6 Reasons Your School Website Isn’t Engaging Parents
“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.” – Jane D. Hull, American educator and former politician
Every parent wants the best for their child. It’s a simple fact that these caring parents would do anything to give their child the best education they could provide. But it’s also important to understand that not all students get to reach their full potential because of barriers and obstacles they have no control over.
Each stakeholder – school administrators, teachers, and parents – must play a role in order to create a proactive school community with the aim of providing equal opportunities for students to succeed and overcome these barriers. Teachers often say that parents are the best resource they need to unlock the potential of each student. Schools have to provide the means to get them working together and communicating openly for the sake of the students.
Here is where technology can provide a solution. School websites, if done properly, could provide the opportunity for teachers and parents to communicate efficiently and even develop relationships that are crucial for a student’s development and growth.
However, not all school websites are successful in engaging parents and keeping them involved with their child’s education. If your school website is one of them, read on to learn the possible reasons why.
Poor Website Design
Is your website hard to read because of tiny fonts? Is it crammed with unorganized photos and text? Are the colors too loud and crazy? Maybe it’s time to reevaluate and redesign your website.
Parents who are visiting school websites expect a much more organized and well-designed minimal look that translates well to different screen sizes such as smartphones and tablets. Minimal does not have to mean monochromatic. Websites can be colorful but not to the point where it overwhelms its visitors. Chaotic websites are unpleasant to look at and parents would not even want to visit much less interact with it.
Incomplete or Obsolete Information
This is a common problem with websites in general. Incomplete information can turn anyone off a website. Some websites make it difficult to access basic information such as school curriculum and schedules.
Furthermore, students don’t always talk to their parents and update them about school activities or forms they need to sign. Parents need access to updated school calendars so they can be prepared for bake sales, field trips, or even volunteer for PTA fundraising events.
An updated school gallery featuring recent activities can also motivate parents to participate. Seeing their kids or themselves taking part in previous school activities can encourage future involvement and engagement as well.
Schools, in general, are large institutions and students can number in the thousands. How can a school website possibly accommodate the various needs of its community members? A custom experience is important in encouraging engagement and participation. A school can have the best aesthetically designed website, but will still fail if it neglects user experience.
Busy parents need only the information that involves their children or their class. They need a custom filter to make website interactions fast and simple.
Successful school websites provide that custom functionality by having a webpage dedicated to each class. Through this feature, parents will be aware if their child has pending homework or projects. As such, they can better monitor their child’s progress by knowing what is expected of them.
Non-Intuitive Site Navigation
User experience is very important in website design. When user design works, navigation is easy and intuitive. However when navigation fails, the user is left confused and frustrated.
Poor school website navigation begins with non-standard styles. Users, including parents, have become familiar with how typical websites look and function. As such, experimenting with navigation locations is not recommended.
Next, get rid of generic menu labels. Be brief but descriptive with labeling your categories or menu to help users reach the information they need quickly.
Finally, organize your menus and categories logically and do not crowd the list. Help parents and visitors navigate your site with thoughtfully ordered categories they can easily understand and figure out.
Lack of Notification Features
In schools today, school notification systems are critical not just for emergencies but also in everyday interactions. If your school website still does not have one, you might want to consider getting a system set up as this feature is essential for engaging hard-to-reach and busy parents.
School notification systems can remind parents of upcoming school activities and PTA meetings they could be forgetting. Sometimes parents just need a little reminder to increase their engagement and participation.
Unresponsive Web Design
Every website, including school websites, has to be mobile friendly. Now that virtually everyone uses a smartphone or tablet for browsing the web, it is no longer optional to have a mobile-friendly website.
Responsive design refers to how the website design’s integrity remains intact regardless of the changing screen size. The website’s elements should conform to the varying screen sizes, meaning text is still readable and images are not distorted.
These days, busy parents are more likely to interact with the school website on their smartphones or tablets, therefore school sites should be mobile-ready.
As Jane D. Hull said, the one essential key to a child’s success is parental involvement. Studies have shown, time and time again, how the parent’s involvement in their children’s education can bridge gaps caused by poverty and crime. School communities have to support parents with smart solutions, beginning with an engaging and interactive school website.