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It's Time to Say "Goodbye!" Deleting Content from School Websites
Connor Gleason

We've all been there — a website cluttered and bloated with information, making navigating or finding anything useful almost impossible. It's like your "junk drawer" at home, filled with random items you're not quite ready to throw away just yet.

The fear of deleting your precious files is called “diagraphephobia,” and it's a real problem for school marketers and communicators. The phobia of hitting the "delete" button often holds us back, but it’s time to let go. It's natural to feel hesitant about removing content; it often feels like you're undoing your hard work, erasing institutional knowledge, or losing something you think you might need later.

But just like a junk drawer accumulates old batteries, paper clips, and outdated Bed Bath and Beyond coupons (#guilty), your school’s website can accumulate outdated or irrelevant content over time, too. 

While it may not seem like a huge issue at first, this clutter can gradually affect the user experience, SEO rankings, and the overall credibility of your site. It’s one of the most common reasons we hear behind a school’s decision to launch a website redesign:

“It’s too cluttered.”
“The content is outdated.”
“It’s too confusing.”
“Our families can’t find anything.”
“Our office can’t find anything.”

The good news is that “spring cleaning” can happen at any time of the year. Think of it as streamlining your school website’s user experience for efficiency and effectiveness. Your future self will be grateful, and your current visitors will thank you.

Before things get too out of hand and your colleagues call Hoarders, let’s look at the process of deciding when, what, and how to delete content from your school's website.

Identifying Outdated Content

An excellent place to start is by examining the top 50 most popular pages of your website with Google Analytics. Since they’re the most visited, they should be a priority. Review the pages for content that seems out of date or irrelevant.

Pro Tip: Utilize Google Analytics to not only identify the top pages but also examine the "time spent on page" metric. If visitors spend very little time on these outdated pages, it's a red flag.

For instance, you may have pages dedicated to annual events like "Winter Fest 2018" that have passed but still linger on your site. Or maybe there's a club page featuring after-school activities or clubs that aren't being offered.

Keep Reading: 11 Things to Delete (and Add) to Your School's Website

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Are the facts and faces current? 
  • Are there articles discussing events that happened years ago?
  • Are there bios of team members who no longer work at your school or district?
  • Will you need this content again later?
  • Can you archive the content for future use? Some content may be seasonal or event-specific.
valley view website mockup

At the launch of its district’s new website, Valley View 365U had gone from tens of thousands of pages to a few thousand. “I really made a conscious effort to look at our content and migrate only what was necessary and relevant, and trim down the number of pages to focus on our families and community as our audience,” said Nicole Eimer, Valley View’s Digital Communication Specialist.

“We wanted a better handle on the overall look of each site — visual consistency, making sure the photos are on brand, the organization, and the layout throughout the sites.”

Of course, finding, editing, and updating all this content is much more challenging when you’re going page by page. That’s why working with a content management system (CMS) like Finalsite’s Composer, makes this process much more manageable. Using a C.O.P.E. (Create Once, Publish Everywhere) strategy allows you to produce content that can be reused at various points across your website, making your editing, updating, or deleting more efficient.

Additionally, Composer's Redirect Manager makes retiring pages easy, so you can confidently delete and redirect older pages without users getting a 404 error message.

OK, so you've sifted through the top 50 pages, but there's still too much remaining. What now? Someone get Marie Kondo on the phone; it’s time to hit “delete.”

Update or Delete? Removing Old Content on Your Site

Ask yourself these questions to better understand when it’s time to let go…

  • Is the content meaningful?
    •  If the information doesn’t serve a clear purpose, it may be time to remove it.
  • Is there a reason for this information to be on your website?
    • Types of content that don't align with your brand, target audience, or mission should be reconsidered.
  • Is it helpful?
    • Whether it’s advice, information, or entertainment, content should offer value to your visitors.
  • Is it correct?
    • Outdated or incorrect information can harm your brand.
  • Is the content is good but misplaced?
    • Does it make sense in its current location? Relocating it can make all the difference.
  • Is it engaging?
    • If the analytics show visitors quickly leave the page, it might be a sign that the content isn’t engaging enough.
Pittsburg Community School homepage in a laptop mockup

When the time came for Pittsburg Community Schools to redesign its new website, the district knew it would be removing a lot of content.

“There was a lot of content that was repurposed and a lot that needed to be cut," the district said. "Originally, it felt like everything needed to stay, but eventually, we re-categorized everything because we realized it was cluttered and messy." The result was a much more streamlined user experience that better shared the district’s mission.

How to Manage Content on a Website: Practical Steps for Deleting or Saving

Optimized for Search and People

If a piece of content isn't optimized, what purpose does it serve to your marketing goals? While SEO is critical, remember that your primary audience is humans, not search engines. Keywords and meta-descriptions are essential but shouldn’t compromise readability or relevance. Google’s algorithms are increasingly capable of understanding user-friendly content.

Easy to Read

Good content is easy to scan. Use subheadings, bullet points, and images to break up text on blog posts and landing pages. Keep paragraphs short and sentences simple. For example, instead of a dense paragraph about your after-school programs, use bullet points to list them clearly.

Staying On Brand

Consistency is key in messaging, tone, and design across your website. Mixed messages can confuse visitors and dilute your brand’s impact. Make sure all web pages are aligned with your brand guidelines.

Keep Reading: Hatchet or Scalpel? 5 Tips for Migrating Content to a New School Website

Involve Stakeholders

Different departments may have different opinions about what content is “essential.” Including them in the decision-making process to ensure you're not deleting something truly crucial is a good idea.

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Purposeful vs. Engaging Content

The most effective school websites offer a purposeful and engaging experience for all types of visitors. Whether it's prospective students and their families, current students, alumni, or staff, the website should direct them along specific pathways based on their unique needs.

Making Content Purposeful

Purposeful content means that every page, every paragraph, and even every sentence serves a function. Whether it's to inform, entertain, or call to action, there should be a clear rationale behind why the content exists on your site.

For schools, this could mean having:

  • A 'Prospective Students' section that clearly lays out admission requirements, tuition fees, and showcases student life.
  • A 'Current Students' section that offers easily accessible resources for coursework, extracurricular activities, and academic calendars.
  • An 'Alumni' section that keeps former students engaged by sharing updates on school achievements, alumni stories, and upcoming reunions or events.

Engaging Your Visitors

Being engaging is about capturing and retaining the user's attention. This can be done through interactive elements, compelling stories, and visually appealing design. Imagine you have a blog post that outlines a day in the life of a student at your school. This post might be purposeful, offering prospective students an insight into daily life. But is it engaging?

  • Add Photos: Showcase different activities or classes that the student attends.
  • Add Quotes: Intersperse quotes from the student to bring the narrative to life.
  • Include a CTA (Call to Action): End the blog post with a CTA like "Want to experience this yourself? Sign up for a shadow day now!"

Navigating with Personas in Mind

To combine purposefulness and engagement, you must navigate your website as if you were each of your target personas (prospective students, current students, or alumni). The best school websites direct visitors along specific pathways based on their needs. 

For each one, the journey should be straightforward, valuable, and interesting. If any content doesn't serve these criteria for the respective personas, you may want to reconsider its place on your website.

Implement Changes

Once you have a consensus, delete or archive the content or page. Always have a backup before making any significant changes. For instance, administrators using Finalsite’s Composer can easily restore a page to an earlier version if a page's content is deleted by mistake or you have a change of heart.

Key Takeaway

Don’t let the fear of hitting "delete" stop you from improving your site. Less is more when it comes to web content — it’s really okay to say “goodbye.” Regularly updating and deleting content is crucial for maintaining an efficient, reliable, and user-friendly school website.

The Ultimate School Website Planner

Connor Gleason Headshot


Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.

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