A good school website is a worthwhile investment for any learning institution. To ensure that you are getting the most out of this investment, you have to actively search for a website provider that understands and addresses the challenges of maintaining a website that is specifically made for schools. Before signing with any provider, check first if they offer the following:
A content management system or CMS refers to a set of related programs or applications that are used to create and manage digital content. This is where the site administrators and users add and tweak text, images, videos, and galleries. The changes done in this platform are reflected on the website.
In order to make it easier to update and manage a school website, it is an absolute must to have a CMS that’s catered to the needs of its users -- the teachers and school staff. The platform must feature an intuitive, highly structured navigation system, one that the users can easily familiarize themselves with. The author environment or the form where the user writes and edits posts should have a streamlined interface as well as features that make it easy to edit, add, or delete texts, images, videos, or galleries.
While there are many features that can be added to make the CMS for a school website more user friendly, there are few that can match the functionality and convenience of Google or Microsoft 360 integrations. Easy access and automated synchronizations with these popular cloud-based office suites can significantly reduce the time it takes to update teacher and event pages and school calendars. Through this feature, sharing files with parents and students who want to review or take advance lessons will be a breeze. Plus, integrations also allow the users to update their page from any device using their single sign-on (SSO) credential.
A built-in social media manager is another great addition to the custom CMS. This allows the teachers and staff to widen their audience reach and link to the school’s social media account whenever they post new content on their pages. A post scheduler also comes in handy if the user wants to share multiple images and videos on social media in just one sitting.
Another feature that a school website provider must offer is a platform for creating forms and a streamlined process for submitting them. There is a mountain of paperwork that must be filled out every school year, so posting the form for these on the school website can eliminate a lot of hassles. A form builder in the CMS allows the teachers and school staff to create and update forms as necessary and make them available to site visitors. A directory for all downloadable and online school forms will prove to be a great addition to your website.
A custom form builder should come with an automated form submission process. No one, after all, wants to get stuck sorting out forms at the end of every cutoff period. Once the website visitor clicks the Submit button, the information provided in the form should be automatically collected, collated, and directed to the concerned department or administrator. This reduces the work for teachers and staff and allows them to devote their energy to activities in the classroom.
Providing inclusive education should be one of the top priorities of any school, and having an ADA-friendly website is a great testament to that commitment. A school website provider should offer options for making the school website more accessible to everyone. Some of the features you should look into are alt texts and tags for all media files and color contrast tools. A site that adheres to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) will go a long way in helping schools keep the website accessible to everyone.
Your provider’s job doesn’t just end once the website has been launched. After the website turnover, the provider should stick around and make sure that you are having an easy time managing your website. They can do this by offering technical support in the form of webinars, help centers, and phone support. It would also be a great idea to check if they have an emergency hotline. This way, you know what to do and who to call should you have any problems accessing the website or CMS.
Last but not that least, your school website provider should offer you design selections that will stand out. It’s a must to go for a responsive design that looks consistently good across all platforms and browsers. Also, check that your provider uses each design concept only once. This way, you can ensure that your school website looks unique and truly represents the spirit and tradition of your learning institution.
Your partnership with your school website provider extends beyond the launch of your school website. This list of non-negotiable features will help you find a provider that will not just give you a good looking website, but also the right tools and training to make the most out of your school’s online hub.