Wired for engagement – the Schoolwires blog

How to build the worst K-12 website in 6 easy steps

Posted by Debbora Woods on 7/10/14 9:00 AM

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Guest bloggers: Chris Buecksler, Cari Rhoades, and Kristi Gottwalt

Our Marketing Operations Team got together to brainstorm for this post, and we feel it’s a pretty great list! Enjoy…

  1. Make the content on your website hard to find. Bury it if you have to -- everyone loves a challenge! Who doesn't want to spend countless hours searching for updates from the board meeting, finding the school lunch menu, or learning where sporting events are located? Site search, bologna. Why would you want to add site search? It's just going to take the fun out of finding the content you've worked so hard to bury.
  2. Make sure it's hard to update content on it. After all, the fewer people in your district that know how to make changes, the more job security for you!
  3. Absolutely do not pay attention to enhancements that surrounding districts, charter schools, private schools, or online academies are making to their websites. It’s not like you are competing with them for anything.
  4. Just have one person update your whole district's content. Nothing builds character like going it on your own, and your website visitors will hardly notice the lack of updates or frustrating user experience.
  5. Don’t consider mobile users. Assume everyone will be viewing your site from a desktop computer. If by chance someone stops by your site from their phone or tablet, they’ll still be able to find what they need -- eventually. Even if more than 60% of Americans own a smart phone, and smart phone traffic is expected to grow by 50% in 2014, it’s probably just a fad. No need to worry about that!
  6. Ignore your audience. This is YOUR website. Make sure you only post about what you care about. If you are interested in the arts, focus on that! Make sure you keep everyone up-to-date on the latest performances and exhibits. Who really cares about student achievement, outstanding teachers, curriculum updates, or athletic events?

Okay, let's not really go to those extremes! We want to ensure your K-12 district and school websites are informing and engaging your stakeholders with content that's easy to find, when they need it. So, we asked some of our clients to give us tips to help your K-12 community tap into the vast potential of your district's website.

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P.S. If you're attending the CGCS Annual Public Relations Executives Meeting this weekend, check out the Schoolwires-sponsored Closing Keynote on 7/13 at 10:00 AM with Ann Handley of MarketingProfs. Get a copy of "Content Rules" and meet Ann at her book signing afterward!

Topics: K-12, School Websites, Website Best Practices, Community Engagement


A Checklist for Your K-12 Website Success

Posted by Debbora Woods on 6/24/14 10:00 AM

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Last month I was reading a great MarketingProfs article entitled "Is Your Website Dead or Just Sleeping? A Vital Six-Point Checklist for Your Site." Although it was written with B2B marketers in mind, it provided some great tips that educators can use to ensure your K-12 websites are informing, engaging, and communicating with your community the way you need them to. Here are the six tips to follow:

  1. Is it usable? Here’s an obvious point – if your students, parents, staff, and community can’t navigate to the information they need, they won’t use your website! So, use headings, bullet points, a search function, keywords, and readable font sizes, just to name a few.
  2. Is it responsive? The majority of people access your website on a mobile device. Does your website give them a great user experience, eliminating the need for pinching and zooming? Or is it causing frustration?
  3. Is it focused? Students want to know when assignments are due and when the next test is scheduled. Parents want to know about district news and events. Give them what they want in a concise, clear manner.
  4. Is it sociable? People typically would rather look at photos or watch a video over reading a bunch of text on your website. Show off your student graduation with a video. Post photos of students enjoying a field trip.
  5. Is it direct? Ask your website visitors to interact with you. Need to know their support on a bond issue? Have them take a survey. Want parents to enroll their kindergartners early rather than waiting last minute? Encourage them to enroll online.
  6. Is it fast? Parents need to know critical info in a short amount of time as they run from music lessons to sporting events to the grocery store. They are in a hurry. Make sure your website pages load quickly – compress your page assets as much as possible, use a reliable hosting site, and ensure the platform is a solid content delivery network.

Is this a lot to consider? Yes! And Schoolwires is here to help, from designing easy-to-navigate responsive websites, to ensuring integration with your technology tools already in place, to creating a downloadable school district mobile app, to providing reliable hosting – we’ve got you covered!

Topics: K-12, School-to-Home Communication, School Websites, Website Best Practices


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