Photos of giant peacocks, huge videos of children obscuring vital information, microscopic print – some private school websites are enough to drive users to distraction, experts say.
Susan Hamlyn, director of the Good Schools Guide Advice Service, says she is “frequently appalled” at how dreadful some private school websites are, despite large amounts of money being spent on them.
School marketing directors with big budgets are splashing out on jazzy sites but are failing to consider the needs of parents, she says.
One particularly hyperactive site “induced brain damage” in those who viewed it, she says.
Ms Hamlyn, who writes about the issue in a blog post, tells TES: “Independent schools have more money to spend and they so often put the money into the wrong place. They don’t understand that it’s not about presentation, it’s about information.
“They are dreadful for the parents. You are being wowed by all these gizmos and marvellous moving pictures whizzing around, but all parents want is information really quickly.”
To guide other schools to design sites in the right way, Ms Hamlyn highlights what she believes to be some of the best private school websites, including Abingdon School in Oxfordshire and Rossall School in Lancashire. These sites, she says, provide lots of easily accessible information in a calm and measured way.
The top 10 school website crimes:
- The headteacher – and even their name – is absent from the website.
- Use of yawn-inducing clichés such as “To us, every child is an individual”.
- Lack of basic information. Is the school single-sex? What subjects does it offer?
- Out-of-date information.
- Distracting and irrelevant slideshows of pictures.
- No search facility.
- Tiny print and too much of it.
- Fees that are, it’s claimed, “competitive” – but you can’t find out what they are.
- No mention of leavers’ destinations.
- No mention of support for children with SEND.