Using modern free tools to develop your school website
In this new digital age your public facing website is undeniably the first point of contact for most people and is what a growing number of parents rely on when deciding whether or not to send their child to your school. Essentially, it is a reflection of your schools unique goals, overall message and thriving spirit. A visually stunning website filled with bright images, unique web parts and engaging content is more than likely to charm parents and spark interest.
Modern websites need to be viewable on a variety of devices from phones through to desktop computers. Information Services has established a service with one of Australia’s leading hosting companies (Net Virtue) that gives schools access to world class hosting with all of the free tools that come with modern websites. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and hundreds of applications and customisable plugins to ensure your website attracts the right sort of attention.
Although you will arrange your own developer, be that someone at school on staff or an external developer, Information Services will support the establishment of the site in our hosting environment for free*! We want to offer you a choice when it comes to your school website. You can continue using SharePoint 2010 if you’d like or instead give your website a makeover and have it re-published on a tool like WordPress!
Reasons you might want to take advantage of this solution:
- As much or as little functionality, themes, plugins as you want – all for free
- Visually stunning design – your website is guaranteed to be noticed
- Quicker and easier to set up and maintain
- Increased viewing compatibility across multiple devices e.g. smartphones, iPads and tablets
- Translates to greater reach – more eyeballs on your website (look up friendly)
- Increased SEO (search engine optimization) meaning your website will appear higher in searches completed in google etc. and will therefore be more visible/accessible.
- No support costs – Information Services is providing support with this transition via Lync (desktop share), email or phone
- Instant updates to the site anytime without additional costs
- Assistance in selecting the best plugins for your site
- Minimal maintenance required to keep the site up to date
- Simple to learn and use
- If you forget or lose logins, Information Services can issue a new one no problems
- New features not available through static websites or SharePoint sites 2010
- Health check of your site carried out by Information Services
Call to Action:
Don’t take our word for it. Take a look at http://edicationnt.net on a PC, Tablet and Smartphone to see how the information on the screen gracefully reshapes to fit on the screen.
Process to set up a school website with us
Below are the general starting points you will have if you want to work with us on your website…
- Transfer from SharePoint
- Transfer from existing kite server
- Transfer from another external host
- No current site for school
In any of the above cases if you interested in talking to us, contact SharePoint2010.firstname.lastname@example.org to work with Harley and Alan. Of course you can contact me, Mark.Christie@nt.gov.au as well for more information. Remember this solution is for schools wanting a public website. For internal intranets or corporate websites this solution will probably not be appropriate, but speak to us anyway as we have solutions to suit those requirements.
Setup and support
Although Information Services won’t do the website development for you, we will assist in providing the best advice on creating and maintaining your site along with a world class hosting environment that your staff or your developers/contractors can work in to create the best online web presence for your school. The actual creation of the site and application of the look and feel will carried out by either:
- Someone from your school – a Teacher, Staff member, Parent or even as a supervised student project – after all these are employability skills in a 21st century work environment.
- An external provider who specialised in this kind of web development – this option will of course cost money. We can suggest some local developers who may be able to help but the final choice rests with the school
Other services Information Services provides in relation to School Websites includes:
- domain name management – your school web address. This needs to point at the correct location where your website files live and the domain name registration needs to be paid every two years.
- Assistance with the migration of content from internal locations like SharePoint 2007 or 2010 to the new location or from the Kite Server to the new location that Information Services manages.
- Recommendations on which modules to include in your website packages – The hundreds of free and available tools means there is a choice and the Information Services team can help you choose the best module for your survey, bulletin board, membership or guestbook module and also outline any cautions in respect to safety and maintenance of these modules.
- Information Services can also provide a safety audit of your site to ensure that you are running the latest version and backups are being made.
- In the event of a website emergency – lost passwords, website being hacked or problems with a website contractor or the hosting provider itself, we can help.
Some schools have invested a lot of time in their original SharePoint 2007 sites or SharePoint 2010 sites. Some folks have even gone out and paid good money on websites to highlight the great things their schools are undertaking. Our motto is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – meaning that if you are happy with what you have, we are not going to force you to change.
Many of you are suffering from hide-and-seek-itis in regard to information on our websites, your websites and other websites beyond our collective control. I am preparing a presentation where I attempt to explain the urban sprawl of our website solutions and how change and improvement combines with past decisions to create the environment we are in today. This is part of a bigger challenge where we try to meet reporting and information requirements while offering a flexible, constructive and easily accessible online learning environment.
The main thing is that we are here to help. From retaining your current school website URL to migrating content to a new location or sourcing a web developer, we are here to help.
Fine Print… Just in case you didn’t read it above.
Each school is required to pay for their website URL which in the case of .nt.edu.au domains is directly oncharged from ESA
Development of the website is not undertaken by Information Services, but provisioning of a hosting site and access to manage the site is. During 2016 the hosting charges for this service will not be passed onto schools.