School Website Design for Schools, Colleges & Universities in Zimbabwe
Before a parent or student physically sets a foot into a school building, there is an opportunity for a virtual visit. That virtual visit takes place through a school’s website, and the information that is available on this website makes an important first impression.
That first impression is an opportunity to highlight the school’s best qualities and to show how welcoming the school community is to all stakeholders-parents, students, educators, and community members. Once this positive impression is made, the website can provide a wide variety of information, from posting an exam schedule to announcing an early dismissal because of inclement weather. The website can also effectively communicate the school’s vision and mission, the qualities, and the offerings to each of these stakeholders. In effect, the school website presents the personality of the school.
What Goes on the Website
Most school websites have the following basic information:
- Calendars for school activities, school schedules, and bus schedules;
- Policy statements (ex: dress code, Internet use, attendance);
- School news on individual student achievements or group achievements;
- Information on the school learning activities including academic requirements, course descriptions, and prerequisite course work;
- Information on school extra-curricular activities (ex: clubs and athletic program);
- Links to teacher web pages and also staff and faculty contact information;
Some websites may also provide additional information including:
- Links to organizations or websites outside the school that support the school’s academic program
- Links to software that contain student data
- Links to forms (ex: permission slips, course registration, attendance waivers, transcript requests, free and reduced lunch) that can reduce the costly reproduction of paper copies;
- Education resources such as contact information for board members, minutes of meetings, agendas, and meeting schedules;
- District policies, such as those policies on data privacy;
- Photos of students and faculty;
- A forum or discussion page for teachers, administrators, students, and parents to exchange information such as news and calendars of events;
- Links to school social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc).
Information placed on the school website will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Therefore, all the information on the school website must be timely and accurate. Dated material should be removed or archived. In real time information will provide stakeholders confidence in the information posted. Up to date information is particularly important for teacher websites that list assignments or homework for students and parents to see.
Who Has Responsibility for the School Website?
Every school website must be a reliable source of information that is communicated clearly and accurately. That task is usually assigned to a school’s Information Technology or IT Department. This department is often organized at the district level with each school having a webmaster for the school website.
When an IT Department is not available, Icono Global will update their websites for them. Unfortunately, building and maintaining a website is a large task that can take several hours a week. In such cases, a more collaborative approach of assigning responsibility for sections of the website might be more manageable.
Navigating the School Website
Possibly the most important consideration in designing the school website is the navigation. The navigation design of a school website is particularly important because of the number and variety of pages that may be offered to users of all ages, including those who may be unfamiliar with websites entirely.
Good navigation on a school website should include a navigation bar, clearly defined tabs, or labels that clearly differentiate the pages of the website. Parents, educators, students, and community members should be able to travel throughout the entire website regardless of the level of proficiency with websites.
Particular attention should be given to encouraging parents to use the school website. That encouragement might include training or demonstrations for parents during school open houses or parent-teacher meeting. Schools could even offer technology training for parents after school or on special evening activity nights.
Whether it is someone 1500 miles away, or a parent living down the road, everyone is afforded the same opportunity to see the school’s website online. Administrators and faculty should see school website as the front door of the school, an opportunity to welcome all virtual visitors and make them feel comfortable in order to make that great first impression.
There are reasons to make the school website as attractive and professional as possible. While a private school may be looking to attract students through a website, both public and private school administrators may be seeking to attract high-quality staff who can drive achievement results. Businesses in the community may want to reference a school’s website in order to attract or expand economic interests. Taxpayers in the community may see a well-designed website as a sign that the school system is also well-designed.
If you need a website for your school, college or university, contact Icono Global today at firstname.lastname@example.org