Recently my work has had me perusing school websites for a little “market research”, and my findings have been significant. Sadly, many of the schools within the private school system for which I work do not have a robust, dynamic online presence. Some, shockingly, have none at all. Social media and online presence are important for anyone or any organization. Building your “brand” is important, but so is providing your stakeholders with valuable information and a chance to interact with each other and your organization (or yourself). In the case of K-12 schools, this is especially relevant. So, without further ado, a few “must haves” for your school’s website:
Design. The layout and design of your school’s website doesn’t need to be complicated, or even have a lot of bells and whistles. What it should have is a focal point that draws users in, is inviting, and is both easy to read and easy to look at. In other words, a healthy contrast between text and background, high quality visuals (and if you’re at a loss for good pictures to use, I will link to some free and copyright-free image sources below), and a clean layout that avoids visual clutter.
Quality content. A website should contain key information about your school for those who are unfamiliar with it, and important, relevant, and up-to-date information for those already inside your school community. For example, for those who are new to your school or wishing to learn more about it, it would be helpful to include:
- School name and location, as well as grades and subjects taught
- Faculty and staff employed there
- Admissions information such as relevant forms, due dates, etc.
- Donation link or page
- Newsletter sign-up
- Contact information
For those already within your school community, it would be helpful to provide:
- Access to grades and school email for parents, teachers, and students
- Current calendar of school events
- Forms for things such as re-admission, school field trips and events, hot lunches, etc.
These items may seem obvious, but many school websites that I found failed to include them. I think this is especially important for small schools who may not have the resources or staffing to upkeep a school website. However, creating or maintaining a website that includes the above information takes less time than you may think, and is important.
Here two sites that I use for high quality, copyright-free, no cost images: