Your new school website has been designed and built, your content has been added and you’re now starting to think about launching it to the world.
But, before you start the process of putting your website live, have you completed these 7 key ‘go live’ checks and considered the best time to go live?
1. Is your content complete and easy to find?
A new website design is nothing without the text and images that accompany it. Make sure each page has content on prior to launch and move any unfinished pages into a ‘hidden area’ of the website to be pulled out later.
Your news area should feature recent articles, and your calendar should be populated with upcoming events. These feeds often pull through to the homepage and can make your website look incomplete if they are empty or out of date.
Finally, don’t forget to check the DfE website requirements checklist to make sure you have included all the compulsory information regarding policies, governance, curriculum etc.
With the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, your users now have the right to know exactly what is happening to any of their data you collect and how it’s being used.
Your site will need to have a cookie pop-up or banner which asks users if they want to accept or deny cookies when they visit your website for the first time.
3. Have you assigned a Data Protection Officer for your new website?
Your school website is an outward facing communication tool for your school so it’s vital that you know who can access your website content management system and any data that may be stored within.
The website Data Protection Officer (DPO) role should be assigned to a frequent website administrator who can be responsible for monitoring user accounts and removing users who are no longer at your school.
4. Have you optimised your website for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?
Once your new school website is live, you’ll want people to be able to find your site quickly and easily when typing your school's name into a search engine, like Google.
To help your search engine optimisation (SEO), make sure you have added friendly URLs to your key pages, included a meta-description for each page, explaining the content that is on it and have used keywords within your content for your key search terms.
You can find out more about how to optimise your website in our free school website SEO best practice guide.
5. Do you have any URLs which need redirecting?
If your old website uses different friendly URLs, or a different domain entirely, you will need to implement 301 redirects to send traffic through to the new location.
Essentially, it’s like mail forwarding when you move house; a redirect ensures that any visitors who visit an old URL get automatically sent to the new one, so that they can access the content they require.
The easiest way to do this for friendly URLs is by creating a spreadsheet that shows the old URL in one column and the new one in a column next to it. This can then be sent to your website provider for implementation. If it’s just a domain redirect you require, then you can let your website provider know and they can give you the details you need to redirect the old domain to the new one.
Implementing redirects reduces the likelihood of 404 errors (page not found) and can help with SEO. More information on 301 redirects can be found on page 15 of our SEO best practice guide.
6. Have you notified your school website provider(s)?
Once you are ready to launch your new website, you will need to let your school website provider know that you’re looking to ‘go live’. Ideally you should give them 3 – 5 days' notice so that they can do final checks, send you your DNS instructions and get everything together to help you achieve a successful launch.
If you are not staying with your existing provider, you will also need to give them notice of your intention to leave. You should check your existing terms and conditions carefully as some providers may want 30 or 60 days' notice for a termination of contract. Depending on how they work, they may also take your website down once they hear you are leaving – so make sure you are aware of the next steps when leaving a provider.
Here at e4education, we hope you’ll never want to leave but if you do make this decision then we’re here to help your transition be as smooth as possible. We ask for 30 days’ written notice but we’ll keep supporting you until you ask us to make DNS changes to move to your new provider.
7. Have you planned your celebrations?
Once your website has launched, it’s time to tell the world about your new investment!
Social media is a great way to get the word out and share your new designs with your community. Make sure you tag your new provider in any posts you make as it’ll allow them to celebrate with you (and share your website to a wider audience)!
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you celebrate the culmination of your project and the hard work you’ve put into making your school website the best it can be!
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