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Out of the box: Why do language school websites become an out-of-date version of reality?


Why do schools plough all their energies into sexy brochures when customers are all on the web, asks Richard Bradford

I’m perplexed. The internet has been having a significant impact on society since the mid-1990s, and it is now not unusual for people to sleep with their iPhones under their pillows. But many language schools are still failing to recognise the potential of the World Wide Web.

I just do not understand how language schools, colleges and all sorts of education providers take up weeks of valuable staff time each year in discussions about updating their paper brochures, but do little to refresh the website, other than changing the dates and fees.

Sure, the brochure might travel the world and appear in important agent offices, but the website is on twenty-four hours a day, every single day of every year.

Surely that’s the thing to pour your heart and soul into, to tweak and preen and get just right, to optimise on a regular basis?

So why don’t most education providers we encounter do this? Why does the website become an out-of-date version of reality (updated rapidly for the BC inspection) when its fundamental purpose is to act as a brutal selling machine? Why do some schools leave it five years to fully update the website even when they have a beautiful content management system which allows them to change information at the drop of a hat?

Brochures might provide everything required to convert an interested student into a booking, but even the most expansive print run and world-wide distribution effort will never reach the same potential audience. Agents also rely on accurate up-to-date online information about schools in order to fill the blanks in their knowledge and look professional at the point of sale.

Is this you? Why not start making site updates and the expansion of your online information the ongoing task, and make your brochure (if you still need one) a glossy snapshot of your comprehensive website?

Richard Bradford is MD of Disquiet Dog Digital Agency (www.disquietdog.com). Disquiet Dog also writes and delivers the ELT Digital Marketing Bootcamp run by British Council and English UK