And just like that, another school year has come to a close (I can sense your excitement through the screen). And although it is summer, we're already thinking about fall...well, kind of...just Web Strategy Workshops, one of the many events we host throughout the school year to help you learn the latest best practices and strategies to improve your online presence. They are our most popular free events.
Just this past year, we hosted 12 half-day events, met nearly 200 school professionals from across the country, and covered topics from web design and content marketing to social media, SEO, and more. Most importantly, we received feedback that the workshops were extremely influential and helpful.
According to Finalsite's Chief Evangelist Rob DiMartino, "We started the workshops when we saw great success in engagement with our clients at FinalsiteU. We wanted to extend a mini experience to schools that could not afford to come back to us each year in Connecticut and also use it as a way to educate the school market of the exciting things we were doing with our partner schools — whether or not you were a client."
The workshops began in the U.S. in 2006 and then quickly grew to reach Canada and our international schools in 2008. Fast forward to 2017, and our workshops have grown to be one of the most important tools that schools use during the website redesign process.
Since Senior Client Success Manager Lorrie Jackson is going on her eighth year working here at Finalsite, and has been involved in our workshops for even longer, as she previously worked for a few independent schools. We reached out to Lorrie to help us answer some questions for those who weren't able to make a Web Strategy Workshop event this past school year.
Hey...they also might just make you consider attending one in the fall...hint hint!
In general, how do the workshops get attendees thinking about redesigning?
As a school, it's easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day tasks and become very familiar with your own website. But sometimes it's difficult to find time or the right opportunity to step back and see what your colleague schools (and others) are doing with their websites.
"The workshops give attendees time to take a breath, see best practices from across the world and start thinking about how their school's marketing and online goals may have changed since the last redesign."
Which workshop session has led to the most discussion on redesigning?
Hands down, the Seven Second Test session is the one that has opened up the floor to conversation about redesigning.
"Recently, Finalsite started a Pinterest page with many examples of both full redesigns as well as design treatments for say admission, advancement, and more. The opening session at our workshops often includes using some of these examples — from blogs to campus tours to infographics to best in class designs and more. This initial discussion helps schools see what's possible and what's current and lays a good foundation for the later session: The Seven Second Test."
What have attendees shared about the workshops influencing their redesign?
We're still receiving feedback from attendees on how these workshops have sparked ideas, initiative, and more for their redesigns.
Kathryn Forney, Marketing and Communications Coordinator at First Baptist Academy, attended our Houston workshop earlier this month.
"The Web Strategy Workshop was helpful in getting ideas for our website redesign straight from the source," she said. "It was also great to see what other schools in the area do with their website, piggybacking off of questions they had, and how they market to their audience. I was extremely pleased with the quality of Finalsite's Web Strategy Workshop and would recommend anyone to attend if they are in the middle of a redesign or considering a website redesign."
Katherine Scott, Communications Coordinator at Carolina Friends School, attended our Charlotte workshop back in March when their redesign process had already started. As they near the revamp of their new site, Katherine still says the workshop was beneficial as she heard from other schools on their redesign process. She says, "We had already begun our redesign process with Finalsite when I attended the workshop in Raleigh, so the wheels were already in motion, but it was especially helpful to hear from others who had recently or were currently undergoing the process as well to get an additional perspective and hear some creative solutions to shared challenges."
Other schools like The Kinkaid School and Cardinal Gibbons High School also had the opportunity to share their newly redesign websites in person at their workshops:
Where can schools find examples of recent redesigns?
Lorrie has encouraged workshop attendees to visit our Pinterest page, where we've pinned different levels of designs we offer. Did you know we also feature schools on a weekly basis in the Finalsite Blog? And if you're planning to come to FinalsiteU this year, we have a good number of schools coming to share their success stories in their own sessions during the conference. You can also visit our online portfolio at any time to compare some of our recent redesigns in your specific market, get an inside look of the redesign process, and take advantage of some additional design resources we have just for you!
After hosting these workshops for nearly seven years (and attending them for even longer!), Lorrie has become an expert at knowing the true value these Web Strategy Workshops have on both Finalsite clients and non-clients. Regardless of where you are with content marketing, web design, and other factors, these workshops are an amazing opportunity to learn something new.
"Some of the obstacles that a school faces when considering a website redesign are great topics to ask other schools about at the workshop, including: getting admin buy-in, deciding whether to make small changes now or invest down the road in a bigger overhaul, assessing your current site for its 'shelf life, etc. The Web Strategy Workshops are part user-group, part networking, and part Finalsite road map. Whether a school is looking to redesign now or next semester or next year or on, an attendee will get valuable information from their colleagues at the event and from the sessions themselves."
Join us For a Free Workshop
Interested in attending a Web Strategy Workshop event this fall? Check our website this summer to see if we'll be coming to an area near you. If your school is also interested in hosting a Web Strategy Workshop event during next school year, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite's newest member to the Marketing Team, Stephanie brings a fresh new marketing perspective with her background in social media, communications, and radio broadcasting. Stephanie is passionate about helping schools stay ahead of their marketing goals by tracking new trends and developments. She is also a practicing musician (singer/songwriter) and loves to expand her creativity in DIY projects.