WordPress has a massive global reach, which is illustrated by the mere fact that more than 28 percent of all websites are powered by the CMS. WordPress’ flexibility and ability to scale makes it the obvious choice for any website, regardless of industry. One industry that has begun to embrace WordPress is education.
Primary schools and universities alike need an online presence to communicate information to students, faculty, donors, and parents. From K-12 to graduate school, WordPress is the best option for any academic institution.
Proprietary solutions are expensive and require ongoing maintenance and web management. WordPress is free, open source, and provides users with full control over their sites. After the initial site build, the cost to maintain a website on WordPress is nominal.
In 2014 with the help of WebDevStudios, Newark Public Schools made the switch to WordPress. Before moving almost 80 websites, the district was paying almost $100,000 a year in service fees for website management. Since 2014, WordPress has saved the school district $150,000. The main school district website acts as an information hub for students and staff while giving each school their own subsite. Each of those websites is now faster and more functional.
It’s easy to use.
WordPress’ ease of use make it superior to other solutions. It empowers users to be in control of their own publishing experience. It also enables collaboration so that educators, students, and administrators alike can log in an contribute to the site in real time.
It’s fully customizable and extendable.
Customization may be the most crucial for a varied organization like a university. Every school should have a home page with contact information, hours, and location. Universities could use a form page to send prospective students admission information or allow people to sign-up for clubs. You can even add an eCommerce page to sell books or school paraphernalia online. WordPress allows you to create and manage all of this in one place.
Moreover, each separate organization within the institution can create a website or at least a landing page with faculty and class information. You can even create a calendar so no one misses an event or lecture. With one CMS, each unique group has the freedom to have a place online.
WordPress is accessible, which is important for a diverse culture like a campus. Every WordPress site automatically meets certain accessibility standards, making it easier for vision-impaired users to enjoy your content. The platform allows for multiple translations, which makes any organization more global.
The Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania founded an online business publication in 1999. Though they were using WordPress, WebDevStudios gave the site a complete overhaul. One of the biggest goals was to make the site more translation friendly and therefore more accessible. WDS set the business school up with a custom theme to give the site a magazine feel. These two crucial steps will allow for more people to find and appreciate the website.
WordPress In Use
After WP Campus in July, Modern Tribe conducted a survey looking for trends among 486 education professionals using WordPress.
The data showed these institutions were using the CMS for many of the aforementioned reasons:
- On average teams of 2-3 people are designing and maintaining websites
- 32 percent are running over 100 WordPress websites
- 53 percent have created eCommerce sites
Schools, specifically the colleges and universities in the survey, are benefitting from the affordability and customization of the CMS.
This evidence suggests that WordPress is the right option for education and is proven to work. However, not enough schools have chosen it. According to a study by the University of Colorado Denver, only 24 out of 132 universities use WordPress. That’s almost half the amount using Drupal. That said, 51 of the universities used WordPress as a secondary CMS.
So why aren’t academic institutions choosing WordPress first? The Modern Tribe survey indicated some potential problems. Well, it boils down to these three main problems: scalability, misconception, and security.
18 percent of people answered that scalability is an issue. Schools want to be able to scale their sites and they don’t believe they can do so with WordPress. 37 percent of those surveyed were fighting the misconception that WordPress is only a blogging platform.
Security is also a factor for many campus representatives: 42 percent hadn’t vetted their plugins, and 13 percent aren’t running the latest version of WordPress. This led to 26 percent experiencing compromised user accounts.
The results of the survey clearly indicate the misconceptions of WordPress that many WP professionals face on a regular basis. If a campus representative doesn’t think the CMS is secure or can handle their needs, the organization will go a different way. Once schools learn the true value of WordPress, switching will become the obvious choice.
Conferences like WP Campus are a great way to disseminate the proper information as well as to learn what the education community needs. Users will learn how to keep WordPress secure as well as the huge breadth of functionality the CMS has.
Word of mouth is also crucial for extending WordPress’s reach in education. With the number of people within these organizations, there is someone who has experience with WordPress. If someone in the team successfully manages a small project using WordPress, the rest of the team will take notice.
Once the misconceptions are debunked, more schools will feel comfortable taking the leap.
Do you think WordPress is the best choice for academic institutions? Answer in the comments below.