There's so much that goes on behind the scenes when launching a new school website. An important part early in that process is collecting feedback from your constituents about what they hope to see from your school website, including how the site should be used, its content, and what the site says about your school.
Since it’s a representation of your school, you want your website to accurately represent its people, its academic programs, as well as its mission. In many ways, it’s a community project, and you want your community’s voices to be included—once it’s launched, you can’t “un-bake the cake.”
Prior to launch, before you collect all your content, before you start laying out design options and redesigning your site, consider sending a poll to survey users and gather opinions about what they want to see on your new site.
What is a school website stakeholder survey?
A stakeholder survey is a way to collect opinions, suggestions, and feedback from members of your school community. Prior to a website redesign, it can be a way to gather helpful information about how your constituents use your current site, what content they’d hope to find when they visit your site, and their visions for your school's website.
It can be used to gather feedback about what folks like, and also dislike, about the current site to assist the developers with the creation of your new site. Questions usually dive into their pain points and what makes their “wish list.”
It’s a good time to gather school website redesign questions about your school or district's brand and mission, and how your groups see that reflected within the web pages. The results can be collected and used to guide strategic decisions about your school’s site—everything from site content, its navigation, structure, and most importantly, user experience.
What questions should I ask in a stakeholder survey?
The best questions to ask will depend on who your stakeholders are and what you want to understand their perspectives on. You’ll want to keep your questions simple, short, and straight to the point–confusing people will skew your results and reduce your completion rate.
The great news is that if you’re redesigning your school website with Finalsite, our deployment team will provide you with your very own survey to distribute to key players on your team to get the ball rolling. Your designer and project manager will use that feedback to steer the visual direction of your website design and guide your website redesign strategy from the very beginning.
Learn more about West Hartford Public Schools' redesign and the steps they took prior to launch.
Questions to ask users before a website redesign can include:
Learning About Your School
Defining the mission and vision of your school can help paint a clearer picture of how your school is perceived, both internally and externally:
- If you were giving an "elevator pitch" to a family, how would you describe your school?
- How would you describe your students?
- List your top peer schools and the ways in which you differentiate yourselves.
- What factors contribute to families choosing your school?
- What perceptions exist about your school? Are they accurate?
- What are the traditions that bind your community?
Marketing Your Website
Your new website will be the cornerstone of your school’s marketing efforts. Asking questions about your website’s role in your long-term marketing and publicity goals will help gain a better understanding of how to reach your target audiences.
- As it relates to your school's strategic plan, how should your website support your initiatives and address key challenges?
- Share three or more examples of school websites that you like, as well as your thoughts about why you like them.
- How do you want your site to appear on mobile devices?
- Are there websites from other industries you like? Why do you like them?
Your Homepage Content
- Your new homepage will often be the first touchpoint for new families—first impressions matter! Ask others about what content you’d like to see featured and what message you’d want to convey to your website visitors.
- What dynamic elements do you need on your homepage (news, calendars, social media feeds, etc.)?
- Are there any additional visual elements or branding that must be on your homepage (association logos, tag lines, positioning statements, social media links, etc)?
- What are your primary objectives for the homepage? Are there specific conversion rates or calls to action you’d like included? (inquiry, visit, apply).
Getting feedback on your school’s current marketing collateral, as well as style and branding efforts, can help define your school's visual aesthetic and have it translate over to your website.
- Are there any additional publications (viewbooks, marketing, publications, style guides) that should inform the direction of the design?
- What are three adjectives that describe how you want your website to look? (Clean, Vibrant, Playful, Traditional, etc.)
- Do you have a branding guide that outlines your school or district's fonts, colors, and logos?
- What is the color palette to be used for your site? Are there any fonts or colors that should NOT be used for the design?
Your Current Website
Ask questions about how your current community engages or doesn't engage, with your current school website, including:
- In your experience, has your existing website allowed you to engage prospective and current families?
- How often do you use your site? What are you using it for?
- How satisfied are you with the navigation on your current site? Is it easy to find the information you're looking for?
- If you update your site’s content regularly, how easy is it to make edits and add landing pages, for example?
- What is the mobile experience like? Is your site’s content mobile-friendly and easy to use on a smartphone?
- If you could make any changes to your current site, what would they be?
Once you’ve compiled your list of questions, make sure they’re as straightforward and concise as possible. If your survey is complicated or wouldn’t result in the feedback you’re hoping to collect, try rephrasing your questions or brainstorm some new topics to explore.
Read about Stuart Country Day School's redesign and how they collected feedback.
Who do I include in a stakeholder survey?
You’ll want to include team members who are involved in the key decisions during your redesign. That could include your superintendent or head of school, admission and enrollment officers, school administrators, and members of the advancement or alumni office. It could even involve parents and teachers/support staff.
Each member of your stakeholder team may have a different vision for the website, so try to limit the amount of feedback to a manageable number. Completing this survey thoughtfully also puts the designer in the best possible position to tell your school’s story.
How do I launch a stakeholder survey?
Before you send out your stakeholder survey, you’ll have to consider how you’ll distribute, analyze, and present the findings in a way that’s meaningful and useful. Here are the steps you’ll want to follow:
Once you’re settled on what questions you want to ask and what groups you want to survey, you’ll want to give your respondent enough time to provide thoughtful feedback.
Decide on the survey format (face to face, Zoom, an online form). You may also want to consider a way for folks to respond anonymously, so your stakeholders feel comfortable providing honest opinions.
2. Survey design
Design the survey, which can include a mix of qualitative and quantitative questions to help get a more accurate picture of your stakeholders’ perspectives and feedback. Question formats include multiple-choice, ranking order, and open-ended questions.
3. Distribute your survey
Share your survey with your stakeholders and explain the benefits of completing the form. The larger the participation rate, the more accurate the information can be. Set a deadline for collecting your responses, and be sure to send a friendly reminder to your group before the date sneaks up.
What do I do with the results of a stakeholder survey?
Once your survey has been completed, it’s time to start analyzing! Average the results—quantitative data is relatively straightforward to process and extract conclusions. If the majority of your questions were open-ended or qualitative, look for patterns or similar answers. Then, submit and discuss your findings with your deployment and design team to help guide some of the important design and content choices headed your way.
- 6 Signs That Your School Website Needs A Redesign
- What Can I Expect From The Finalsite Redesign Process?
Prior to your school’s website redesign, sharing a stakeholder survey with your community can help collect what you’ll need to help guide your redesign decisions. Including the vision and preferences of your constituents will help create a website that is a truer version of your school community.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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 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, story-telling, coffee, and creating content that connects.