Many schools deal with limited budgets and can’t afford to hire a professional web designer for their websites. As a result, you see many school websites that are slow, severely outdated, and disorganized. If your child’s school is experiencing the same kind of problem, you may want to take it upon yourself to make a website for them. Here are some simple steps you can take to make a website that is attractive, functional, and informative.
Step 1: Start with a Better Web Host
If your school doesn’t have a website at all, you can register one yourself. You want to pick a .edu domain since it is an educational establishment. But most likely, the school will have a domain set up already. In this case, you’ll want to get them to switch to a better web hosting provider. This simply involves signing up a hosting account and setting the name server of the domain registrar onto the hosting account.
Step 2: Build with WordPress
WordPress is the way to go if you’re trying to build a simple site. It’s easy to use, offers many plugins for extra functionalities/features, and performs without any problems. Many modern web hosts offer a one click install for WordPress. Even if the web host you’ve chosen does not, you can still install it following the simple instructions provided by the company.
Step 3: Choose an Education Based Theme
There are many free themes that are built specifically for WordPress. It’s like website templates except that they are usually more versatile and customizable. You want to look for education based themes on their site. You can view a good list of them here. There are many free WordPress themes of various categories all over the web as well. You may even opt to go with premium themes if you want better designs, extra functionalities, and cool features.
Step 4: Design Around Why People Would Visit The Site
Purpose is one of the most important things you need to be aware of when designing a site. What are the reasons people would visit the school site? Is the website catering to parents looking to enroll their children into the school? Does the website need to relay news and events to parents whose children are currently attending the school? Does the website want to keep students updated with current events?
In most cases, the website will have multiple purposes. That’s why you’ll have to put in a lot of work in creating a navigation path for the main purposes. You want to make sure it feels intuitive for visitors to find what they’re looking for quickly. This means that you’ll need to have a clean and organized navigation menu. Various pages will also need to be grouped together if they are related. The website basically needs to have a strong structure to make it a pleasure to interact with.
Step 5: Start Updating the Photos
The visual presentation is a big part of the website’s design. In many cases, you’ll be able to use an existing website’s images like staff photos, school logo, mascot pictures, and other images. You’ll be able to reuse many of them in the new site, but you’ll still find yourself needing new graphic art or photos. This will lead to two small projects.
The first is you working with the school faculty to take new photos and add them to the new website. The second is working with a graphic designer and creating custom designs for the site. While many education based themes will come with stock photos for you to use, you’ll ultimately need custom photos and images to convey to visitors that this is the official school website and that the content reflects the specific school.
Step 6: Start Creating Content for the Site
Finally, you’ll want to create content for the school. You can ask the staff what kind of information they want on the site and create the content yourself. But the better option is to get the faculty to create the content in writing (Microsoft Word) so that you can simply copy and paste it onto the website. This will require a lot of organization and cooperation on your part.
The alternative is to hire a writer for the job. If you’re going with this option, you will still have to get all the important points down. Make sure the head of each major department communicates what needs to be on the website. The writer should be able to piece together all the main points and create a piece of cohesive content that communicates what’s important.
Step 7: Research the Best Plugins for Specific Functions/Features
If you’re going beyond just basic content, you’ll need features and functions that are not available to WordPress out of the box. For example, your school may want to allow students to login to the website to get access to their grades or be able to message faculty in real time. This will require you to install plugins to add these extra functions and features.
Since it is an educational organization, you will need to look for the best plugins for the task. You want to look for ease of use, dependability, user interface, and security. Security is one of the more important things you should look for in a plugin. The last thing you want to do is make it easy for hackers to be able to access personal information of the students attending the school.
That basically sums up the process of making a website for your child’s school. Website creation doesn’t require a big budget. The big challenge really lies in working together with the faculty to create a website that reflects the school.