Why WordPress Is a Great Option for Higher Education Websites
Ready to overhaul your higher ed institution's website? Here's why you should consider WordPress.
If your college or university is ready to update its website, it may be time to consider WordPress. This content management system (CMS) should be in the discussion with Drupel as one of the top choices for schools that want the flexibility of an affordable, simple to manage, and user-friendly website platform.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is an open-source CMS designed with usability and flexibility top-of-mind. It lets end-users quickly and easily build websites, and it is quickly gaining momentum with higher education institutions.
Colleges and universities choose WordPress for big and small websites. With WordPress, schools can launch websites and microsites that look and perform great on desktop computers and mobile devices alike.
3 benefits of WordPress for higher ed websites
There are several reasons why colleges and universities choose WordPress for their sites, including:
WordPress is available free-of-charge, which makes it an economical choice for higher ed institutions with limited funds at their disposal. Once you set up a WordPress account, you can access the website code and modify it at your convenience. Plus, you can implement free custom WordPress themes and templates to give your site a look and feel all its own.
Of course, if you want to capitalize on all that WordPress has to offer, there are many premium plugins you can install. Even if you do so, these plugins tend to be more cost-effective than those associated with other CMS platforms.
Let's not forget about the low cost of keeping a WordPress site up to date, either. WordPress sites generally require minimal time and resources to maintain. Sites on Drupal or other CMS platforms may require a full-blown rebuild to give them a fresh appearance.
A WordPress site gives you the ability to host multiple microsites. So, if a department in your college or university wants its own web page, you can set up a page in WordPress for that department to manage on its own. This ensures the department's web page is connected to your school's main WordPress site, which is essential for security and central administration, but lets the department can add and update content on its own as needed.
Meanwhile, WordPress offers a multilingual backend that is available in over 70 languages. This ensures you can post content in different languages across your WordPress site with language conversions. There are also plugins that automatically translate your site's content into different languages (although we’d recommend that a human who knows the language still review these pages).
With WordPress, you won't have to worry about having comprehensive website management experience or expertise in-house to run your school's site. WordPress is designed for end-users of all backgrounds and skill levels, and most users have no trouble learning how to use the CMS in a matter of minutes. College or university staff members can usually start using WordPress right away without the risk of causing their school's site to crash, especially with a website consulting firm to back them up and answer any questions.
WordPress ensures you can provide only authorized users with the ability to publish content, too. The CMS lets you establish user roles for who can create content, save drafts, and publish posts. It also offers custom roles, so you can give specific users permission to manage or edit different components of your site.
Tips to build a WordPress website for higher ed
The benefits of a WordPress website for higher education can be significant. Keep these tips in mind if you plan to build a WordPress website for your school.
1. Choose the right hosting provider
Evaluate the hosting provider options and select one that can handle your site's traffic, minimize crashes and downtime, and keep the site running at optimal speeds.
WordPress-specific hosting plans are available, and they offer a wide range of features. Along with these plans, you should explore options from Bluehost, HostGator, and other hosting providers. In doing so, identify which hosting provider offers the services, features, and support you need to accommodate your school's site.
2. Get an SEO plugin
Install a search engine optimization (SEO) plugin for your WordPress site. This plugin lets you analyze content and uncover ways to optimize it for search discoverability and visitor engagement. This information will help you produce quality content that drives visitors to your site.
Search the WordPress Plugin Directory, where you can explore many SEO plugin options. After you download the plugin of choice, you can use it to consistently optimize your content.
3. Leverage Google Analytics
Add Google Analytics to your WordPress website. With Google Analytics, you can monitor site traffic and gain insights into how visitors engaging with your content. Over time, Google Analytics will provide key insights you can use to make sure your site is hitting the mark with its target audience.
You can instantly integrate Google Analytics into your WordPress website and use the tool to retrieve real-time site data. You can even incorporate Google Analytics into your WordPress dashboard, so you can stay up to date on who is visiting your site, where visitors are coming from, and more.
4. Limit the size of your site's images
Compress images on your WordPress site. Remember, the smaller the image size, the faster your website will run. Thus, you should limit the size of images to keep your site's load times as low as possible.
Free online tools like Kraken.io, ImageResize, and Optimizilla allow you to resize any image without delay. These tools are easy to use and won't require any software to be installed on your computers.
5. Watch for WordPress updates
Keep an eye out for WordPress updates so you can fix any resulting site bugs or glitches (and, yes, WordPress updates can cause bugs and glitches, especially with third-party plug-ins) before they get out of hand. WordPress typically releases minor updates every two weeks and major updates about once a month. If you watch for updates in your WordPress dashboards, you can keep all areas of your site performing at top levels.
Back up your WordPress site before installing any updates. After the updates are installed, back up the site once again, to have the most current version available to restore if anything goes wrong.
Want to revamp your higher-ed website? Partner with KWALL
If you are considering an overhaul of your institution’s website, meet with KWALL. We have over 10 years of industry experience in the higher education sector that can help you build a site that drives enrollment, improves student retention, and enhances your school's reputation. To learn more, contact the KWALL team today.