What have we learned from conducting hundreds and hundreds of website audits over the years? That everyone is trying to get their website right, that doing so is never easy, and it’s nearly impossible to get a perfect score. Let’s start with how we got here in the first place.
Most of us spend the first 20 years of our lives being graded, and then suddenly, there’s no grading at all. And yet we crave to know something fundamental about our work: is it any good? And, better yet: what should I be doing better? Here are a handful of things that seem to be recurring themes in school website audits:
1. Find yourself
Search for your school on Google. Put your prospective parent hat on, come up with some normal-sounding things a typical prospective parent might search for and see what happens.
2. Dig deeper
Okay, so you found yourself. Now what? Did you get your question answered? Was it easy to find? If you answered “no” to any of those questions, time to beef things up.
3. Responsive/not responsive
If your site isn’t responsive, please stop reading this and call us!
4. The phone is what is glued to your hand
Pretend you’re a parent again and shop around at your school from your phone. How’s the experience? Maybe the website is ‘responsive’, but is it ‘mobile friendly’?
5. People don’t need to get to the third tier from the homepage
Sometimes, we see this in the navigation: you roll your mouse over About, see History and, another arrow! So you scroll down to History, and a new menu pops out for Archives. Asking a user to scroll down and then over just isn’t very easy.
6. Social media can look pretty lame
Any good CMS allows you to drop in a Twitter or Facebook feed, but a basic, unstyled list of tweets dropped on a page just doesn’t work. (That’s why we developed the well-designed Finalsite Feeds!)
7. Which one of these is not like the other?
Can you distinguish the ‘main navigation’ from the ‘utility navigation’ or the ‘constituent navigation’ on your site? If these sections aren’t distinctly separated visually or in any sort of hierarchy then group things accordingly and start over.
Am I normal?
By virtue of the fact that you have read (or skimmed) this, you are! And if the website is just ‘a small part of your job’, I empathise. It’s a lot. The good news: no one else has it perfect either. Keep it up!
Angelo is Finalsite’s Chief Innovation Officer. He graduated valedictorian from St. Paul’s School in Baltimore, MD and from Princeton University with a degree in creative writing and English Literature. Just after graduating, he started Silverpoint, and grew it to over 300 schools worldwide before merging with Finalsite in 2013.
For further info, please visit: finalsite.co.uk