Many schools fall into the trap of building a website for one audience – prospective families. Even worse, some schools build a website with only current families in mind. Often schools forget to think about the diverse audience that will be visiting their website. This leads to many missed opportunities for donations, alumni connections, and community support.
While prospective parents should always remain the key audience, and a school’s sitemap, photos, and layout should cater to their needs, it is important to think about how a website can be welcoming and accommodating to all viewers.
Without a doubt, your largest audience is your future families. Can they see themselves at your school? Would their children fit in with the community? What is a day in the life of a student like? Prospective parents want to understand who you are just by exploring your webpage, assume they won’t come for a tour unless they have already fallen in love with your virtual presence.
The most frequent visitors to your site are likely current families. Don’t let the information they need clutter your homepage though, it doesn’t speak to your other audiences. Instead, use an internal portal or parent page to house the information they want to find with a simple click: calendars, forms, access to online grades, etc. Don’t forget that they want simple, mobile-friendly access to stay up to date on the go.
The website can be a source of revenue too! Don’t forget about your potential donors. Online donations are quick and easy for people to participate. Once a grandmother of 10 wanted to give each of her grandchildren’s schools $100. Only one of the schools had an easy path for online donations, so she gave them the entire $1,000. Your “Donate Now” button should be front and center, and your donation form should be quick and easy to fill out.
Use your website to connect with alumni. They can be great ambassadors for your school and maybe future donors or parents in your community. Have a place they can call their own and connect with your school today.
Is your school going through accreditation soon? Your website could be the first interaction your visiting team has with your campus. Make sure your site is up to date, matches your narrative and reflects the culture and community the visiting team will see when they arrive.
Your competition and neighboring schools may also view your website. Are you looking to be a community leader in education? Do you collaborate with any feeder schools? Does your school have additional programs they want to highlight? We teach our kids not to brag, but it is okay to showcase your school’s success and strengths online.
Creating a website that recognizes the varying needs of your audience is critical. A well-organized site map is key. Don’t be afraid to use a primary navigation to address your most important audience, prospective families, and a secondary navigation to engage the rest of the community.
Contact us today for an evaluation of your current site and a free website mockup to help you meet the needs of all your audience members!
Last year you launched a wonderful, updated website – congratulations!
Your team worked hard to update content, look at various design options, and discuss the best photos. Your website was great, but it has already aged. You guessed it – it is time to begin considering the redesign process!
Absolutely! In order to keep your website looking fresh and up to date schools should be doing a redesign every two years. While the design elements need the most adjustments, it is also a great time to review and update your site map, photos, and content.
The Web Design Trends Evolve
- In Today – Out Tomorrow: Just like fashion changes with the season, web design is constantly evolving and being elevated to a new level. Having long scrolling home pages might be in today, but tomorrow is a different story. In order to have a modern, cutting-edge design, you will need to update the layout and design elements every two years.
- Make Your Best First Impression: Would you wear an old tshirt to an interview? Of course not, if you want the job! Your website is the first impression many prospective families and donors have of your school, so it needs to look professional and modern. When websites look dated, which happens fast, it reflects poorly on the school identity.
Your School Identity Shifts
- Addition or Elimination of Programs: While the mission statement of your school likely will stay consistent, schools are always adding, adjusting or enhancing classes, curriculum, and programs. Are you adding or updating a one to one technology program – your homepage website design should showcase this! Might you be introducing an updated art docent program with parents – it is time to showcase that! People won’t know what your school offers unless you tell them.
- New Teachers: Employee turnover is inevitable, so use the redesign as a chance to update and rearrange your staff page.
- New Facilities: Make sure your redesigned website showcases any new facility projects as well as ones in the works. Websites can be a great way to drive donations for big upcoming projects. Remember, no one will donate if they don’t know the project is on the horizon!
- Showcase Your Awards and Accolades: Do you have new testimonial quotes from families? Did your school recently finish accreditation? Has the school been the recipient of any grants or awards? We teach kids that it is not polite to brag, but on your website the more you promote the success and recognition of the school the more credibility you gain.
The Mobile Experience Changes
- How People View Websites Changes: Every year the percentage of people accessing your website on a mobile device goes up. Every six months the newest, greatest phone or tablet hits the market – your website needs to be able to hold up the ever-changing technology. Review your website analytics as part of your redesign process to make sure your website works for your primary audience.
Your Photos Age Out
- Students Get Older: You guessed it, those kids keep growing! It is unrealistic to remove students who have graduated every year, but if you have photos of high school students who are now in college or elementary students who are now driving cars – it is time to update your photos to reflect the students who comprise your community today.
- Cameras Get Better: The quality of photos being taken, the editing software supporting those images, and the equipment capturing them are always improving. Low-quality images will make a site feel dated very quickly, no matter how cutting-edge the design structure may be. Invest in a professional photographer with each redesign, the resulting crisp, powerful images of your students are worth it!
- ADA Compliance: ADA compliance is a hot issue today as schools are regularly approached by advocacy groups. The requirements to keep your school accessible to all might change tomorrow. Stay on top of the legal ramifications by consulting all compliance legislature during your redesign.
School’s should be looking to update their websites every two years to ensure that their site has a modern design, is easy to view on the latest mobile devices, and properly reflects the community of the school today. Taking the time to refine and polish your school’s online presence is important to making a lasting first impression on potential donors, future parents and alumni.
Let us help you get started on a redesign today!
As we are sure you know, Apple has released the latest software for iPhones and iPads, iOS 11. Apple is calling this update “A monumental leap for iPad” and there a few cool additions that may help educators in the classroom.
As with any new software update, we highly recommend you do not update your iPads until we recommend it is safe to do so. Typically, we will want to wait until iOS 11.1 is released and all the bugs have been worked out of the new software. In addition, app developers (Schoology, Google, Pearson, Accelerated Reader, etc.) all need time to update their apps to work with iOS 11.
Upgrading your device to iOS 11 at this time may cause issues with performance and can not be easily reversed.
When it is safe to upgrade school iPads Beehively will be in touch to schedule this update with you directly.
In the meantime here are some additional notes on the new operating system:
Which Devices Support iOS 11:
All iPhones 5s and newer
iPad Air & Air 2
iPad 5th generation
iPad mini 2, 3, & 4
Features Notable in Education:
New file browser that pulls files from supported cloud storage apps
Split view enhances multi-tasking by allowing two apps to display at once
New document scanner for filling and signing documents
Keyboard now displays numbers and commonly used punctuation without flipping between keyboards
Features Notable Outside of Education:
Drag and drop capability
Apple Pay is now integrated with iMessage
Photos has been updated to include more filters and Live Photos that create fun loops of video from your pictures
Redesigned App store
Increased Support for Apple Pencil
More Info: https://www.apple.com/ios/ios-11/
Happy Teacher’s day from the Beehively team.
We Appreciate you.
We have great news! It is now more convenient than ever to ask us a question. Just text us a note and we’ll text you right back.
To reach us by text, please add (530) 883-8835 to your phone and send us a text message with your name and the name of your school. We’ll save you in our system and know who you are whenever you text.
Don’t worry, we won’t share your information or text you unless you text us.
We look forward to hearing from you!
The Beehively Team
(Now with texting!)
Standard messaging rates apply. Please check with your carrier for details.
Great news! The internet has begun to heal and all Beehively file services are now accessible! If you would like more information on the service disruptions across the internet today, CNet has a nice overview here.
To clarify, attachments and files are now behaving as expected. We will respond here if there are any further updates.
Files are almost back to normal!
Previously uploaded files and information are now behaving. Unfortunately, newly generated attachments and PDF outputs are still not loading as expected. Hang tight. As we continue to monitor the situation further updates will be posted here.
Files are currently misbehaving in Beehively. For parts of the software where you use attachments, you may find they either do not load or take a very long time to load. For example, files are used when attaching content or accessing progress report PDF outputs.
Except for this file issue, all other services are running normally, like grading, announcements, and urgent alerts.
We are working resolving this issue and have identified the cause. We will update this notice when it’s resolved.