Does your college’s web site want a brand new webhosting supplier? Possibly the webhosting contract is up, or it’s simply not connecting along with your college students, mother and father, and group prefer it may. Does it lack the performance you could successfully talk data? It may simply look outdated and never mirror your college’s picture.
All of these are nice causes to think about a brand new web site. It’s a main supply of college data for a lot of in your viewers and a key driver in your college’s general communications effectiveness. In case your web site’s not doing its job, it could have many adversarial results.
When you’re a personal college, your web site is usually step one within the recruiting course of. When you’re a public college, your web site and the way you employ it could make or break a tax levy marketing campaign. No matter your sort of college – public, personal, constitution – your web site is a important device in fostering engagement and cooperation between college students, lecturers, and fogeys.You might really feel some urgency to get your new website up and working. Nevertheless, your web site is simply too vital to hurry the choice as to which web site internet hosting supplier (content material administration system) to decide on.
Fairly than hastening the method, it’s price it to take your time and make the precise choice. Interview quite a few college web site internet hosting suppliers. Take their platforms for a check drive. Contact their different purchasers for suggestions. Do your due diligence so you may make certain that you may have the web site and repair supplier to satisfy all of your wants.
Earlier than you merely begin sending out RFPs or getting quotes, use the next guidelines for choosing the precise college web site internet hosting suppliers to information your search:
1. Take a strategic strategy.
Your web site is simply too vital for a snap choices. You want an internet site that satisfies all stakeholders, whether or not they’re lecturers, directors, mother and father, or college students. Simply as you may have lesson plans to steer studying, transportation plans to get the scholars to and from college, a recreation plan for the varsity soccer group, an internet communications plan as half of a bigger college communications plan is important. Right here are some things you are able to do to be sure to’re taking a strategic strategy:
- Assemble a variety committee. You don’t must make this choice alone. In actual fact, you shouldn’t make it alone. When you’re the webmaster, or IT director, or college communications director and the choice is essentially yours, encompass your self with different key individuals. Put collectively a committee to vet web site internet hosting suppliers. The committee ought to embody high-ranking directors, just like the superintendent, together with representatives out of your communications, expertise, and enrollment departments. You may additionally embody a trainer or two.
- Outline your targets. What would you like the web site to do? Recruit new college students? Get mother and father extra engaged? Join your college to the encompassing group? It’s okay if you would like it to perform a number of issues, however you must prioritize these targets. Create a written mission of why your web site exists and what it ought to accomplish.
- Collect suggestions about your present website. Conduct a survey of your mother and father, lecturers, and college students. What do they like about your present website? What would they wish to see improved? The suggestions from these surveys might shed new mild in your priorities. I assure you’ll establish some evident wants.
2. Assessment the supplier’s technological choices.
Don’t get blown away by aesthetics. Fairly, dig into the expertise behind the location. Aesthetics can all the time be modified, however a technologically inferior website might be onerous to get well from. In any case, you desire a website that may final for years. You don’t need it to be outdated as quickly because it launches.
There are two main technological issues that you must contemplate:
- Is it responsive? A responsive web site is one that may adapt its look to suit any gadget. So, irrespective of whether or not your viewers is accessing your website by their mobile phone, pill, or laptop, your website will nonetheless load correctly. That is more and more vital today because the variety of cellular customers hitting your web site is rising quickly.w
- Does it have interoperability? Which means that the location works the identical in any browser and working system. There was a time when Web Explorer was the dominant net browser, however in keeping with statcounter, IE’s recognition is waning, whereas Google’s Chrome product continues to assemble tempo. As we speak, individuals use all kinds of browsers and working techniques, so that you need to make certain that your web site will work on all of them.
3. Check the location’s ease-of-use.
Ideally, your website will most likely be managed by a number of events with various levels of technical know-how. You’ll have directors including content material and managing calendars. You could have coaches updating group data pages. Your lecturers can have their very own mini-sites inside the bigger web site. Faculty secretaries, lunchroom girls – the listing goes on.
It’s unrealistic, in fact, to anticipate all of these people to grow to be web site specialists. Nevertheless it’s not an excessive amount of to ask of your web site supplier that it accommodates the non-techie consumer. You want a website that’s straightforward to make use of and edit. The easiest way to try this is with a content material administration system (CMS) that permits customers to edit the web site by merely typing in what they need to see, very similar to they’d in a phrase processor.
Content material administration techniques additionally enable for simple design adjustments, social media sharing, and the power to embed hyperlinks, photographs, and movies. Each supplier has a unique CMS with distinctive traits and options. You need to ask every supplier for those who can check their CMS out to see whether or not it is going to be straightforward to your employees to regulate to.
4. Think about design choices.
Will you have the ability to get an internet site that appears distinctive, skilled, and aesthetically pleasing? Can they match the location’s design to your college colours and different branding parts?
Most suppliers base their designs off templates, however then customise sure parts to make the design particular to you. This can be a profit to you as a result of it saves you money and time. Nevertheless, you additionally don’t desire a web site that appears generic and that duplicates the looks of different websites.
You need to ask the supplier to point out you what number of totally different design templates they use. What number of options may be personalized? Can incorporate some particular designs or do you need to stick with the templates? If you’d like some elements of the templates modified, how lengthy will it take and what would be the extra price?
5. Assessment their assist and coaching.
Sooner or later, you’ll have questions on your web site. You might not have the ability to determine easy methods to implement a sure function. Your group could also be not sure about easy methods to replace their pages inside the website. You might want get a communication out rapidly and have some points sharing it on social media.
When these points pop up, what are your choices? Does the supplier have a devoted assist line? Are you able to speak to somebody on the telephone or is it solely by e mail? What are their hours of operation?
Additionally, test to see how they’ll practice you and your employees when the location is applied. Do they do it in individual, over the telephone, or with some sort of interactive seminar? Do they practice you and your group or do they merely practice you and depart the remainder of the coaching in your fingers?
6. Are they safe and dependable?
By safe and dependable, I am speaking extra about their technical safety points. You could have delicate data in your website’s database, together with pupil and trainer names, in addition to dwelling addresses and even social safety numbers. Securing that delicate data ought to be a excessive precedence. Moreover, you need to make certain that your website is free from hackers and that it’ll keep on-line always.
What safety choices do they provide? How do they backup your website’s knowledge and knowledge? If their servers crash, what are your choices? These might appear to be unlikely situations, but it surely’s nonetheless vital to ask the questions.
7. Speak to their different prospects.
Lastly, the very last thing you’ll need to do is get the total story from the suppliers’ different prospects. The supplier will doubtless provide you with just a few references. These are most likely those that they know will present constructive suggestions. Go a little bit deeper: ask for a few extra names, too.
Ask the shoppers how lengthy they’ve been with the supplier, why they switched, and whether or not they’ve been blissful. Additionally, ask about areas the place they’d wish to see enchancment. Speaking to prospects will provide you with a good suggestion of what the supplier’s expertise is like after their resolution has been applied.
Your web site is a big funding, each by way of money and time. It’s price it to take the time to do your due diligence and be sure to get the precise resolution. Observe these steps and also you’ll doubtless find yourself with a great match and the right supplier – and web site – to your college.