When a parent researches online to make sure your school is the right one for them to send their child to...
Or when an Ofsted inspector audits your website to make sure your safeguarding policy is up to date and easily accessible...
Sure, it’s important to make sure you’re hosting all the necessary documents and policies you’re legally required to, but the experience they have when they land on your school’s website is critical.
And of course, there are some basic details that every school website needs to feature.
But more fundamentally, it’s crucial that the first impression you make on a parent, an Ofsted inspector, or even a pupil, accurately reflects the positive experience they’ll have with the school itself.
First impressions count
A poorly organised website that's packed with needless information and badly designed might give the wrong impression of your school.
It’s why, in the modern age, especially considering how online learning has now become such a big part of schooling generally, a good school website is no longer a luxury: it’s a necessity.
The good news is that designing, building, and maintaining a good school website doesn’t need to be difficult—as you’ll see here, there are a few guiding principles you can follow to get you on the right track.
And, as we’ve found working with several schools already, we can help you create a brand-new, functional, and modern looking website in a timely and cost-effective manner too.
Right now, though, you might be thinking:
What exactly makes a good school website?
The key features of a successful school website
Just as you would look to break down a lesson into a format that’s clear, focused, and easy for children to follow, you should look to do the same with your school website.
On a technical level, this is what an Ofsted inspector will be thinking about when they visit your website to carry out their initial investigation.
They’ll be looking to make sure they can access the statutory materials you’re obliged to keep online in a simple way. They don’t want to be digging around to find details of your policy on children with special educational needs (SEN). And they don’t want to have to scroll through long lists of poorly titled documents that don’t seem related in any way.
It’s the same for parents.
You know how busy parents are and it follows that they want to be able to land on your website and follow clear paths to find the material they’re looking for.
So, if it’s the latest school holiday timetable they’re looking for, they should be able to find it quickly. Or if it’s details of what’s covered in a certain curriculum area, that should be clear and obvious too.
We find that it’s often helpful to breakdown the information you need to include on your website into three distinct areas:
- Official Information, such as policies and other statutory material
- Information for Parents, such as news, events, and other general material, and
- Curriculum Details, such as items covered in each subject area.
Of course, there are still various ways you can deal with information in these categories and how you organise your school website will depend on the specific needs and aims of your school, which we will always discuss with you.
But by at least beginning to categorise the information, you can immediately make things that bit easier to find.
Clean, clear, and well-categorised
You can see in the example below, that when we helped to redesign the school website for All Saints Infants, one of the key things we did was implement clean and clear navigation at the top of the website:
On arriving to this website, the visitor can quickly identify the location of the thing they’re looking for by hovering over the broader categories and then clicking on the more detailed dropdown menus.
In essentially a single click, a parent or Ofsted inspector can get to the information they’re looking for.
Clean and clear navigation like this helps you to better organise the content of your website and it provides a much better user experience.
Indeed, on that note, it’s important to think about the specific pieces of content that are sought out more often than others.
Then you can look to create a sidebar on the website that features these frequently visited and popular pages. It’s useful elements like this—that anticipate a user’s experience—that will really make your website stand out from the others.
That said, when it comes to the visual impact of your website, you should avoid making any page too complicated or cluttered.
Though the advice ‘less is more’ seems over simplified, the underlying principle that you should aim for clean and clear pages with plenty of ‘white space’ (the space in-between content) is without doubt always the right way to go.
The bottom line is, if you strive for your school website to be clean, clear, and well-categorised, you’ll find it will be in much better shape than many.
Take advantage of our experience to save yourself the hassle
Of course, it’s all well and good knowing what your school website should look like...
Finding the time and resources to make the change or start from scratch is another matter.
But this is where we can help.
We’ve been designing and building websites for decades. Not just for schools, but for businesses large and small.
The fact is, we know what we’re doing, especially when it comes to understanding what schools need to do to attract parents and satisfy Ofsted inspectors.
But you shouldn’t just take our word for it...
For example, after the work we did for All Saints Infants, the school got in touch to tell us that we were “extremely professional” and “fantastic to work with.” They also pointed out that we are always “eager to work with you to get the best website possible.”
And when Headteacher Danielle Edwards got in touch with us to help fix the Common Road Infants website ahead of an all-important Ofsted inspection, she wrote to let us know that “the school improvement advisor loved the new website.”
We were happy to hear it. And we should point out that we’re always happy to fit our schedule around yours, especially if you’ve got a pressing deadline that means you need your new website up and running asap.
Even once your new website is live, as a part of our ongoing service level agreement with you, we’ll always be on hand to update and tweak the contents as you need.
It means your website will always be accurate and always show your school in its very best light.
In fact, this is another big tip. Even after a major redesign, too many schools leave their websites unattended, failing to update them with new information as required. This can create a whole host of new problems as parents find themselves working off out of date information and Ofsted inspectors assume you’ve ignored the latest guidance.
So, be sure to keep on top of your website once it’s been redesigned.
It’s why we’ve specifically designed our service to include ongoing maintenance in the cost. This way, you don’t have to worry about any nasty surprises down the line.
Indeed, it’s something else Danielle Edwards at Common Road Infants highlighted. She noted that our “support and aftercare is second to none,” and that our prices are very competitive.
She went on to explain that we “support [her] with the maintenance of [their] website and respond extremely quickly when contacted.” In fact, she says she would “never use another company again.”
It’s great to receive such positive feedback and we strive to provide the same high level of service to all of our clients.
So, to find out more about exactly what we offer, discuss the specifics of what you need and learn more about how our helpful SLAs work, you should get in touch with us today.
Remember, your website is often the first impression a parent, child or an Ofsted inspector has about your school, so it’s crucial it reflects the care and diligence you put into everything else at your school.
Get in touch with us today and we’ll help make sure your school website does exactly that.