So why should you use WordPress for school websites? It’s a fair question. There are other content management system (CMS) options out there, but none quite as ubiquitous. In fact, roughly 40 percent of all websites – according to multiple sources – are powered by WordPress.
And that’s by no accident. This CMS provides ease-of-use, allows you to run multiple websites from one dashboard, and is customizable. But there are so many other reasons to make this your CMS of choice as well. Read our top 10 in the blog post below.
As we mentioned, WordPress is the most predominant CMS on the market today. No other platform comes close to matching the number of websites powered by it. And it’s held these large margins for years with no decline in sight. So, it’s obvious WordPress is doing something right.
For example, WordPress constantly improves the user and editor experience on a regular basis and provides updates that make it work more seamlessly. On top of that, websites created using WordPress are more Google friendly since the CMS follows best practices and is considered the premiere CMS on the web today. Who doesn’t want their school website to be in Google’s good graces?
And it’s been around a while! WordPress is just about 18 years old and continues to be a trusted name throughout the web development industry while other CMS platforms come and go. Lastly, there is plenty of support. WordPress offers its own services, but there are plenty of third-party developers out there that live and breathe WordPress – not surprising considering the enormous web presence this CMS possesses.
If it isn’t already, your school website should be accessible to all users (students, parents, staff and community members) who visit and attempt to consume your content. Not only because it’s good for you and your users, but also because it is a best practice in web development and can potentially prevent possible lawsuits against you.
For instance, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) updated its guidelines in 2017 to include mandated school website accessibility standards. Users who rely on accessible websites include those who are visually impaired, colorblind, English language learners, those with limited motor control, the elderly, deaf individuals, and those with learning disabilities such as dyslexia.
As the leading CMS on the web today, WordPress makes accessibility simple. In fact, there are WordPress plugins (more on this below) that identify potential accessibility issues before the website or web pages are published – not after. Additionally, these plugins provide information on how to properly fix these accessibility issues so it’s not a guessing game.
So, speaking of plugins— what are they exactly? In short, plugins are additional software that provide extended functionalities to your website that you wouldn’t otherwise have out-of-the-box. They are easy to install, are available through WordPress or third parties and can be easily updated when new versions are available.
Would you like to filter out inappropriate words from your discussion boards or comments section? There is a Banned Words plugin for that. How about some assistance in optimizing your website for Google Search? The Simple SEO plugin is a quick and easy tool for building a solid foundation for an SEO-friendly website. How about an integrated calendar on your school website that lets your audience know about upcoming events? You guessed it.
There are more than 50,000 WordPress plugins in total. And if you need something for your website, there is probably a plugin that will provide it for you.
One of the most important considerations when developing your WordPress online presence is the “look and feel” of the design. Quite often, “themes” are chosen for school websites to match a certain aesthetic that is trying to be achieved. Themes can be installed easily and come with preset layouts, fonts, colors, formatting, and other design elements.
Found a theme you like but would like to make some alterations? WordPress beginners can easily make basic changes to fit the look that your school is trying to achieve. Themes are particularly important for K-12 schools that want a website that reflects their values, academic rigor, school colors, community, and other attributes.
Themes are also important if schools are trying to engage a certain age demographic. Think elementary vs. high school – two different age groups where the design may resonate differently.
Maybe one of the most important WordPress features is that it’s totally customizable. That’s right. You can make your school website look exactly the way you want it. Like we mentioned, themes are available and easy to install and use. And even themes can be customized to meet your website needs.
But if you are looking for something completely unique and require additional functionality and design elements not available in themes, then a developer or third-party company can create the exact website you are looking for through custom coding and design. It’s kind of like creating your own theme.
This may cost extra if you don’t have an in-house development team. But just remember that a school website reflects the school itself. What do you want your website to say about your school?
Ease of Use
Using and updating your WordPress school website is easy once it is designed and ready for content insertion. Are you a social media user or do you frequently copy and paste text and photos into a Word document? It’s pretty much the same exercise once you learn where the pages and content areas are located within WordPress.
Additionally, text formatting is simple and practically mirrors the Word experience. You can bold, italicize, change the size, and format the copy the way you want through the text editing functionality.
Lastly, WordPress accepts a variety of media types including jpg, gif, png, doc, xls, ppt, pdf, wav, mp3 and mp4, to name a few. Some other file formats may not be accepted by WordPress by default. But by using (you guessed it) a plugin, you can instruct WordPress to allow additional media types.
Blogs, ePortfolios, Websites and more!
Is WordPress a blogging platform? Is it for websites? Can you use it for student ePortfolios? A calendar? Discussion boards? Simply put – YES! It is the answer to all your online presence needs – another reason why WordPress is the CMS of choice for so many school websites.
Teachers, staff, and students can use it to update academic, event, athletic and general information regarding your school. They can also use WordPress for blogging, whether it’s for public facing information or in-class only assignment projects. Plugins make event dissemination simple and allow for integration with your Google calendar.
And teachers can help students with future endeavors by creating ePortfolios that showcase their work, thoughts, assignments and ideas. Lastly, if you have any other website information/content needs, WordPress most likely can provide a solution (hooray for plugins!).
It’s quite possible that you need more than just one school website. In other words, your school may need hundreds and possibly thousands of separate websites (think academics, about us, library, athletics, school news, events, clubs) that are updated and operated by numerous staff members, students, and potential community members.
Creating and updating separate websites for each – possibly on different CMS platforms with different themes and designs – would quickly turn into a logistical disaster. Luckily, WordPress Multisite allows you to manage a large network of school websites with a single installation and from a single dashboard.
And whether you have one or 100 users, each website can receive the same updates, security enhancements and aesthetic changes simultaneously.
As mentioned above, your school may literally require hundreds if not thousands of websites. That is a lot of information that needs to be created, curated, edited and eventually uploaded. So, for the sake of accuracy, grammar, approval processes and security, WordPress allows you to assign a variety of access levels to those who update your school websites.
These access levels include super administrator, administrator, editor, author, contributor, and subscriber. Each role has different permission settings that enable or restrict them from certain tasks. For example, super administrators can pretty much do anything with your website. Whereas a contributor can write and upload content but can’t publish it. But an administrator can publish the contributor’s post or page once it has been reviewed and is ready to go live.
There are six levels in all (super administrator, administrator, author, contributor and subscriber), all with different access that determine their role within the website network ecology.
WordPress is built with security in mind. Whether you work with an in-house team or a third party, you can make your school websites highly secure by following some recommended protocols. For example, security measures that can be taken include:
- Nightly Security Scans – Check all plugins and themes for any known vulnerabilities.
- Code Review – Check all plugins/themes for best practices to minimize potential exploits.
- SSO /Authentication – Configure all major methods of authenticating users, including 2FA.
- Audit Logging – Detailed logs of user actions that are kept for 30 days.
- Security Patches – Any known vulnerability will be patched in less than 24 hours.
- Firewalls – Implement brute force and DDoS protection, with all traffic monitored.
- Backups – Ensure encrypted backups are taken nightly.
At CampusPress, we’re experts in bringing innovative web solutions to schools, school districts, colleges, and universities through WordPress and our wide range of out-of-the-box and custom plugins and products.
In fact, our services in accessibility, security, hosting, support, along with an extensive suite of other tools, power millions of education websites, blog networks and portfolios. Learn more about our school website services or request info today!