Here are our 5 top tips for future-proof website creation…
1. Understand your stakeholders. Look at who uses your website at the moment, who you’d like to be using it in the future, what they want to see and how they are likely to access it (probably on a mobile phone!). These stakeholders will include current and future parents, staff and students and perhaps former students and local community organisations – anyone who is vital to the future success of your school. Remember also that your government is a stakeholder and may need to see specific information (for state schools in England, the Government provides a list of information here).
2. Design for your visitor’s journey. Once you know what you need to communicate, you can start to design the layout of your site. Focus your design on the different stakeholders rather than your school’s organisational structure – so for example prospective parents can find all the information relevant to them in one place, with links to the latest stories that support your key messages. You should also create ‘landing pages’ for different stakeholders that can be used in external advertising and social media and quickly capture contact information.
3. Find the right experts. Once you’ve reached this stage, it’s time to talk about design and content and to talk to several external experts (we recommend a few on our Consultancy page). Send them your ideas and invite them in to talk – at this stage as well as looking for a sensible price, you’re looking for a partner who understands you and schools and who you can work with over time. Don’t be seduced by the latest gimmicks, but make sure your site is easy to update and upgrade. Always ask for and take up references before choosing one supplier.
4. Build up relevant content and file it correctly. While the site is being built, start to build up relevant content that leads back to your key messages – you’ll need up-to-date photos, news stories (written and video) and background information. If you file or 'tag' content correctly it can automatically be shared with the right stakeholders across different pages.
5. Leave time to test, test and test. A new website has huge potential for something to go wrong – from simple spelling mistakes to broken links and wrong information. As with all school marketing activity, look to engage your staff in the process, letting them check (mark!) the work – and suggesting improvements or new stories in the process. If you launch a site with errors, you’ll lose trust in the whole project and cut the time before someone suggests starting again!