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General Chat Thread, Website Design ? in General; one of the deputies wants twitter, Facebook, pupil photos (on main pages) and links to local shops and business (community ...
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    Website Design ?

    one of the deputies wants twitter, Facebook, pupil photos (on main pages) and links to local shops and business (community liaison ) , and constant news/website updates though Iím not sure this is the way to go whatís your opinions ?
    what they are essentially doing will be turning our website in to a full time role (as if I havenít already got enough work) we already have news forums and news tickers as well as a gallery but these are managed by our office staff, so since I finished the site it has not required any input from myself

    Our site already contains the essential information and most of the desirable information as shown here Your school website | Clerk to Governors apart from the twitter feed

    I have tried to explain that in my opinion the site is generally viewed by job hunters, parents and perspective parents and at best this could only be around 800 families and I know form our link counting logs that the only hits our site really receives are to our calendar, vacancies, our email and remote folder access these account for 90% of the hits
    my personal opinion is that it

    1)Should contain direct links on the front page to timeless relevant information of the school and individual subjects so as constant updates are not required, i.e. not creating pages for trips or events, but adding these in a news ticker of some sort
    2) a very limited number of photos of students if any, other than say maybe a general gallery that can simply be uploaded to
    3) should not include links to business as this could be seen as giving unfair biased advertising and the school may be held liable if someone follows that link and purchases something on the schools advise
    4) whilst twitter Facebook etc. may be great for some , would anyone really be interested ?Ė we have a txt to parents system, that I opted out of as I got fed up with the constant spam!

    Our deputies seem to be under the impression we can get more hits if we provide more information,

    But why would we want to , the parents arenít that interested in seeing what their kids do at school and if they are they can access our school parental portal for all the information they require and Iím sure they are quite capable of using google to search for local business and offers !

    Is there any real guidance to the general layout of a website?
    I personally love https://www.gov.uk/designprinciples and think this is really clear

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    DrPerceptron's Avatar
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    General layout guidance? No, it's whatever is "fit for purpose".

    You are right in thinking that school sites are generally visited by parents, job hunters and prospective parents, but they are also viewed by the students, primary schools and if you're active in the community, the greater community around the school. It is actually quite a lot - don't forget the extended family as well, if you're publishing news about events that students are in - they may want to share that with the rest of the family if they live somewhere else etc.

    If you go down the route of regular updates, it is a full time job to update it etc.

    I also agree on the business links thing, but not because of bias or anything like that, I just think it's a school and it looks a bit... tacky.

    Twitter and Facebook is an interesting corner... Facebook you can easily get updating with an RSS Feed so you can basically ignore it and it'll steal articles from the website, you might be able to do something similar to Twitter, but the character restriction etc could mean that you need to get a few people focused on updating twitter regularly with little bits of info, photos of the school at night, in the day, in the snow etc.

    Again though, it's probably a full time job. Our "website guy" also does most of the branding for the school and I believe, quite a bit of content management for Moodle (we still do the actual support of Moodle/Zilink)

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    I couldn't agree more with you but too many people are still unable to tell the difference between their employer's professional web page and that thing they personally knocked up in geocities back in the day, and think that the only thing that matters is getting eyeballs on your page.

    Sounds like your deputy is one of these. If they want to provide links to local businesses then does they really think people will use them instead of just googling like they do now?

    Have you tried using that .gov design page with them? Have you tried asking them to explain precisely what problem or query with/about your school that causes members of the public to visit your site in the first place will be solved by a link to greasy joe's chippy?
    Last edited by Roberto; 2nd December 2013 at 08:42 AM.

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    SovietRussia's Avatar
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    If you want a page like GOV.uk, I recommend using the Flatstrap project. Its a version of bootstrap, but styled down for flat and clean/modern looks. I personally use it on a lot of websites I build and users seem to love the fact that it fits with current design principles.

    Flatstrap by Littlesparkvt.com

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    Thanks for the replies

    Sounds like your deputy is one of these.
    yep - the dep likes big button pictures, twitter, apple products !


    I pointed them to the .gov page , though was wasting my breath , I can’t seem to get through to them what looks good to one person , looks awful to another it's a personal design preference so we should go with what has already been researched with a little more colour (.gov guide)

    and for keeping it up to date we just don't have the time , the school requires a full time wed designer/Publicity (officer/manger)

    but what the chances of that

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    Sounds like you need to go for comic sans with lots of pictures, moving images and multiple colours!

    It also sounds like your deputy thinks they know about website optimisation... you know the bit where having links to as many websites as possible boosts your google ranking?

    I don't know the age range of the students in your school, but links that you are pushing need to be age appropriate given that the students use your website too. Having facebook and twitter in your face at a primary may not be appropriate even if all these feeds do is push the PTA activities and tell parents that there is too much snow to open the school.

    Photos are fine as long as they are not so large that they take an age to download. Music/sound/noise playing automatically is not. Students should never be identified by their full names on the website and use of names, even just a forename, in conjunction with photos needs to be given careful consideration as there is a safeguarding issue.

    Personally, I would not link to local businesses as it looks like the school is backing them. If it turns out that all is not as it should be with the local business, you really don't want to be connected. Linking to the website of the church, a community group that hires the school hall, your uniform supplier, etc is better.

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    SovietRussia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sjpage10 View Post
    Thanks for the replies

    yep - the dep likes big button pictures, twitter, apple products !


    I pointed them to the .gov page , though was wasting my breath , I can’t seem to get through to them what looks good to one person , looks awful to another it's a personal design preference so we should go with what has already been researched with a little more colour (.gov guide)

    and for keeping it up to date we just don't have the time , the school requires a full time wed designer/Publicity (officer/manger)

    but what the chances of that
    You have to go with a design that fits the current design principles, that being at the moment: Flat, clean and modern with a nice font.

    But as @elsiegee40 said, the design also needs to reflect the age of your pupils

    Sounds like your deputy knows everything

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    I agree with what some are saying here, my previous job we was going down the route of pages for events, trips and any thing else we considered. When the information is there and parents are aware of it we did find our activity was going higher. Similar issue that has been mentioned though and that is time it takes to update it all, although the VLE we was using was quick to be updated and easy to pass certain sections over to other staff.

    I do think its a nice idea having as much as possible for parents to access, we have SLG here and parents constantly want to know their child's attendance, behaviour, homework and timetables. Although this is private information, they certainly are also interested in trips, news sections and events. We now have realsmart here and (again time) we plan on moving our main website over to that. Now that I have a fourth technician we will be able to update more on the website.

    At the end of the day if they want as much as possible displayed for parents and there isn't enough time for you to do it all you can do is present to them the work load levels and ask for the additional help. I recently had to put the case forward for the fourth person and I simply showed them the current work load. At the end of the day you done your part.

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    Oaktech's Avatar
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    We used to link to trusted suppliers, partly so we got a 10% discount on products from some of them - Our broadband provider (who is local), the uniform people, a local vehicle hire company who supply and look after our busses, you get the idea.

    We don't identify students at all unless it's a report from the media that we have used. (we have several students who represented the country at youth olympics, and a pair who have been onstage in the west end.)

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    one of the deputies wants twitter, Facebook, pupil photos (on main pages) and links to local shops and business (community liaison ) , and constant news/website updates though I’m not sure this is the way to go what’s your opinions


    Sounds exactly like our website, intentionally designed that way... and if done correctly can provide all that information in a sensible manner. S'all about community engagement. I have to disagree with a lot of views in this thread. You don't HAVE to go with "current design principles". That's just the latest trend. Design in the best way to present the content you want to present to the audience it needs presenting to. Not to any fads. If the current flat / minimalist approach achieves those goals, great. Use it. If it doesn't, then don't.

    Having automated news cross posting to Social Media is a waste of time. People can spot an automated post a mile off and don't engage with it. Hand crafted
    posted to social media result in far greater engagement / click-thrus.

    We have photo rotators of students on the main page. No names accompany them.

    We create pages for all trips and events - these pages are automatically created from our internal Exchange shared calendar entries for those trips and events, and then recompiled into a publicly subscribable webcal link on the front page so that parents and students can subscribe to these calendars with their mobile devices etc and receive alerts & notifications should they so desire (this listing also includes exam dates and times etc, specifically requested by our sixth form students).

    Trips, events and news items are shared automatically (via bufferapp.com so they can be slapped up in advance and scheduled to trickle out throughout the week), but the content is hand-crafted for each social media account.

    General news is added to the site as and when it's released (usually sent piecemeal thru to me, I redraft, and if needed then forward on to a freelance journalist friend of mine who rewrites and proofs and returns it for me to then post on the site).

    Yep, it becomes a full-time job, and that is your issue. You need to put the case forward that the school needs to hire a full-time Web Administrator to manage the site, social media accounts, etc. I maintain all our web services & the servers they run from, and design & administer the site and the majority of other marketing materials (prospectus etc) and graphic design work required by the school.

    Schools are businesses, and need to run as such... if a PR / Marketing dept is needed, one should be created. Schools are typically slow to catch on to this requirement... but are getting there gradually. IT Support are not Designers / PR / Marketing, and shouldn't be asked to ask as such. It's a separate role, with specific skills and responsibilities attached (and also a suitable wage).

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    School website have moved on a lot since the days of just information, they are now used as an active marketing tool. Our site is updated at least twice a week with news and feeds etc. We have found the best way is that the marketing / admin people write the content, ICT dept just place it online. Although the difference is that I have a background in websites etc.

    Take a look

    http://www.kingslynnacademy,co.uk

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    detjo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teklogic View Post
    @teklogic My FF browser shows the video on top of the drop-down menus, so you cant see the menus. Not sure if that's just me, or not!

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    hey, yer its a bug with the youtube insert I am using. It doesn't happen all the time and depends on browser and version. I really is a pain. Thanks for letting me know though.

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