From SEO to information architecture, design to content development, the process of building a private school website is multifaceted to say the least. So it’s no surprise that when software training rolls around, our schools are rightfully focused on learning the aspects of onMessage that best enable them to manage the site on the day it launches.
With hundreds of onMessage school websites under our belt, we get it. But we also know onMessage has so much more to offer our schools, and it’s these next-step features that we at Blackbaud K-12 get most excited about. To help our schools unlock their website’s “hidden” potential, we thought it would be fun to have a different K-12 consultant share his or her favorite onMessage feature, once a month through the end of the year.
So without further ado, please allow me to introduce my favorite onMessage feature…Set as Home Page.
You might be thinking, in your best Monty Python impersonation: It’s merely a checkbox! Yes, it’s a checkbox, but this is no ordinary checkbox. Set as Home Page enables any page of an onMessage site to instantly become the home page—no waiting for a programmatic update, no costly change order. I like to think of it as the power to communicate. With a checkbox.
The one inherent downside to the website design process is that all parties involved are typically focused on creating a beautiful home page for the day the site launches. Over the years, I’ve seen far too many schools who were head-over-heels in love with their home page on launch day express frustration a year or two later when the custom design no longer met the school’s evolving communication needs. As a result, many of these schools then completed redesigns that went too far in the other direction, favoring content flexibility over design aesthetics.
With onMessage, we didn’t want our schools to have to choose. Now, thanks to Set as Home Page, you can have an attention-grabbing design AND the ability to update home page messaging, in a matter of minutes, with the click of a button. Just think of the possibilities.
Before I go any further, I’d like to thank Kent Place School for allowing me to use its website design to showcase this feature. To get started, let’s take a look at how the actual Kent Place home page looks at the time of writing this:
Beautiful, right? Now, let’s pretend reunion weekend is upcoming. To help those who can’t attend stay connected, and to maximize the good vibes for those in attendance, we create the following version of the home page. All with the goal of increasing online giving.
Our reunion home page can be set up in advance with a preview link available for stakeholders to provide input. Then on reunion day, we can activate it with the Set as Home Page checkbox, and the school’s main URL will automatically redirect to this page. All without modifying the original home page. Once reunion is over, we select Set as Home Page on the original home page, and everything is back to normal. Easy!
It’s also important to note that our hypothetical reunion home page wasn’t planned during the initial design process, nor did I have any new design styles created for this exercise. This is to say, it’s all stuff you can do with your school’s onMessage site, too. Of course, adding new design elements is also a possibility for schools with the in-house expertise or the budget flexibility to do so.
Hijacking the home page could also be done in advance of the school’s application deadline to serve as a reminder, provide last-minute instructions, and direct users to the online application form. Commencement offers another good opportunity, where there’s likely a large contingent of site visitors (grandparents, extended family) who aren’t familiar with the site and don’t have a community login.
Can you brainstorm other ways your school could utilize Set as Home Page? If so, please share in the comments section below. And don’t forget to check back next month for tips on how to get the most out of onMessage with another of our favorite features.