We're looking at getting our website totally redesigned from the ground up and we're looking at a few companies to work with.
What we don't want is a website that follows the same design/template as a large number of schools out there. We're looking for something a bit special, and we want to incorporate video/audio etc into the design.
What we're after is a company to work with us, carrying out the various research and initial concept development meetings and then designing us a site together with all SEO/Artwork/photography/copywriting etc. Finally the finished product has got to have an easy to use CMS that we can allow staff members access to. We're also looking at companies that don't tie us into propriety CMS systems or their hosting. We'd much rather have flexability to move etc without having to get the whole site redesigned from scratch!
So the question is - does anyone have any recommendations?
I've done work with E4 Education - they seem pretty good and will do things to suit what you want rather then fit what you want into what they offer.
I echo what glennda has said. We've recently started to work with e4 and everything has been positive so far. They've never complained at the amount of tweaks I've had them do, and I'm quite fussy!
So you would prefer to have a design based on an existing CMS so you are not tied down to a proprietary CMS, and you want them to build a template and make use of available plug-ins (again, to prevent tie-in with a plug-in only they provide), with you being able to determine the hosting, etc?
A couple of caveats on this ... bespoke design work is fine on most CMS (Joomla, WordPress, Sharepoint, etc) but you can hit issues when large updates / versions are changed. You might have to write into the agreement that you require support to cover x number of years and for it to cover any changes required due to *any* update / patch of *any* part of the CMS, agreed plug-ins, changes to law (this has been handy for some places to get sites updated to cover the cookie law and at no extra cost) and so on.
Are you looking at a design house with a lot of education experience or simply a good design house?
Any preference on CMS?
How much tie-in is needed with the in-house systems (SSO, access to files, etc)?
Oh, one thing to point out is e4 use their own CMS but I asked and got told they'll give you the plain HTML site files etc so if you wish you could in the future take the design elsewhere and integrate another CMS. Their CMS though is pretty extensive and the yearly fee isn't bad for hosting/CMS use etc.
With regards to the upgrade issue we're perfectly willing to pay a yearly support/update fee to ensure that issues around new versions are handled. A few of us here have had bad experiences with being tied into proprietary CMS systems and moving away being very expensive. At least with an existing CMS the thinking is that we can up sticks and move to another provider to support us if needed.
We can help but don't want to flout the rules of this site. We have created quite a few education and on-line training sites. As previous contributors state there are quite a few CMS systems but the majority of government and Education departments use DRUPAL which is the most powerful of all and lends itself to bespoke programming very well. UKAS, British Council, BBC & The Whitehouse all use DRUPAL or a version based on it.
If you would like some help, please just ask as we are always happy to assist anyone with getting the right site for their needs.
speckytecky (18th June 2012)
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