Launching a new website in September is tempting – a new academic year, a fresh start, and eager new pupils and parents. However, this seemingly ideal timing may pose unexpected challenges beneath the surface. In this latest blog, we'll look at the reasons why September might not be the best month for a school website launch and explore strategic alternatives.
3 reasons why September might not be the best month
Limited resources during the summer break
Launching a new school website often demands a complete content overhaul. However, August, the month preceding a September launch, is when educators and staff take a well-deserved break. Attempting content population during this period places immense pressure on the team. Even with year-round contract staff, juggling website tasks with preparing for the new academic year creates a time crunch. This can impede decision-makers' availability for website approvals, jeopardising a smooth pre-launch phase.
Disrupting consistency at an important time
As a new academic year commences, pupils, staff, and parents frequent the school website for essential information. Altering the design and navigation just days before the academic year may increase queries and confusion. Returning users expect consistency, especially when retrieving vital information like school schedules, term dates, and staff profiles. When clarity is crucial, introducing changes risks disrupting the familiarity essential for a smooth start.
The onset of a new school year brings a multitude of priorities, from new pupil orientations to addressing parent concerns and adapting to changes in schedules or staffing. Incorporating a website launch amidst these challenges minimises the impact and excitement that should accompany such a significant project. Celebrating the launch amidst the chaos might mean missing out on the recognition and engagement it deserves.
Other good times to launch a new school website
To maximise the impact of your school website launch, consider the following strategic timing alternatives:
October Half Term
By waiting until after the initial back-to-school rush, launching your website during the October half-term provides a breathing space. With open days already conducted, staff and pupils settled into routines, and potential content updates identified in September, this period allows for a smoother launch.
At the start of December
Launching your website in early December aligns with the festive season. It provides an opportunity to showcase the website during Christmas events, concerts, and fairs. Utilise end-of-year newsletters and social media posts to highlight the celebratory mood, ensuring your website gains attention during a joyous period.
At the start of January
Waiting until after the holidays to launch in early January allows for a fresh start without the pressure of the new academic year. With schools back in session, the launch can coincide with the renewed energy associated with the beginning of a new calendar year.
End of March/Beginning of April
Launching before the exam season in late March or early April gives parents and pupils time to navigate the new website structure. Emphasise the importance of a spring clean and capture new photographs for the homepage during this season of new beginnings.
Whenever is best for your school
Ultimately, the best time to launch your website depends on your school's unique calendar and milestones. It could align with founding anniversaries, new building openings, or internal celebrations. Ensure your website's launch receives the attention and credit it deserves.
Announcing the launch
Regardless of when you choose to launch, ensuring your community is aware of the changes is crucial. Consider the following strategies:
Promote on social media
Generate interest through social media with build-up posts, countdowns, and sneak previews leading up to the launch day. Utilise platforms to create anticipation and buzz among parents, pupils, and staff.
Announce in a school assembly
Plan a school assembly a day or so after the launch to unveil the new website to staff and pupils. This communal approach allows everyone to explore the new features together and ensures that the website has fully propagated.
Communicate with parents
Send out messages via parent engagement tools inviting parents to bookmark the new website and explore its features. Consider tying the launch to an event or open day, providing an opportunity to share additional information or new prospectus designs.
Organise a launch event
If there's a new brand or logo, consider inviting parents and carers for a special gathering to explain the changes over tea and cake. This personal touch can enhance community understanding and support.
Launching a school website is a significant undertaking that deserves careful planning. By strategically choosing the right time and employing effective communication strategies, you can ensure that your website launch becomes a celebrated event rather than a source of stress.
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