What makes a good New Zealand School Website?
For the last 2 years we have looked at hundreds and hundreds of School Websites from New Zealand and around the world to determine what makes a good school website. Through our research we analyzed the designs, features, functionality and many other aspects of a website before launching our own New Zealand School Website service.
These are our conclusions
First determine: Who is your audience?
Before you start any new web design project you first need to decide who your audience is. This will affect a lot of the design and development process.
What we have found is that for most Schools who have a solid communications plan, the website is not the primary means of communication to existing families. This is mainly done via more accessible channels like the School App, Class blogging, newsletter, Facebook and other dynamic platforms. This allows you to focus the website on attracting new families to your School, with nice large imagery, School motto, vision and all of the necessary things like the latest ERO report, financial reports and enrollment information. This makes for a great first impression to new visitors.
You can then put in smart navigation and integrations to your communications tools around this, for those who will be using the school website as their primary means of keeping updated by the School.
Integrations with your School communication
During our research we also found that a lot of New Zealand School websites didn’t show their latest communication information. Empty Calendars, old or no newsletters and no information about some of the great communication tools they are using such as their School App, Class blogging platforms etc.
On interviewing School website administrators, we found the reason usually being that it was either too difficult, too time consuming or they just plain forgot.
This can all be prevented by integrating your existing communication platforms into your School Website.
For example, Schools who have a School App and Website package with us can integrate things like the School Calendar, School Newsletter and the Alert Notifications. This means that these things only need to be updated in one place and will show on both. We can also add links and integrations to Facebook, School Interview software, student management systems, payment platforms and online forms software.
Must be easy to update
As well as integrating with your existing communication tools, the website content needs to be easy to update by non-techy School staff.
This includes, adding new text and images to a page, adding new pages without having to design the whole thing, moving objects around a page and more.
As mentioned above, a lot of Schools haven’t updated the content on their website for years and years. Old ERO reports, out of date messages and pictures of students who left the School 3 years ago. Does this sound familiar? Well you’re not alone. Many Schools that we interviewed said they found it too difficult to update the website, or the person at the School who initially set up the website has since left and no one at the School knows how to even access it anymore.
We researched many platforms and have developed something that even the biggest technophobes will have no trouble using. As well as this, all of our website plans come with unlimited support, meaning, if you’re having trouble adding something to your website our 5 star support team will either show you how to do it, or do it for you at no cost.*
Many Schools haven’t built a new website for years simply due to the lack of affordable options. There are free options like Google Sites, but these can have limitations and usually require a tech-savvy staff member or friend of the School to build it in their spare time. Then when the tech-savvy staff member moves on, or the friend of the Schools child leaves, the website is left with no one their to maintain it and it becomes out of date very quickly.
At the other end of the scale, there are the boutique New Zealand web design agencies who will be able to get you a beautiful website with all the bells and whistles, but expect to pay $6000 – $12000 for this – not including the huge monthly fees and ad-hoc bills every time you want something on your website updated.
Must have good imagery
A picture says a thousand words, and having good pictures can turn a good website into a great website. With modern website design usually being image heavy, it is important that you have access to a gallery of high resolution professional images that represent your school. Pictures from sports days, classroom activities, teaching staff and cultural groups will give web visitors a good insight into life at your School.
A good tip – invite a professional photographer or friend of the School along to sports days or Assemblies to get some great action shots.
These are just a few pointers to ensure you’re on the right track with your website strategy. If you’d like to see how we can upgrade you to a new website that covers all of the above and more, fill out the form below.