The Real Cost of Doing Your School Website In-House
Published on 20/09/17
Despite an announcement earlier this year from the Education Secretary, Justine Greening, in which she promised an extra £1.3bn in funding for schools in England over the next two years, many still face real term cuts with soaring staff costs and growing class sizes. With school funding on the brink, more and more schools are looking to raise funds or reduce spending wherever they can.
For some schools, this will mean bold solutions, like leasing out school facilities or fundraising efforts within the local community. For others, it will mean looking to make cuts or find cheaper alternatives. With ongoing annual fees, your school website may be one of the areas you look to make savings. Whilst it’s tempting to take up that offer from a parent to create you a website on the cheap, or assign the project to your IT team to manage internally, the real costs of doing so can be much higher than initially imagined.
Crunching The Numbers
With hosting alone costing between £50 and £200 a year per website, the costs can start to add up before you even have a website up and running. Then there’s the time it takes to design and build a website. Even using a template solution often requires an element of setup, customisation and modification that doesn’t just require an element of skill, but could cost hundreds or even thousands of pounds in man hours. Then there’s content migration from your existing website solution. An average school will have anywhere from 75 to 150 pages of content on their website. An ICT Technician paid an average salary of £10 an hour, could see your school spend between £180 – £370 in time alone just populating your website.
Before a school has finished setting up their own website, they could have already spent more than they would have staying with their existing website provider or moving to another professional agency. But these aren’t the only costs to consider…
More Than Just Money
Will you have technical or consultative support when you need it?
School Website providers like e4education provide access to a highly-rated, unlimited technical support team. That means our clients have access to help and support whenever they need it. If you create your website in-house, what happens if the member of staff responsible for maintaining your school website is away, sick or decides to leave? Could somebody update the website in the event of an emergency? And what about keeping ahead of the curve – will somebody at your school champion best practice or keep on top of the frequently changing website requirements from the Department for Education?
Will the system you use to update your website be up to scratch?
Arguably just as important as the design, structure and content of your school website is the system used to update it. We’ve already wrote about the [potential risks of using Wordpress to power your school website]. There’s several other systems out there, all with varying levels of complexity and functionality but few created specifically for schools. Take the e4education Content Management System for example, which contains everything a school needs to communicate and market effectively. From advanced form booking functionality for parents evening management, to social media integration, breaking news banners and more. Will your new in-house solution have all of the tools and functionality to keep your website up-to-date without compromise?
Will it look as good?
Websites created by e4education are designed by professionals who have spent years honing their skills, studying trends and learning about user experience and content placement. They are meticulous in the details to provide a bespoke website that doesn’t just look great but works well too. Will your in-house solution adhere to best practice and properly reflect your brand? Will it deliver an unforgettable user experience?
Will it be as fast?
Using website builders or templates often means plenty of redundant code and plugins are present, that bloat a website and slow it down. Not only will a slower website perform badly in search engines but it’ll also create a terrible experience for visitors which could be difference between a prospective pupil choosing another school instead of yours.
Will you require training?
Being able to update your school website quickly and easily could save lots of money in wasted admin and man hours, but often this requires an intuitive CMS, otherwise you’ll probably need to invest in training. Training costs can quickly reach hundreds of pounds and you may need to train more than one member of staff, pushing these costs even higher. At e4education we provide all of our clients with free in-line training, video tutorials, user manuals and our customers all have access to our team during office hours for help and guidance.
Will it be SEO optimised?
Professional website design agencies will likely employ a number of people with different specialisms to deliver the perfect website for its clients. Creating your school website in-house will likely mean asking an individual to take on all of these different roles in one. Perhaps the most complex of roles will be ensuring your school website is optimised to perform well on search engines. A website that doesn’t appear in the top page of Google will likely not be discovered or clicked at all – so getting SEO right is important for every school.
Your Website IS An Investment
When looking at saving money – it’s worth remembering that your website is an investment and used effectively, it can easily pay for itself many times over. A bespoke, branded website that sells the benefits of your school to prospective staff and students, will save recruitment fees and ensure your school is running at capacity. Choosing to go for free or in-house solutions compromises your ability to do this well and risks costing you more money than you choose to save.
If you’d like free help or guidance on your school website, or talk about how e4education could help save you money please
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