Has anyone ever worked with 'schoolwebsite.co.uk'?
Our bursar had what I can only assume is a speculative phone call from SchoolWebsite .co.uk earlier on this term and has been caught by there sales blurb and promises of the most wonderous website things you could possibly imagine...
This bothers me, as our current website was developed personally by me over about 6 months a few years ago. I know that, three and a half years after it originally launched, it's a bit long in the tooth and rough around the edges -it's had bits bolted on and ripped off quite a few times. I have every intention of rebuilding from scratch before the end of this academic year - something SMT are aware of (I've spoken to some SMT staff about it, and it is one of my targets in my recent annual appraisal). I can produce a new website with all the bells and whistles SchoolWebsite are flouting (CMS, Podcasts, News feeds, blogs etc.). I have the knowledge and skills to make an accessible and usable website and I understand SEO. Knowledge and skills I implemented in the site I made for them 4 years ago.
The bursar, however, has gone ahead and set up a meeting with SchoolWebsite .co.uk in January and is obviously considering paying them their £5000 fee to rebuild our site.
Has anybody worked with them before? Do you have a website they made? What are the company like? Are they reliable? Are changes accommodated easily and quickly?
I'm just trying to guage what I'm up against. The school's website is the only thing I have any pride in within my job and I'll be very angry if it is taken away from me. Especially so if SMT don't actually tell me what they think is wrong with our current site, let me know what they want from it or give me a fair chance to prove I can do just as good a job as an external company can...
(Apologies for the slightly ranty tone of this post. This (among other issues) has really got my back up. If decent jobs weren't so rare, I'd be leaving.)
Last edited by ZeroHour; 28th January 2011 at 03:01 PM.
I would say one thing that should be taken into account is they look to just be web design and SEO. Most schools want or need to have interactive material, VLEs and access to MIS data. There are many good companies out there that for a similar amount can deliver a lot more than they look to.
Not had 'the pleasure' of working with them, but they sound similar to a firm who once came in and took a client (old employer) from me. I had build a site whilst I was working for this organisation, and I was in the middle of developing a new one when I decided to take the plunge of going freelance full time (just before the recession hit, so it didn't work out too well hence being back in IT for the time being but that's another story). Anyway, it all started off rather nicely, we had agreed quite a discounted rate for them given what they were getting and then someone (I seem to believe related to their new business development manager in some way .. funny that) came along and promised the earth for about £5k again, so they ditched me from the website with the promise of this new site that would be developed and could they be franchised off to their centres through the UK, etc, etc (something I'd put forward as well).
Anyway, 12 months after they'd ditched me from it, I contacted them to ask if all was ok with the site as it had stopped working (I was keeping an eye on it out of interest). It then started working, but there were broken links left right and centre, and missing images etc. All in all, a shoddy job. I then found out, as I was still quite good friends with the Directors PA, that the company had failed to deliver to several deadlines and had been sacked, so I offered my skills again, at the same rate as before to show willing, but again they went with another firm. This other firm has been developing the site for about 2 years now, and it's still not finished, and they have even managed to delete several other sites that were hosted on the same server as they moved the main site to their server and told the company they didn't need the hosting for the other site anymore, but failed to let them know that there were other sites hosted (or probably didn't check in the first place) but they still have links to these now extinct sites on the new site, which I keep pointing out and putting my nose back in to see if they want to take me up on my offer again (though the price has increased slightly now, but is still discounted).
It always makes me laugh that schools (and indeed companies) see more value in something they have paid money above that they can get free from the internal skills. For instance, I developed (over a period of about 3 months) several different websites for the school and ran sessions to explain the different ones, but the school have plumbed for the county CMS in the end, something they've had to pay for (ok only £100 but still) and something that is, in my opinion, quite limited. eg, they wanted a new calendar adding to the site for putting up events etc, County said "sure, but that will be an extra £150-£200 to do" .. so I set up a Google Account for the school and have embedded a Google Calendar instead.
All fun. Anyway, back to topic, someone coming in saying £5000 for an all singing all dancing site always makes me laugh. Someone saying 'we can offer you a new school site and would love the chance to discuss this with you' is more reasonable then you can find out what the school wants and work from that. I mean, FROG is around £5k, but look at all the stuff you get with it (all the VLE stuff etc). That, I would say, is worth the money, but for a simple website?