WordPress For Education, Schools And Universities
WordPress isn’t just for bloggers. Today, WordPress powers nearly 38 percent of all websites on the internet. This includes public school district websites, and sites for some of the largest and most respected universities.
WordPress’ open-source platform is ideal for the changing waves of education delivery and distribution. Higher education platforms are beginning to use WordPress as a means to solve common problems on their campuses, as well as to deliver open-source content and course opportunities.
It’s no surprise then that higher education is utilizing the power of WordPress for university websites. School and university sites are used frequently by students, parents, and educators.
Therefore, it’s tremendously important that these sites are reliable and sturdy in times of high traffic, work flawlessly to create a great multisite environment, are scalable for institutions looking to grow and become more accessible, and can adapt to the various needs of different institutions. For universities, WordPress can be an invaluable resource.
Enterprise-level websites, like a university site, often have to accommodate localization, multilingual content, and connected micro sites. These are all things WordPress handles seamlessly. Higher education enterprise solutions often require complex access requirements and permissions; WordPress’ defined user roles easily solve this problem. For students, WordPress is made simple due to the customizability of user roles.
Finally, perhaps most importantly for higher education institutions, WordPress is equipped with multisite functionality. This is an essential function for institutions with multiple departments and organizations.
Schools like the University of Texas have WordPress multisite enabled for their students and faculty.
WordPress Multisite allows you to build a network of websites from just one WordPress installation. Schools and universities can create different subdomains, subdirectories, and standalone sites for different campuses and organizations, while still maintaining a common theme and managing them all from one dashboard.
Multisite allows for a specific user role, entitled ‘super admin’, that can install plugins, manage themes, and add new sites. You can run multiple sites using the same login credentials, and save space by not having to install themes and plugins multiple times. Multisite is the perfect combination of independence and cohesion that schools and universities need.
To learn more about brands using WordPress multisite, see these five examples of brands using multisite in the wild.
Out of the box, WordPress is a high-performance platform with powerful media management, tremendous customizability, and high-level security. WordPress can be scaled to deliver a sophisticated design with complex architecture for use by a global brand, school, or university.
However, scaling a university website can be complicated. Properly scaling a site requires preparing for traffic growth and adding infrastructure to help alleviate or remove the damage that traffic spikes have on your site’s reliability. A dedicated digital experience platform, such as that offered by WP Engine, can help your university site do both of these things.
University and school sites are unpredictable when it comes to traffic. You need to be prepared for everything. WP Engine has helped hundreds of thousands of websites scale overnight from 10 hits per minute to a million hits per minute. This is because our platform is built to scale, thanks to its top-notch security, scalable architecture, and site speed reliability.
Ease of Use
A major benefit of using WordPress for schools and universities is how easy the platform is to learn. You can use WordPress for education sites without any programming or web design experience. The Content Management System (CMS) boasts an intuitive, user-friendly interface that is simple to navigate, even for beginners. The dashboard panel is clean and organized in a way that makes everything straightforward and easy to find.
Additionally, there are a wide variety of resources available to help you get familiar with WordPress. For example, you can access support documentation and guides directly from the WordPress dashboard. There is also a helpful Welcome Guide that provides a tutorial on how to use the WordPress editor.
Plus, thanks to how large the WordPress community is, there are a plethora of technical guides, tutorials, and articles online. These resources can walk you through virtually any issue or question you have about using WordPress for universities.
Adaptability & Flexibility
Another benefit of WordPress is its flexibility and adaptability, helping it meet just about anyone’s needs. With thousands of themes and plugins to choose from, it’s easy to tailor your site to your needs without even touching the core code. Many of these plugins were created for and by higher education institutions.
Schools and universities can use plugins to create a campus map, student directory, and more. Additionally, the back end of WordPress features over 70 languages, which a university or school can use to make its site more accessible.
It’s inevitable that users of a university or school website are going to want mobile capabilities as well. The WordPress back end will adjust to any screen size, so mobile friendliness is not an issue. Virtually all themes offered are mobile friendly, so customization and aesthetic appearance aren’t inhibited.
With the great variety of schools and educational programs, there’s a need for total customizability. Custom themes make WordPress one of the best CMS options for universities, allowing schools to take full control of their sites’ designs. What’s more, branding consistency is made easy with the use of WordPress multisite.
Finally, as we mentioned, WordPress is easy to use for just about everyone. The user dashboard is adaptable and friendly, even for the most inexperienced CMS users. This is especially important for higher education sites and microsites that will have various users and contributors.
WordPress for Departments and Colleges (Multisites)
Schools and universities often do not have single-purpose sites. They may have different websites for various departments, colleges, and so on. In fact, university sites can involve a very complicated architecture.
You’ll likely need numerous sites tailored to different types of users: students (prospective and current), professors, administration, alumni, faculty, and staff. All those different sites and branches can cause some serious confusion. However, WordPress makes managing them all easy.
You can install plugins and apply them to all websites, or choose which sites will have what plugins enabled. Similarly, you can automatically apply themes to all of the sites by ‘network enabling’ them, or create a unique look for each site.
A number of advanced settings and configurations allow you to make other quick changes to all of your sites at once, using an interface that allows you to edit multiple sites simultaneously. Finally, you’ll only need to upgrade WordPress once; there’s no need to spend time upgrading each individual site.
Content Governance & User Permissions
Multisite eliminates the issue of duplicating users across sites, by allowing you to manage a centralized set of users with permission to each site that they need access to. A super admin has access to all site network administration features.
In contrast, an administrator has access to administration features for a single site. An editor is someone who can publish and manage posts, including the posts of other users. An author can publish and manage their own posts, while a contributor can write and manage posts but not publish them. Finally, a subscriber can only manage their profile.
If you want to go beyond the six user role options included upon installation of WordPress multisite, there are a number of plugins to help customize them.
News & Social Media
Many universities rely heavily on social media for a variety of purposes. This includes sharing news and updates, connecting and communicating with students, and using social platforms for marketing, promotion, and recruitment initiatives. It can also be a useful classroom learning tool that incorporates and encourages student participation.
With so many use cases, it’s important for schools to use a platform that is easy to integrate with social media. This is another reason why using WordPress for school websites is so prevalent.
WordPress’ capabilities for incorporating social media can help you create a more seamless experience. There are a wide variety of plugins available that you can use for connecting your site to social media networks.
This includes sharing news and blogs on your site through RSS feeds, adding social media icons to each site, and including social share buttons to help increase engagement. Plus, if you’re using WordPress multisite, you won’t have to install these social media plugins on each individual site. You can download them once to use across your entire network.
One of the main advantages of using WordPress for school websites is how inexpensive it is. WordPress is free to download and use.
Aside from your domain, the only cost you’ll need to consider when getting started is hosting. However, there are some reliable providers (like us!) that offer affordable WordPress hosting for universities.
Many institutions are using WordPress as their main CMS. Others use WordPress for their top-level website, as well as many of their departmental and division-level sites. After adopting the platform, many institutions recognize the need for quality hosting to manage traffic spikes and ensure site reliability.
In the hopes of achieving an optimal baseline, Shenandoah University opted to use WP Engine to maintain a fully-functioning, secure site. After signing up for a plan here at WP Engine, Shenandoah experienced significantly faster load times, tighter security, better quality control, and the ability to leverage automatic updates.
Texas A&M Agrilife, an institution comprised of five different agencies, employs WordPress and WP Engine’s multisite functionality. Texas A&M AgriLife’s hundreds of internal clients all want unique sites.
Yet developing hundreds of brand-new themes and individual sites would be virtually impossible with Texas A&M AgriLife’s resources. Using multisite empowers its various agencies and clients to quickly and easily set up WordPress university sites, and customize them with pre-selected and vetted themes and plugins.
Make the Best Version of Your Site With WP Engine
Here at WP Engine, our mission is to provide top-notch digital experiences for all our customers — including schools and universities. With 24/7 customer support and the latest in technology, our resources and solutions can help you take your site to the next level.
To discover how we can help you run and manage a quality WordPress education site, check out our managed hosting plans to find the perfect option for your needs!