Is Your Website Ready for Back-to-School?
Ten things to check before the end of summer break.
Your students may still be at the pool or working summer jobs, but the first day of school is just around the corner. Will your school or district website be ready when families start gearing up for back-to-school season?
Summer is the perfect time to take a step back and rethink your website content, design and navigation. A few simple tweaks now will go a long way towards improving the experiences of families and staff as they prepare for the next school year. Here are ten things to look at before your students return.
1. Update Your School Calendar
One of the first things your website visitors will check as the school year approaches is the calendar. When is the first day of school? What about back-to-school or meet-the-teacher night? When are teacher professional days scheduled? Make sure important days for the entire school year are on the calendar, including school closing days, testing days, grading period start and end dates and recurring events like board meetings.
2. Put Back-to-School Information Front and Center
Think about the information families and staff need the most at the beginning of the school year and make sure it is easily accessible from your home page. You may want to have a “back-to-school” block with quick links to important documents like school supply lists, new student enrollment information, student handbooks, medical forms and other important information.
3. Remove Outdated Content
How old are the pictures in your home page slide show? Is your news feed or announcement block clogged with outdated information from the last school year? Take a critical look at your existing content and remove anything that is no longer relevant.
4. Create a New Principal or Superintendent Message
The message from the principal or superintendent shouldn’t be stale or static. Use this space to tell families and staff what’s new, what’s changing and what you are especially excited about for the coming year. Give them a reason to read this year’s message!
5. Update Your Faculty Directory
Make sure your directories are up-to-date for the new school year. If you are using bulk uploads for automated updates, be sure to properly archive any files or information associated with former accounts before they are removed. Some systems may allow you to manually disable accounts, rather than removing them, if they may be needed again.
6. Rethink Your Navigation
School websites can easily get bloated with content. If you haven’t evaluated your website navigation for a few years, now may be the time to take another look. Are there better ways to organize the information to reduce confusion for your users? Are there some sections that are no longer relevant and could be removed entirely? Check out our school website navigation blog for best practices.
7. Consider a Design Update
Summer is a great time to refresh your website with a new design theme. With eChalk, changing your website theme is as easy as clicking a button. Changing up your look can reengage your audience with your content.
8. Help Teachers Get Ready for New Classes
After checking out the calendar and school supply list, families want to learn more about their new teachers and classes. During the summer, teachers should take down last year’s outdated class information and update their pages with welcome information for their new students. If your teachers aren’t using class pages effectively, summer is a great time to get them jumpstarted. Consider some teacher training for new staff or teachers who could use a refresher.
9. Take a Look at Teams, Clubs and Groups
Have you looked at your sports and extracurricular public pages lately? Make sure that all of the teams, clubs and groups that are part of your school have a public place to share news, events and successes. Coaches and group leaders should go through and refresh these pages with information for the new year. Make sure they have the training they need to keep their pages updated.
10. Don’t Forget Your Teachers and Staff
If your website is equipped with private intranet functionality, take a look at that content, too. Make sure HR forms and information are updated for teachers and staff. Think about the questions that came up most often during the last school year, and make sure the answers are easy to find online.
If you do these ten things, you’ll be ahead of the game when students come pouring back in to your schools this fall. A little time spent this summer will improve the school website experience for students, families and staff all year long.