Why a CMS is the most important part of your school website
Most people have no idea what a CMS is until they get really annoyed by one. Luckily that doesn’t happen with our schools because we know how important the CMS is.
What is a CMS?
CMS stands for Content Management System. It is the ‘nuts and bolts’ behind the scenes of your school website in the area which gives YOU control over your content and navigation.
When you plan your school website you will, understandably, get all excited about colour schemes, photos and videos, and showcasing your amazing school in the best way possible with strikingly visual elements. This ‘customer facing’ view of the website is crucial, of course. In terms of the outward-facing design, most website companies can give you pretty much anything you want – at a price. Those prices may not be upfront, like ours are, but you should get a final price before you agree to the building of that website. This helps you to budget for the website build. Great. All done right?! Well…not quite…
When your website is built, whether that is on a shoestring budget or a premium cost, it can be very exciting and you will be keen to launch it to the school community and hear the inevitable gasps of delight. However, the real ongoing work comes when you want to make changes or add something new to your beautiful school website. This could be something as simple as adding your latest newsletter to the website, or could involve adding lots of photos from your latest World Book Day or other event.
Some companies insist that you send everything to them to add to the website. Every single little thing. From diary dates to a change of paragraph about the maths curriculum. Every name change on the “Staff” page through to every photo gallery you want to add. This can be problematic for a number of reasons:
- It adds more cost – each change, if done by an external team, means an additional cost or some sort of ongoing subscription or retainer for the website team.
- It takes time – instead of a teacher or member of admin simply adding what they want, they need to email everything to someone else…then wait…then maybe go back and forth confirming the layout and additions…then wait some more. And sometimes by the time the change is made the whole thing is out of date again! This is the nature of how fast things can change in school
- Emails going back and forth take up time and space – some emails full of photos are too large for many servers so then you may have to use a third party system to share those precious photos and documents with
- Most of the time such a process leads to no-one bothering to make changes at all and then your school website quickly starts ‘gathering dust’ in the cloud with outdated photos, old diary dates, and no useful recent information for prospective parents and students
If you are lucky enough to not have to send all your website changes to an external company or consultant you may have a CMS system to update your website with. Great news! But we know that not all CMS systems make it as easy as it should be to make updates. This can lead to frustrated staff who do not want to plan website updates into their time. If they cannot make changes quickly and efficiently they may get so fed up they stop doing much with it. This will discourage anyone in school from giving the designated person in school any updates…and the website starts to look old quickly.
Anything which makes your school website hard to update makes all that upfront budget spend seem even more costly down the line. In many cases we hear of schools moving companies due to ongoing high costs and lengthy change requests which drag on for weeks. Sometimes this involves having to go elsewhere for a whole new website at additional cost, and without a good CMS this cycle happens again about every 3 or 4 years.
Which is why the CMS is the most important part of your school website following the initial set up. It is the difference between a website which evolves and matures with you, and one that sits looking pretty for a while then soon becomes obsolete.
The Greenhouse CMS is well loved by our schools because it makes website updates easy, efficient and impactful. Admins can give page rights to different teachers and staff so that the load can be spread across multiple people – saving everything from resting on one person’s shoulders. Our excellent and easy-to-use CMS is one of the key reasons why we can keep our ongoing website annual fee so low – as we hand full control to you.
But you’re never on your own. Our friendly support team provide fanatical support and are always happy to help you with the CMS.
Get in touch to find out how we can help you to keep your website as fresh as a daisy – from first launch to 20 years later and beyond!