Why Use Your School Website for Admissions?
Your website is the first thing many prospective families will visit to learn about your school—so it’s an important opportunity to make a good, specific first impression. Having admissions information on your school website lets families learn about your school anytime, anywhere. You can share videos about your school, ways to get in touch, and details about upcoming virtual or in-person events. If you’ve shared your website with the admissions teams (see the second Action Item below), we will also include it on your MySchools page so that families will be directed to your website while looking through school options.
- Devote a specific page on your website to resources for prospective families. We suggest including:
- A schedule of any admissions events you’ll be hosting, along with links to any live or recorded events
- Videos and/or other media
- Contact information for families who want to speak with or email school staff directly
- An email subscription form so you can easily keep in touch with families
- Links to your school’s social media profiles
**Don’t have a school website? Looking to make changes to your existing site?**
Reach out to your Borough’s Instructional Tech Director so you can make plans to work together or find out what classes they are offering on creating and maintaining school websites. Find your Tech Director here.
Here are some best practices to keep in mind as you create or improve your website:
- Remember your goal! Your website is a primary tool to help recruit students, so create and organize content with that audience in mind.
- Make it easy to navigate.
- Make your site mobile-friendly first. Well over half of all web visits are from a mobile device, and many people only access the web through smart phones.
- Remember what your prospective families care about, and tell stories that show how you meet their needs.
- Use visuals that enhance and do not distract from the content.
- Show your school building and community to create an emotional connection with visitors to your website.
- Include an alt-text description for all images.
- Make sure you have everyone, ESPECIALLY students (if they are over 18) or their parents/guardians sign a Media Release form (sign in to InfoHub using your DOE credentials) agreeing to have their images shared.
- Write at a grade 6–9 reading level and follow plain language guidelines.
- Use headings, subheadings, and bulleted lists to break up text so the page is easier for families to read.
- Be realistic about how often you can update your content, and create a content strategy that aligns with your resources. It’s better to have evergreen content than outdated content on your site.
- Be sure that your site is accessible for people using screen readers. As of 2020, DOE is required by law to make all websites accessible—and it’s the right thing to do! DIIT has many resources to help with this.
- Provide translated content, or access to an in-browser translations tool like Google Translate. For more on this, check out the How To Serve Multilingual Families section of the toolkit.
Learn more on the DOE InfoHub’s School Website Guidelines page.
Think About Your Audience
Remember to check in with your website users to get their feedback on features or tools that they would find useful.
Action Item: Conduct a Stakeholder Feedback Session
- Invite your SLT, PA/PTA, lead teachers, and other key members of your community to discuss your school’s website content.
- Use post-it notes and work together to write the content needed. Write one idea on each post-it note!
- Group content by category. You can make groups based on users (staff, parents, students, and partners) or topics (schedules, classes, staff, extracurricular activities, parent supports, PTA and events, etc.).
- Prioritize your results and figure out which content/ideas you will use going forward.
- Visit the NYC Civic Service Design Tools and Tactics page to learn more about designing to meet user needs.
To get help developing or changing your school’s website, you can:
- Reach out to your Borough’s Instructional Tech Director to work together or find out what classes they are offering on creating and maintaining school websites. Find your Tech Director here.
- Attend digital accessibility trainings offered by the Division of Instructional and Information Technology (DIIT). Find the schedule here.
- Learn about other ways DIIT provides technical support at schools.nyc.gov/Tech.