Using a benchmark to form the perfect school website brief

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Here’s where every web project should start: a benchmark.

Why benchmarking is invaluable

Critiques, peer analysis, KPIs and best-in-class reviews all fall under benchmarking. The goal is to create something measurable, firstly to reveal where your website stands now but more importantly, how the website could be working harder. Briefs often contain goals such as “drive more traffic to X page” or “increase time spent on the website”. Whilst these are measurable, the questions that are missing are “why aren’t users visiting X page?” or “why don’t users spend very long on our website”. This is where having a go-to benchmarking system that is tailored to independent schools is invaluable.

How not to benchmark

There’s an important distinction to make when benchmarking a website and that is the difference between a straightforward internal review and a full benchmark. The key difference is that a benchmark should be removed from all personal bias. For example, “is this website aesthetically pleasing” is both subjective and prone to bias. Instead, a benchmark should be entirely measurable – “is there a downloadable copy of the school’s prospectus that is accessible within two clicks of any given page?” or “is there responsive functionality for mobile devices”. This is where a school website can be distilling down to a perfect formula. However, it is just as important for a benchmark to not be used to erode personality or the bespoke nature of a high quality website but rather, to act as a framework to better position a school’s website.

Forming the brief

Off the back of the benchmark, a brief can be formed that is tangible, measureable and based in fact. In turn, this brief will translate into a set of design rules, build considerations and end-of-project performance indicators.

We’ll be covering this topic in depth during our upcoming webinar How to make your website work for you. You can sign up for the webinar here: