Using websites and apps to market your school

You know all the wonderful work that goes on in your school, but does your school’s website reflect this? And is it time for your school to connect with its community via app? School News looks at key considerations in using websites and apps to market your school.

Websites can be wonderful things – when they work well. A school website is the virtual front door to the school, a place to welcome all visitors, and to convey that all important first impression. It needs to be highly professional, and it should also function as a tool for students, teachers, family and visitors to access information about all aspects of school life.

An important consideration is how your website displays on a mobile device as this is what most of your school’s community will be using. The smartphone is the tool of choice for most parents of school age children, and it is estimated that 90 per cent of New Zealanders will be using smartphones by 2019.

Your school website must to be easy to navigate. A visitor to the homepage should not require the tenacity of a private investigator to locate the absence reporting tool or the teachers’ contact information, they should be able to spot them on the homepage within seconds.

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Your site must be easy to navigate


When reviewing content, it is helpful to consider the messages you want to communicate.  Ask yourself how you can communicate the school’s vision, how parents can support their children’s learning, and how your school promotes Maori and Pasifika achievement.

The school’s values should be clearly outlined, along with information about what sets it apart from other schools. This could be its faith, multicultural community or rural location, for example.

Ensure that the gallery is well maintained as this will promote parent engagement. What parent doesn’t want to see a photo of their child looking happy at school? Regular updates to classroom blogs and photo galleries will keep parents and caregivers coming back, thus maintaining the home-school connection.

Most school websites have the following basic information:

  • Calendars for school activities, school timetables and term dates
  • Policy statements relating to attendance, uniform and internet use
  • School news on individual and group achievements
  • Information about academic and co-curricular activities

And if your school is not yet hooked up to social media, consider the move. Closed Facebook groups make it easy for school communities to connect, and Twitter is a great vehicle for disseminating daily notices.

It doesn’t end there. Apps are slowly but surely becoming a communication vehicle of choice for schools. Given that today’s new entrants were born into a world awash with apps, it makes perfect sense that their parents expect to use apps to communicate.  And with the average person checking their smartphone 85 times a day, an app is a savvy way for a school to engage with students, teachers and parents.

“It’s important to understand the role of each medium,” advises Laura Hunt, managing partner of tiqbiz, a school communication app. “The website is a public branding tool that presents your school to prospective parents, whereas the app is a communication tool for the school to message current parents.”

Inbox Design

It’s not easy keeping the school website up-to-date on top of the myriad other tasks required of administration staff – and that’s where companies such as Inbox Design come in. Inbox Design, a web design company that works with many schools, uses your schools KAMAR Student Management System (SMS) to allow seamless updates to the school website. “We are one of the few companies to offer the calendar and notice integration, with our easy-to-use pages and content manager,” says director Sheldon Lendrum. “And our designs are all ‘responsive’ which means that they will work great regardless of the device/screen size the visitor is using.” The Tauranga-based company gets school websites off the ground as soon as three weeks after initial consultation, depending on the time taken by the school to upload content. The process includes discussion, provision of a mock up design for staff to try, page building then content upload. Content can include but is not limited to school information, events and calendar, daily notices, news, prospectuses, contact and absence forms, job vacancies, and sports registrations. Prices start at around $6000 +GST which includes the design, hosting and content management, as well as support, training and backups. Inbox Design also offers a native iOS and Android app for the school to work in tandem with the website, allowing for push notifications to go to caregivers.

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Tiqbiz is an app used by more than 1000 schools


Tiqbiz is a comprehensive school communication app system used by more than 1000 schools internationally, preschool through to secondary.

It provides integration options for schools wanting to give parents a choice between a website and a school communication app. These allow content to be published between the website and the app, reducing double handing of information.

Tiqbiz consults with schools needing a website with prices starting at $500 for set up and $650/year annual fee. It’s a three-part process comprising consultation, design and build, and support. Schools have access to technical support for as long as the website is live.

There are no set up fees for the tiqbiz app and annual fees are between $450 – $650/per. It provides three levels of communication: whole school, year level and individual parents. The whole school includes notices and events that are published to everyone, the year level targets a particular group of parents with information such as a bus being late, for example, and the private message system can be used to organise meetings or follow up on permission slips.

Teachers can be given ‘publishing rights’ to their class which schools say works well to keep parents engaged in their child’s learning. “Schools are getting great feedback from parents. With shared responsibility amongst school staff, your school app will feed the most up-to-date, relevant and exciting content to parents and really boost your school’s feeling of community.”

School News

School News is not affiliated with any government agency, body or political party. We are an independently owned, family-operated magazine.
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