You’ve just finished a big project and you’re on to the next one, but first, you need to tackle a dozen other tasks and somehow get back to that assignment that's overdue ... Finding the time to make necessary updates and fixes to your school website can be challenging, but it never seems to be at the top of your "to-do" list. Can you relate?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that making changes to your website is a massive lift, that it’s something to do when all other projects have been completed and you finally have a big chunk of time to breathe and focus. Because that happens in school marketing so often — right? No… not really.
Here’s the thing: Improving critical areas of your school’s website doesn’t have to be a huge lift. Completing just a few easy school website edits regularly can ensure your site is sparkly and fresh without stressing about carving out hours at a time.
Here are five 10-minute fixes that make it easy to manage your school website:
1. Show, don’t tell: Update your images
Does your homepage feature a preschooler who is now a senior in high school with a full-grown beard? If your school community no longer requires masking of students and staff, but your site still prominently features photos and videos of classrooms full of masked students — it’s time for an update. Nothing can say “this website is old” than outdated photos.
I know what you’re thinking: “How am I going to get all new photos on the website in 10 minutes?” You might be surprised to find that updating some of those key images takes less time than you think!
Focusing on your top-visited web pages will ensure your new images will see the most traffic. The homepage is a great place to start, but remember, not all visitors will enter through the main door. Think about your top tier or main navigation pages, and then find out what your most visited pages are using Google Analytics.
Tanglin Trust School, a British international school in Singapore, does a great job visually representing the range of students they serve with bright, engaging portrait-style photos of students in those appropriate grade levels. Swapping out these photos regularly is a great way to keep your site fresh without the heavy lifting.
Think about this from a seasonal perspective as well. Are you currently promoting your school open houses? What about tuition and financial aid? Swapping in updated images on these pages will go a long way to freshen them up without taking a whole lot of time.
2. Don’t take our word for it: Revamp your testimonials
Another item that can quickly date your site is using old testimonials. If you’re still using quotes from teachers who are no longer on staff or parents whose students have left the school, it’s time to find some new voices. Gathering new testimonials and stories throughout the year will make updating testimonials easier when the time comes.
But how should you collect those kind words others have to say about your school? Look to where these efforts may already be happening, and see if there is an opportunity to share in the wealth!
- Do you send out a new parent or back-to-school survey?
- How about any end-of-the-year interviews with graduating students?
- Do you have an established channel for teachers to provide you with feedback from current students?
- Does your advancement office have regular communications with alumni?
If you aren’t aware of any of these touchpoints, think about developing your own method of collecting testimonials or feedback. Using a Finalsite form is a simple and effective way to offer your community an outlet for valuable feedback and content that can, in turn, be used in so many ways.
Don’t be afraid to put a call out on social media, too! A quick post asking for favorite memories or advice for students can be shared publicly or through a direct message.
Woodward Academy does an amazing job of featuring student testimonials and stories on its website. These are full-on student profiles featuring what they like best about school, social and extracurricular aspects of daily life, and how they plan to use their current education later in life — you know, the “what I want to be when I grow up” type of answers.
While profiles such as this will take a little bit more planning and in-depth interviews, the payoff is a tremendous insight into who Woodward’s students are and will offer impressive social proof for those interested in the school for themselves or their child. Woodward Academy also shares alumni spotlights which is a great connection between the students of today and the outcomes they can expect.
If you want to share your testimonials in a shorter format, look no further than Park Hill School District. One or two-sentence quotes from current students, staff, alumni, and parents offer a big impact moment in a concise way.
Looking for more ways to use or reuse your testimonials? Check out Say That Again-7 Ways to Repurpose 1 School Quote.
3. Create a more accessible experience: Swap out your PDFs ASAP
In this day and age, your school's website accessibility is a necessity, not a luxury. Ensuring your website meets accessibility standards doesn’t have to be an overwhelming prospect, and starting with one relatively simple task can make the accessibility mountain seem slightly less daunting: replace PDFs with more accessible content.
I know, I know — it is SO easy just to upload that PDF of the school calendar or hot lunch menu and call it a day, but did you know that traditional PDFs are not ADA-compliant or accessible? Present that content in a more accessible way and reach a wider audience.
Ensuring that all families who visit your site have equitable access to your information is crucial, and starting with the lunch menu is a great first step because food service and hot lunch pages are some of the top-visited school website pages.
Pittsburg Community Schools has found a fantastic solution by using a Finalsite Calendar that lists the district's daily breakfast and lunch options. Pittsburg also includes links to download the menus, noting that they may not reflect any updates or changes.
But what if little Johnny was expecting a hot dog, and it’s been swapped out for a meatball sub? What then? Oh, the humanity! By using a dynamic, accessible, and easily updatable option, like Pittsburg, you can ensure your menus can be viewed by all, and Johnny will know precisely what he’ll be enjoying for lunch each day.
4. Add an instant attention grabber: Use a website notification
You’ve done the hard work and a family is on your site. Now, get their attention with a website notification. With these handy little pop-ups, you’ll be able to grab the attention of your visitors and provide them with the information you want them to know. Think about publicizing an upcoming open house, offering a campus tour, or promoting a content offer like a viewbook download.
When determining which pages to add your pop-up, think beyond your homepage and enable these notifications on your site’s most popular pages. By leveraging website notifications on your inquiry pages, tuition pages, or admission page, you’re engaging an audience that’s already there, and you’ll be able to drive them to take action, like register for an open house or request more information.
Finalsite Page Pops make it easy. You control not only where your notifications appear, but you can also add your own branded formatting like graphics, photos, and even video. Plus, set date and time parameters, and even a “delay” functionality where your notification appears after a set amount of time or after the user has scrolled down the page.
Using a pop-up like The Philadelphia School is a surefire way to grab your visitor’s attention. Within Finalsite’s content management system (CMS) Composer, Page Pops, make it a breeze to customize and target specific audience groups.
It only takes a few minutes, but a little work can make a big difference in conversions.
5. You want me to do what? Check your calls to action
Picture this: a parent visits your school website — they are blown away by your stunning imagery and wowed by your messaging … but now what? What action do you want them to take? Evaluating the calls to action (CTA) on your site is essential to defining the journey you want visitors to take once they get there.
When assessing your calls to action, make sure you are putting yourself in your visitor's shoes. Remember, families are at different stages of the inbound funnel and may need more, or specific, information before making a decision. A prospective family looking for information on admissions and enrollment doesn’t need to be prompted to donate to your school at that point in their journey.
The Alfred & Adele Davis Academy highlights four distinct calls to action that follow the user throughout their journey on the home page: Inquire, Visit, Apply, and Give. Not only are these featured as sticky buttons on the right side of the home page, but they also feature prominently in the site's footer section.
Many of the calls to action you have on your site will remain consistent throughout the school year. For frequent visitors to your site, CTAs and other content can become like “wallpaper” and not stand out in the way you intended. With more seasonal happenings or events, like open houses, open enrollment, financial aid, and graduation, think about new and different ways to present these CTAs to grab the attention of your visitors.
It is also vital to regularly review the success of your CTAs:
- Are they helping you achieve your goals?
- Are they aimed at your target audience?
- Are they easy to spot and accessible?
- How do they function on a mobile device?
Improving and updating your website doesn't have to be a burden. Minor edits that make a big impact can be accomplished in just 10 minutes, and will help your school's website stay fresh!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jana is the Client Marketing Specialist with Finalsite, focused on sharing and celebrating client stories and their successes. She's spent nearly the last decade working within the field of education, specifically within independent schools working in the offices of admissions, development, and communications.