Buying a new school website: 3 important things to consider
If your current school website is looking a little past its best before, you need to choose a replacement carefully to avoid hidden pitfalls.
Here are three important issues I recommend considering:
Is it an ‘In-house CMS’?
The content management system (or CMS) that your site is built on will affect your future options. Large school web design companies tend to build websites on their own in-house CMS. One huge unspoken advantage to the company is that the school is tied.
If, however, you purchase a website built on a tried and tested publicly-available CMS, such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal, you are free in terms of features, support and cost.
WordPress offers extensive functionality that’s useful for schools (to be covered in a future post) and there are almost 37,000 free plugins available, offering every possible feature your school website might need, including galleries, live calendars and social media feeds.
Furthermore, if your host is unsatisfactory or – as recently happened to 22 Wrexham schools – the service abruptly ends, a website on an open CMS can be transferred from a backup to a new host in minutes.
Is it mobile-friendly?
Nowadays, with the majority of parents routinely using smartphones to browse the web, a school cannot afford to purchase a website which is not mobile-friendly. That means one of two options: the site design is responsive to the screen size of each visitor; or an alternative mobile website with extensive features is provided.
Can you integrate a school app?
You might not be thinking of buying an app now, but you need to ensure that the option is there for the future. The website you buy should be able to provide data to a smartphone app, so you don’t end up with yet another piece of ‘enabling’ technology which adds to staff workload. WordPress, Joomla and Drupal can easily be configured to provide data to a smartphone app.
There are, needless to say, other issues you might want to consider depending on your needs. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them below.