Questions to survey your users before designing your next school website

When building that next great website for your school district, there are so many considerations that go into making it effective. Fresh content, easy navigation, mobile usability, ADA website accessibility, and more. But before you address any of these, gain a full understanding by conducting a survey of your users.

Avoid the pitfalls that many districts fall victim to of “slapping a new skin” on the same old content. A new website and/or a new website provider is a golden opportunity to learn what your users expect, and it all starts with a school website user and stakeholder survey.

You can download a Website User and Stakeholder Survey Guide here, but I’m taking this article to highlight some of the big takeaways to begin considering before you jump headfirst into your school’s next website.

This article and subsequent guide are designed to help you gain a better understanding of the website user communications needs of your school community. Knowing how, when, where and why your visitors use your website can yield useful discoveries that can help you in planning your next website. Your website team can use this survey to gain insights and confirm priorities you’ve made about the direction of your new website.

Know who all your school website stakeholders are

While parents are obvious key stakeholders in your school website, there are other key user groups that need to be included in your survey. Staff – both faculty and non-faculty, students, extracurricular groups, athletics, board of education and key community partners should all be included in your survey sample.

Your survey should be distributed to your target audiences and the users themselves who will be managing the content. Survey as many as possible to get the broadest and largest sample. In addition to conducting this survey, consider other forums, such as focus groups and informal meetings to gain insights and buy-in.

If rule no. 1 of any communications challenge is identifying who you’re trying to reach, rule no. 1a ought to be fully understanding who it is you’re trying to reach. Asking the right people helps. Be sure to include all of the following groups:

  • Parents
  • Students
  • Faculty
  • School staff (including IT staff, and key content contributors)
  • Extracurricular groups
  • Athletics
  • Board of education
  • Community supporters

Ask the right questions

Once you’ve determined who you’re surveying, now comes what to ask.

You may be doing an excellent job of informing your users; you may need to work on it. Gain this understanding to know where you stand and then measure the improvements you make going forward.

Website Planning Survey Questions

NOTE: Some questions and answer choices may need to be modified based on your current website, your school’s unique circumstances and other factors.

  1. How often do you visit the district website? (select one)
    ❏ More than once a day
    ❏ Daily
    ❏ 2-­3 days per week
    ❏ Weekly
    ❏ Occasionally
    ❏ Never
  1. How often do you visit the school websites? (select one)
    ❏ More than once a day
    ❏ Daily
    ❏ 2­3 days per week
    ❏ Weekly
    ❏ Occasionally
    ❏ Never
  1. When visiting the district/school website, what info are you seeking? (select all that apply)
    ❏ Assignments/homework
    ❏ School resources
    ❏ District/school news
    ❏ Student Information System (e.g. Powerschool, eSchoolPlus)
    ❏ PTA
    ❏ School notifications (delays, closings, etc.)
    ❏ Staff directory
    ❏ Lunch menu
    ❏ Calendar
    ❏ BOE budget and policies
    ❏ BOE agenda and meeting notes
    ❏ Athletics info/schedule
    ❏ Non­athletics extracurriculars
    ❏ Other (please specify)
  1. From which sources do you receive most school information? (select one)
    ❏ District/school website
    ❏ Email/school e­newsletters
    ❏ Teachers/staff
    ❏ Word of mouth
    ❏ Teacher/classroom website
    ❏ Social media
    ❏ Telephone
    ❏ PTA
    ❏ Local media
    ❏ No info received
  1. How informed are you about events and activities happening at school? (select one)
    ❏ Very informed
    ❏ Informed enough
    ❏ Somewhat informed
    ❏ Not informed
  1. How do you stay current on BOE and district initiatives? (select all that apply)
    ❏ District/school website
    ❏ Email/school e­newsletters
    ❏ Teachers/staff
    ❏ Word of mouth
    ❏ Teacher/classroom website
    ❏ Social media
    ❏ Telephone
    ❏ PTA
    ❏ Local media
    ❏ No info received
  1. What is the top communication tool you currently use to share information?
    ❏ Email
    ❏ Website
    ❏ Telephone
    ❏ Newsletter
    ❏ Social media
    ❏ SMS text notifications
  1. Which quicklinks do you use the most? (select all that apply)
    ❏ Assignments/homework
    ❏ School resources
    ❏ District/school news
    ❏ Student Information System (e.g. Powerschool, eSchoolPlus)
    ❏ PTA
    ❏ School notifications (delays, closings, etc.)
    ❏ Staff directory
    ❏ Lunch menu
    ❏ Calendar
    ❏ BOE budget and policies
    ❏ BOE agenda and meeting notes
    ❏ Athletics info/schedule
    ❏ Non­-athletics extracurriculars
    ❏ Other (please specify)
  1. What is the social media network you personally use the most?
    ❏ Facebook
    ❏ Twitter
    ❏ Instagram
    ❏ Youtube
    ❏ Pinterest
    ❏ LinkedIn
    ❏ Other (please specify)
  1. Which topics do you want to hear more about? (select all that apply)
    ❏ Curriculum
    ❏ Assessments
    ❏ Counseling resources
    ❏ Technology learning
    ❏ Volunteering
    ❏ Athletics
    ❏ Extra curricular
    ❏ Safety and security
    ❏ Transportation
    ❏ Budget
    ❏ Instruction supervision/evaluation
    ❏ School culture/climate
    ❏ Health and wellness
  1. How do you typically access the school website?
    ❏ Smartphone
    ❏ Tablet
    ❏ Desktop computer
  1. What online tools are your teachers using to create classroom websites?
    ❏ WordPress
    ❏ Google Classroom
    ❏ Weebly
    ❏ Edublog
    ❏ Other (please specify)

By asking the right questions, you’ll learn too what kinds of topics your users want to hear about more. Your administration may very well have certain strategic messaging and content that needs to be served up, but you also must take into account the kinds of content – curriculum, assessments, counseling, technology, parent resources, etc. – your users want and need.

Distribute, collect and tabulate

Once you know who you’re asking and what you’re asking, now comes data. You need to distribute, collect and analyze your survey results.

Links should be emailed directly to your survey participants. Set a deadline for submitting the completed survey, and use the built-in tabulating tools to organize and analyze your results. Once your results are in, put together a summary document to share with all who participated – your website planning team and all who responded.

Next steps:

By now I hope you understand the importance of really getting to know the scope and breadth of your user groups and role they play in designing a more effective school website. Getting to know and understand your user groups will infinitely help you not only build that next great website, but maintain it going forward. Your surveys, after all, are not one-time shots but an ongoing process that you’ll want to revisit in years to come.

So jump in, identify your key groups and start building your lists of survey participants. Then download the Website Planning Survey Question Guide to create your surveys. After your survey is distributed and collected, analyze and share the results with your planning team and the respondents themselves.





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As co-founder of Campus Suite, Steve believes behind every great school is great communication. His tech savvy and passion for design fuel his desire to help administrators understand, embrace and seize the power of web communications.

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