I spend a lot of time on websites, particularly school websites. I love some websites, they have a clean look, intuitive organization and I can find what I want quickly without interferance.
Others I avoid like the plague they are hard on the eyes, and the mind. I can never find what I want and all the pop up advertising and suggestions get in my way.
Today I was at the gym running on a treadmill – The TV was showing Your Business a MSNBC program and they were discussing web sites and the use of social networking in small businesses. Websites in this day and age are essential to any business both as a means of advertising and also as a means of contact. Likewise social networking is part advertising and customer service.
One of the commentators noted there are two main questions to ask about your website why and who.
Why do you want a website? Why communicate out side your organization? This leads to the follow up question what to communicate? But the question, who, is what caught my attention.
Who does the web site? Many places use IT specialist but he recommends an advertising or social media specialist.
IT (information, in schools instructional technology) specialists deal with information. They tend to create functional, information rich websites. – if your purpose is to convey lots of fact based information, these are the people to get your website set up. Advertising, social media specialist are a better choice if you are tying to sell a product and cultivate a positive image and supportive customer base. These individuals write well and update often to reinforce your mission and goal of promoting your product and supporting your customers.
How does this relate to schools? Schools have websites, their public face. Schools for the most part convey information about what is going on in the schools, events, curriculum, homework and parents and students can even follow student progress. But more and more schools, particularly K12 schools, are beginning to find they are competing for students and public support and are starting to think like public relation firms. They have Facebook and twitter accounts. Schools are cultivating a public image, and their web sites are changing to support the new mission of the school website. I wonder if this is translating to who manages and updates their public face?