By Becky Cunliffe
There are many posts online about how to make a great website, and many similar posts on what to avoid; these tend to be fairly generic. In this blog I’ll summarise some of the key things that, in my opinion, should be considered, and what should be forgotten about, when it comes to school websites in particular.
My top tips:
- Remember the Purpose – It’s important to remember what the point of the website is. Is it to encourage parents to use your school? Is it a portal for parents? Is it for students to check for events?
Remember you may have other systems or sites for these purposes, so link to them rather than try to fit it all on your website.
- Make it easy to find – Navigation is crucial and can lose visitors; if it is not easy to see where to go, they may give up.
- Planning – Rushing into the site may result in bulky pages, so always try to plan out what pages you are going to have and what should be on them. Don’t forget to use links to try and keep pages short, if they want more information they can go to the additional pages.
- Update it – Nothing discourages visitors more than finding an event being advertised that was over 5 years ago, as this creates the impression that the site may no longer be in use. Likewise, try to remove your old website from the web to stop parents ending up in the wrong place.
- Use colour – Try to not make the website a textbook. Add some relevant images or colour to the page, but do make sure your page is still readable and easy on the eyes.
I would strongly recommend avoiding the following:
- Sound – This can startle visitors and often they will simply mute their speaker. It also asks the question, why do you need that sound?
- Animation – Small gifs can be useful but try to avoid anything that changes the whole page, such as leaves falling down the page. This just causes annoyance when trying to view the page and can get in the way.
- Several-tiered menus – Keep your navigation to 1-2 submenus only. At a certain point the visitor may be lost, or if its a hover-over menu they may lose their place.
- Large files – Keep images, files, videos etc to a smaller size so visitors are not waiting on downloads.
- Too much info – Remember, a website is there to show information, but try not to overwhelm it with too many pages. Use the other Jotter Apps and any system or sites you may have, and try to remember what the purpose is of each to avoid duplication.