This morning I spent a couple of hours looking at the websites of relatively large school districts. These are my thoughts and observations after viewing them from the perspective of a parent.
Make It Obvious!
The good sites make it obvious for parents to find recent and relevant information.
Don’t make parents dig through a variety of vaguely named menus to find the information they need about your school. I looked at one district’s website this morning to try to find the school calendar for next fall. There was not a single tab or menu anywhere on the homepage labeled “calendar” or “schedule.” The school calendar was only found if you clicked on a tab labeled “menu” then scrolled down to the fourth sub-menu that was labeled “calendars.” Information about the school board members, human resources information for staff, and an outdated 2015-2020 strategic plan were all listed higher than the school year calendar.
Social Media Isn’t a Replacement for a Good Website
Posting on social media is not a replacement for having a well-designed and frequently updated school/ school district website.
Some of the better sites I looked at included embedded streams of district/ school social media postings. They do that because they recognize that not every parent or student uses social media. Additionally, when you rely on social media you’re hoping that parents and students will follow your accounts. And even if they do follow your accounts you then have to hope that your postings will stand-out from all of the other updates that parents and students see from the other accounts they follow.
Who is running the website?
The better websites that I looked at this morning were from school districts that have someone on staff whose job title included communications director or public relations. The bad ones seemed to be run as almost an afterthought or lower priority task of the IT department.