When it comes to procuring a new website for your school or Multi Academy Trust (MAT) there’s a whole host of issues to consider. Our handy ‘How to’ guide is designed to help you avoid procurement pitfalls and maximise your online investment – and your budget.
Get it right, and your new website will look visually stunning and support cost savings through streamlined, automated processes. It can also drive increased engagement with parents and key stakeholders, as well as attracting students, staff and alumni.
1. Think of the bigger picture
Not all websites are built equal. Some school website design companies will wow you with aesthetics. Beyond a design that builds brand equity, a fully functioning website with automation capabilities can save a huge amount of administration time and money. The ability to regularly update your website can increase engagement amongst parents, students and staff. With the right school website providers, fabulous functionality doesn’t come at the expense of desirable design.
Think about the true potential of your school website. A good school website should integrate with your social media channels and support the quick and easy creation of newsletters as well as facilitating bookings and payments.
If you’re looking to procure a Multi Academy Trust website, the best school website software will allow scalability, which is essential if you’re planning to grow. Many MATs create a lead design, which is quickly and easily cloned for the schools as they join your Trust. This creates a consistent brand look and feel, with the individuality of each school conveyed through varied photography and content.
2. Consider the whole communications package
If your school communications software and parent school app have been procured over a long period of time by individual members of staff, you may have a range of parent teacher communications tools. These different tools may allow you to send bulk emails, create newsletters, take payments, post social content or make bookings, but all in isolation.
Good school website companies will provide all this functionality through one streamlined hub, potentially saving you time and money on a disjointed range of software tools that no longer meet your needs.
3. Don’t buy on design alone
School website design is a key consideration, but it’s not the only one. A good provider will talk to you about what you want your website to achieve and help to meet that need.
The design should be responsive, accommodate simple navigation and allow parents to find what they want quickly and easily, within three clicks. In most cases, if you show your school website design company a look that you like, their designers will accommodate your visual style or show you sample designs.
4. Buy on value, not just price
When budgets are tight it’s tempting to weight your procurement criteria towards the price. And of course, that comes into it. But think about the value your new education website could create long-term. Consider the capital expenditure but also the ongoing costs – and potential savings - once you’re up and running.
Some key questions to ask:
- Does it function as you require and is it easy to update?
- Is it secure, scalable and robust?
- Can it be managed centrally if you’re part of a MAT?
- Can a team of people from your school or MAT access the website, so it continues to work, even if key staff leave?
Good providers of websites for schools will ensure ongoing support and training through their online learning platform and always-on customer service and aftercare. You should expect a dedicated account manager to help you through the setup process. Your new website should have an easy to use, intuitive, content management system (CMS) that multiple users can access, and a behind-the-scenes team of experts to help you at all times. Ask to trial the CMS before you sign up, so you can test it out before you buy.
5. Level up your cybersecurity
Hacks and ransomware attacks are on the rise, and your school could be at risk. In its 2019 UK report, Cybersecurity Maturity in Schools, the London Grid for Learning (LGFL) and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) found that nearly all schools (97%) said losing IT services would cause considerable disruption, and 83% had experienced at least one cybersecurity incident over the last year.
Your website is a direct ‘in’ for a cyberattack and your school data could be compromised and held to ransom. A good school website provider will have invested heavily in the security of its systems. Look for double authentication and SSL certificates delivered as standard.
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