Donovan Group Insights

Your District Website is an Invaluable Asset

When someone needs answers, they often take to the internet. A quick online search pulls up thousands of webpages with the information they’re looking for. The same rings true for your stakeholders. When a stakeholder needs something, one of the first places they’ll turn to is your district’s website.

Stakeholders put a lot of stock in the quality of a district’s website. Investing in a well-crafted website can draw in prospective families and strengthen your district’s online presence. It can also establish your district’s brand, support its purpose and win stakeholder approval. Now more than ever, district websites are a must.

A website can support your district’s purpose

A website can be a very useful tool for executing your district’s purpose. As a school district, you want to help students succeed, create learning opportunities and strengthen the community, among many other purposes. To make this happen, your district needs a resource that turns ambitions into actions. A website is that resource. Through your district’s website, you can promote events, provide academic support and connect students with enriching activities outside of the classroom.

Your district exists to give children a good education. Public education means equal learning opportunities for all, regardless of who they are or where they come from. A website can support your dedication to equity in the classroom. You could create a webpage that tells students and their parents about available tutoring services. Another webpage could explain how low-income households can acquire school supplies and reading materials for their children. Create resources on your district’s website that meet students’ diverse needs.

You could also use the website to promote events that bring the community together. District websites typically have an events page that lists upcoming games, fundraisers, board meetings and open house nights. These events should be easy to find on your district’s website so you can generate interest and boost the attendance rate. Your district’s website can help stakeholders feel included and make them aware of events they otherwise would’ve never heard about.

Your district’s website is owned media

You should leverage your district’s website to its fullest potential because the website is considered a piece of “owned” media. Owned media is a channel of communication that your district can control. You have the power to use it however you want. You get to choose what information does or does not go on the website. And, you get to decide how stakeholders receive that information.

It’s important to leverage owned media whenever you can. When you think about it, most of the media out there doesn’t belong to your district. Whether in person or online, stakeholders are voicing their own opinions about the district. Local media outlets are releasing news stories with their own take on recent district events. You can’t control what other people are saying, so instead, focus on what you can control, which is your district’s website and other forms of owned media.

Owned media gives you an opportunity to shape how stakeholders perceive your district. You can use the website to drive home key messages and develop the district’s brand. You’re in complete control of the content that goes on your district’s website. Create content that reinforces the shining image you want stakeholders to see.

Owned media can benefit your district in many ways. When something happens in your district, be the first to talk about it by posting an announcement on the website. Establish the ideal brand image through photos, videos, blog posts and other forms of content. Share what stakeholders should really know about your district in an effort to gain their trust and support.

Websites establish your online presence

Stakeholders are spending more time than ever online. Your district’s website is a digital medium that can help you connect with stakeholders. Many will turn to your district’s website to find what they’re looking for. It might be a teacher’s contact information or the date of their school’s next football game. When stakeholders have questions, your district’s website needs to provide the answers.

In today’s increasingly digital world, a website is essential for establishing your district’s credibility. People are hesitant to trust any business or institution that doesn’t have a website. But you don’t just need a website—you have to update it on a regular basis, too. Districts that regularly update their websites are perceived as reliable sources of information. Stakeholders will visit your website for the latest news, which shows they’re willing to trust you over the media outside of your district.

Your district’s website doesn’t exist solely for current stakeholders. It can put your district on the map for prospective students and their families. As their children get older, parents will start looking for places to send them to school. When they search for districts online, your website should come up in the search results. In the eyes of prospective stakeholders, if a district doesn’t have a website, it doesn’t exist. Your district’s website is the first touchpoint for many families, so make sure it leaves a positive, lasting impression.

Stakeholders turn to websites for information

Your district’s website should be the number one resource for stakeholders. Email and social media are great for quick updates, but everything else stakeholders need should live on the website. A well-constructed website can make school resources readily accessible all in one place. Whatever they’re looking for, stakeholders should feel confident they can find it on your district’s website.

It’s worth noting that some websites are more effective than others. A website is of little use if stakeholders have a hard time navigating it. Learn how stakeholders search for things, and design a website layout that has a natural flow to it. Navigation menus should be easy to follow. The most important information should sit near the top of each webpage. An effective website gets stakeholders where they need to go with as few clicks as possible.

Current stakeholders use your district’s website for a variety of reasons. Putting certain tools in place can give stakeholders the information they need. For instance, a blog allows you to share exciting news and events with students’ family members. There should be webpages where people can buy tickets or sign up their children for athletics. Important links should also be highly visible, such as links to the staff directory, events calendar, student portal and class registration.

Even prospective stakeholders use your district’s website. Let’s say a family has decided to enroll their child at one of your schools. They should easily be able to find a webpage that walks them through the enrollment process. Prospective families might also check your district’s website for accolades and credentials. Create a webpage that displays recent district awards and bios for members of the school board.

Stakeholders expect their school district to have a website. Simply having one can be enough to win their trust and boost your district’s credibility. Having an effective website is even better. Determine what your stakeholders need, and provide the necessary resources through your district’s website. An up-to-date website with reliable information is a win for both stakeholders and your district.

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