Aug 30, 2019

Your Website is an Investment in Your School

What is a great school website worth? Your website is an investment that pays dividends in better home-school communication, public relations, recruiting and more—and a poor website may be costing you more than you think. Here's why your website is worth the effort. 

Streamlining Home-School Communications

Your website is still the first place families, staff and community members come to look for information about your school. If people can't find what they are looking for on the website, they'll do one of two things: call the school (creating additional work for the administrative staff), or give up (missing out on information and opportunities that may be important). 

An up-to-date and well-organized school website will keep your community better connected and save considerable staff time in the long run. Rather than spend time answering questions individually, you can do the work once to ensure that the information everyone needs is easily accessible on the web. 

Look for a school website platform with an easy-to-use CMS that enables non-technical users to maintain pages with minimal effort. A CMS designed with K-12 schools in mind is a small investment compared to the amount of staff time wasted wrestling with a "freemium" or low-cost platform that doesn't have the tools you need. Free platforms may also come with hidden costs in terms of student privacy

 To save even more time, look for a CMS with mobile notifications built right in—like eChalk Notify. Notify lets you update your website and push announcements out to everyone's mobile devices in one simple step. 

Here's the information families look for the most on your school website. 

Competing in the Age of School Choice

Your website is often the first impression that prospective families and staff members have of your school or district. Make it count! 

Between charters, magnet schools, and private schools, today's families have more options than ever when it comes to choosing a school for their children. It's no longer a given that most students will go to the closest neighborhood school. As families vote with their feet for newer, shinier school options, many schools are finding themselves with declining enrollment and a subsequent loss of funding. 

A great website can help schools compete in an age of school choice. Your website should tell your story and show families and prospective staff members what makes you special. That means polishing not just your message but also your design and navigation. Make sure your website is attractive, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly so it looks great on any device. 

See how New York City High School of Art and Design is using their website to attract prospective families. 

Meeting ADA and Section 504 Requirements for School Website Accessibility

A poorly designed and structured school website can have another hidden cost: OCR complaints and lawsuits due to website accessibility problems. 

Not all CMS platforms are equal when it comes to website accessibility. Schools should look for a platform that makes it easy to create accessible content. The platform should also have accessibility features built in to make it easier for people with disabilities to navigate the site using screen readers or keyboard navigation. Features to look for include ARIA landmarking, keyboard focus, appropriate header hierarchy, and high-contrast designs for people with low visual acuity. Investing in a CMS with these features built in can help schools avoid lawsuits and reduce the time webmasters need to spend addressing website accessibility problems. 

eChalk Guide is an integrated accessibility tool that helps content creators find and fix content accessibility issues both before and after pages are published. Over time, Guide instills best practices for accessibility in all of your content creators without the need for extensive training.

Learn more about school website accessibility requirements

An Investment Worth Making

A great school website CMS will help you save time, improve communications, and put your best foot forward with everyone in your community. The cost of the platform itself is miniscule when compared to the efficiencies gained by staff and the benefits provided to your community. 

Schools should also consider the importance of continuity in their online communication plan. Too often, schools using free solutions or a custom site created by an individual parent or teacher find themselves in a bind when that person moves on. A standardized, easy-to-use CMS backed by great customer support enables schools to get additional content creators involved or train successors if the current webmaster leaves the school. eChalk's dedicated support team and training options make it easy to pass the torch. 

Are you ready to make a switch? Contact us to find out how eChalk websites can help you save time, improve community communication, and comply with ADA and Section 504 requirements.