A new school website is probably the biggest marketing investment you’ll make and has the ability to offer a fantastic return on investment. So making the right decision on who to work with to develop your new site is crucial. Here are 5 key points to consider when choosing a school website design agency:
1. What is the design agency like?
Education is a sector like no other. An agency working exclusively with Schools and Multi Academy Trusts will better understand your unique requirements and offer valuable insights to help guide your project. For example, they’ll be able to navigate complex DfE and Ofsted guidelines to ensure your new website fulfills necessary legal criteria.
Look for an established agency with a proven track record. What’s more, even if you only need a website at this point, choosing an agency who offers multiple marketing services could help save valuable time and money in future – who wants the hassle of managing multiple suppliers that could result in an inconsistent (and potentially damaging) campaign?
Finally, and most importantly, you need to make sure you can work with your new agency. A great agency will become an extension of your in-house marketing team so it’s vital there’s good rapport. Get a good sense of personalities and shared values before embarking on your project.
2. Take a look at their portfolio
It’s this simple: Do you like the quality of the work the agency creates?
When looking at online portfolios, be sure to check out live websites (not just screenshots which can sometimes be misleading). This way, you’ll be able to see how the site ‘functions’, including any more interactive features.
Take time to review the clients the agency works with. How credible are they and what do they say about their customer experience?
3. What’s included in the website package?
Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you fully understand exactly what you’re getting.
Content Management System
The main benefit of a modern day website is having a Content Management System (CMS). This allows you to edit, add and delete pages, text and images on your site.
It’s important to know what CMS the agency work with and how easy it is to use – an unwieldy CMS will defeat the object as staff won’t want to go anywhere near it! It needs to be quick, intuitive and packed full of features. Why not ask the agency to arrange a demonstration of their CMS?
School specific functionality
Think about what your website needs to achieve and create an essential and a desirable list of functionality (it might help to look at other sites for inspiration). If you’re budget conscious, don’t get carried away – stick to the basics (calendar, news, gallery, policies, etc) with one or two enhanced options for best effect.
Aftercare once your website goes live
Getting the website up and running is only half the story. Most agencies offer an ongoing technical support service. It’s important to understand what is included in any ongoing fees. Consider what kind of support you will need – if it’s an online ticket based system this might be sufficient for a tech-savvy IT Manager, but a School Office Manager may benefit from for a more personal approach.
4. Understand the process
To avoid any surprises during your website project, ask the agency about the process they follow. How is the process broken down into more manageable stages to help fit around busy school schedules?
Consider who in your team will be driving the project forward. If the process of building a new website is new to your school, you’ll benefit from a more hands-on approach, with lots of advice and guidance from an experienced and dedicated project manager.
Finally, does the suggested turnaround time suit your timeframe? Bear in mind that different solutions vary. For example a themed site where your school logo is added to a template is a fast solution but is more limited in terms of design and customisation and may not always be the best option. Also, remember to factor in school holidays or term dates where your availability may be limited to ensure the process isn’t rushed or critical deadlines missed.
5. What’s your budget?
The likelihood is that your website will need to last your school around 3 years. As a key marketing tool that attracts prospective staff, students and parents, and also engages with your current school community, it’s worthy of investment.
When it comes to a good school website, you really do get what you pay for. Beware the cheaper options and think about the bigger picture of just how influential your school website is.
If you’re looking for a new school website, we would be pleased to discuss your requirements and tell you more about our approach. Talk to us today on 0208 466 7222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org