For this article, I’ll be speaking primarily from my experience at the elementary school level and the success we have found from building and maintaining a successful school website. We define a successful website as easy to find, easy to navigate, informative for all stakeholders, and always up-to-date. I have found that the last attribute is the one schools seem to struggle with the most and rightfully so. The responsibilities at the school sites continue to grow so it can be difficult to find the time to update a robust website, especially when there is a lot going on at the school.
In order to keep our website up-to-date, we have shifted from having the site maintained solely by the office to having multiple admins contribute content on their area(s) of expertise. For instance, our school nurse updates the Health Office page, the coaches for our running club maintains the Mustang Milers page(s), our PTA updates the PTA page(s), and our office admin publishes all the events and calendar information. We have about 15 contributors for our website (including a student from student council) and although we just moved to a new platform a few months ago, the content is quickly being added and updated, due to our multiple site admins and a very supportive IT team at our district office.
Not only are multiple website admins the key to maintaining a current and informative website, but believe it or not, it can add to a positive school culture. We set it up so that website maintenance is part of different adjunct duties. Transferring content and setting up the initial pages can be a daunting task, but once everything is up and running, having a variety of contributors updating the content on their area of expertise, also adds a sense of ownership. Allowing teachers, parents, students, and support staff to create their program’s online image provides a sense of ownership and pride. We believe in each and every person on our staff and know that they each possess their own leadership qualities and we are proud to have their contributions on our website.
As for the other attributes: easy to find and navigate, a definite must is to have the content automatically publish to social media. Most of our visits come from Facebook since our News Center articles are automatically published to Facebook through the app IFTTT. Because of IFTTT, parents can easily see when new articles are posted and can quickly find it with the click of a link on Facebook. The link to social media is crucial.
Since our transfer to the new platform, we have accomplished a lot, but still have a ways to go. Because of our team effort, I am confident our site will continue to be updated, will be easy to find and navigate, and the content will be pertinent to all stakeholders. What successes have you found when maintaining your school website?