Your school or district website is a significant investment in both time and money. Before you start sending out RFPs and getting quotes, use this checklist and you’ll more than likely end up with the perfect provider, and website, for your school.
Gather feedback from surveys
Survey feedback can help you identify some glaring website needs. Conduct a survey of your parents, teachers and students. Ask them what they like about your current site and what needs improvement.
Assemble a selection committee
Whether you’re the webmaster, IT director or school communications director, you don’t have to make a decision alone. An excellent way to assure that you’re making the best decision is to put together a committee to help you choose a website provider. The committee should include representatives from your communications and technology departments as well as high-ranking administrators. Don’t forget also to include a teacher or two.
Define your goals
Create a written mission statement that describes why your website exists. What do you want the website to do? It’s OK to have more than one objective, but you should prioritize these goals and accomplish first what’s most important.
Evaluate vendors’ technology
You don’t want your website to be outdated as soon as it launches. Make sure to dig into a vendor’s technology and don’t get too distracted by the aesthetics of a website. By choosing inferior technology, you will more than likely make it harder to change down the road.
Does the website provider offer themes that use responsive web design?
Does the website work, and look, the same on any browser and operating system?
- Is the content management system easy to use, and are web pages easy to create and edit?
Don’t worry about the number of templates you can choose from
Most providers offer pre-designed templates or themes, which can save you time and money. Rather than scrolling through hundreds of similar looking themes to find one you’re happy with, your website provider should allow you to configure certain elements to make the design specific to your school, and provide custom design services to make your website stand out.
Review implementation, training and support offerings
It’s important to choose a website provider that provides training and will respond immediately to customer service inquiries and other questions. Also, be sure to ask about the implementation process, including migrating content from your old website.
Ask about potential security issues
Securing your sensitive information should be a high priority. You will want to choose a provider that takes security and reliability very serious.
How, and where, is your website’s data and information stored?
What is the uptime guarantee?
Will they keep your website free from hackers?