Your public-facing website is a source of information for current parents and students as well as prospective students and your broader school community. It is the public face of your school in the online arena. Having created a shining website for your school, carefully gathered and polished the content, designed the layout and navigation, sourced images, created and checked your internal and external links to engage your community, you want to make sure it stays current, relevant and accurate.
A smart school will approach maintaining its website in the same way as other work tasks, where each task has someone assigned to it.
Assign roles and responsibilities
One way to make sure updates to your site don’t slip through the cracks is to assign roles and responsibilities for producing, reviewing and updating content to individuals. Consider including website responsibilities in your organisation’s performance review measures, to ensure staff members prioritise your website. Depending on your school’s needs, size and staff capabilities, staff may share roles or be responsible for multiple roles.
The person who supplies information for a page, section or post is not necessarily the person who is responsible for assembling and publishing content. And it’s not necessarily the person who publishes your content that knows whether information is accurate and up-to-date.
Depending on the size of your site, you may need an overall coordinator, and/or coordinators for different sections or pages. The coordinator’s role is to review existing content regularly and to source content updates from the appropriate people, that is, from the people who can make sure the information is current and correct.
The content provider’s role is to provide quality information. That includes sourcing and checking content in a timely manner, and notifying the relevant coordinator when they need to update any details on the site.
Once you have established your website, don’t neglect the effort that went into finding quality content. Your content should continue to evolve.
You will also need to manage consistency across the site. This is particularly important where multiple authors supply content. Assigning a role of content editor to a suitable staff member ensures someone is keeping an eye on uniformity.
Sensible and reasonable deadlines will help staff keep on top of the tasks they need to perform. Agree on timelines for when tasks need to be completed, and incorporate any deadlines or agreed turn-around times into the responsibilities of each role. This should include checking existing content, providing new content, editing and publishing content.
For instance, a coordinator might be responsible for checking existing content once a month. If the coordinator finds information that requires a review or an update, the content provider might be responsible for performing the review and providing revised content within three working days, or another agreed timeframe that suits the circumstance.
Once you have established your website, don’t neglect the effort that went into finding quality content. Your content should continue to evolve along with your school. If you have lost interest in your website, chances are your audience has, too. Find ways to add fresh new ideas. Consider getting your students involved, for instance by hosting blogs on school activities or matters of interest. Take suggestions from the students on what topics they would like to cover. It will help their ICT skills and increase engagement. Be proactive in sourcing new content by brainstorming ideas and lining up content in advance, so there is a regular stream of new and interesting items for your audience.
Ask visitors to your site to tell you what they think. Set up a feedback form on your website, or ask specific questions in a survey. Get input from students and parents, too. After all, the information is for your audience; let them tell you what information they want and need.
A smart school will approach maintaining its website in the same way as other work tasks, where each task has someone assigned to it; everyone knows who is responsible for what and by when. By using dynamic and vibrant content and seeking regular contributions and feedback, you will also keep your community engaged. That way your staff and your audience will give your website the attention it deserves.