The Bad News: Preschool Websites are often very yucky. Too often they are generic, out dated, incomplete and just all around yucky.
I’ve worked with a couple of preschools in my time. Based on my My best guess is that the sites are made by
- A parent of the preschool. Maybe out generosity, maybe out of kindness maybe as a barter agreement for tuition.
- A staff member who dabbles in technology. Often in these situations the staff who knows the most about computers are put in charge of the website.
- The lowest bidder.
So whats wrong with any of this? Isn’t it a win-win situation for the parent who wants to save money and the pre-school who doesn’t want to put any extra money out? Doesn’t it make sense to have the staff member make the site? I mean if they are tech savy then they can probably do a good job, right? What about the lowest bidder? I mean sure if properly managed a pre-school has potential to be pretty lucrative but business is all about cutting costs right? So why not take the guy with the lowest cost to build your website?
So here’s the deal. Even if the parent who is built your website is a professional (a big what if!) what happens to the site once that family is no longer at the school? Who is going to maintain your website? Probably no one. Does it need to be maintained? You better bet your version of Good Night Moon that it needs to be maintained and looked after. Things like accounts being hacked, servers needing to be rebooted, site stats and more!
Hence the fact that so many Pre School websites are out of date and look like they haven’t been updated in ages!
Of course there is always the exception but the truth is that you hire a preschool teacher to teach preschool, you hire a web developer to develop your website. These are two vastly different skill sets. Sure its tempting to try to save money but assuming that you are proud of your school, your staff, your curriculum, why wouldn’t you want to show your school in the best possible light? In order to best represent your school, find a professional.
Another option is to get some bids (which is a good thing) but then go with the lowest bidder. Now sometimes the lowest bidder is a good thing. You can save money and get the job done. Other times the job doesn’t exactly get done very well and needs to be redone. This turns the smallest bid into the most expensive!
My experience is that the lowest bidder will often do the least amount of work for you. While they may fulfill the job its rare to see any real gusto or desire to make your project they best they can! There are many reasons for this sometimes its a skill level, sometimes its inability and sometimes its just that they aren’t being paid very much so they don’t do much.
What I do see quite a bit with preschool sites is that no matter who makes the site is that it is so very, very generic. The sites don’t separate themselves very much from the competition. Often the content on the site talks about that the kids come first, that the school is child centered, etc. They use phrases like child development, academic curriculum, etc The thing is that it is rare to really learn much about the spirit of the school or what makes it tick.
What they don’t tell you is the nuts and bolts of the way the school works. They don’t tell you what the kids are saying, they don’t tell you whats for snack, they don’t show you the kids artwork and more. Instead they think that the website is just for attracting new business but instead they miss that the are building value for their existing clients.
Many parents are looking for areas to create dialog. It can be difficult to get your preschooler to discuss their day and so if the preschool can help foster dialog between the preschoolers and the parents then the preschool is creating a greater sense of value to the parents.
The preschool industry is the perfect industry for blogging. As a blog coach I look at the preschool from a parents perspective and asses what nervous parents would want to know from visiting a preschool website. I disseminate that information with my clients and assist them in determing what types of blog posts to write and what tone to write it in.
At the present I have two clients that are preschools (La Canada Preschool, & Children’s Center Preschool) Both are wonderful preschools with caring staff and a love for children. I encourage you to check them both out and see what they are doing on their blog and their school!