Ian is Product Director at Schudio who specialise in developing unified online technology to help schools and colleges communicate and engage their community effectively, and who are currently working with over 200 schools in the UK. He spends a lot of time working with school leaders to establish products and strategy which dramatically improve the way schools communicate with the outside world.
Your website is one of the most invaluable tools for communicating effectively with your wider school community, and it is the first port of call for most parents to access key information. The run up to the summer hols is a great time to get on top of your website and make sure it’s all set for the new year and it’s a popular time for schools to do an entire refresh too.
Allow me to introduce Anita. Anita is 12 years old. She is paralysed from the waist down, caused by a polio infection a number of years ago. While there are cuts in the UK that are impacting upon the level of care that is able to be delivered to children with special needs, we’re still a million miles away from the reality of life for children who live in many parts of the world.
Your website has become the first port of call for everyone interested in engaging with with your school. It is true of parents who will be looking for information that reassures them that yours is the school for their son or daughter. Your website is your best marketing tool to this audience.
Some of the most special moments during my recent visit to Rukungiri, Uganda this June were at the project at Kitazigurukwa Primary School where we spent much of our time. The SEN school and dormitories for the disabled children are already in place and so we have been working on a kitchen and storage building specifically for the children and then another for the teachers house.
I have been on an incredible, emotional and laughter-filled adventure this June. So that I can give you as much of a flavour of what Uganda is like and what the needs are, I will be writing a few blogs looking at some of the projects that we were involved with while we were there.
Schools are all under a significant obligation to provide certain information on their school websites these days. This is a bit of a problem for lots of schools in itself. The reality is that schools have to compete more and more on every level and having a website that is fresh, modern and regularly updated is key to your success.
I meet with schools all over the country regularly, and one of the recurring themes is the struggle for schools to effectively keep their websites up to date. Of course I’ll say that having a system that is easy to use helps enormously, but whatever system you have in place, or whichever method you use to keep your website up-to-date, by following a few steps that are quite straightforward you can have a website for your school that is engaging and keeps users coming back time and time again.
In our first article on Google Analytics we looked at the basics of analytics; how do users find your web site, what pages are your users looking at and how do they interact with that content.
The next natural step is to look at the data in a little more detail and use some of the slightly more advanced features to influence the structure of your site and its content and ultimately the users of your site.
We’re going to use the example of a large independent Sixth Form and see how certain changes are influencing the habits of users. The principles apply to any school or college, whatever the size.
Google Analytics is the most exciting opportunity a school has to find out what students and parents, both current and prospective, are using your web site for. At first glance Google Analytics may appear something of a monster but, with a little knowledge, you can gain valuable insights into what your users are looking for and make informed judgements on engaging them online.
By following a few simple steps you can see whether you’re providing your users with the right information in a way they find easy to access. From here, it isn’t a huge step to start to influence their browsing habits in order to get your users to look at the content you want them to see.