Schools are busy organisations working on tight budgets. When it comes to technology, I hate seeing schools invest time and money in proprietary solutions that lock the school in and offer no real option for moving elsewhere in future.

Four moving boxes on a floor, the first one is open.

At Braw Solutions, we decided to use WordPress as the default CMS for the school websites we develop. We considered many other options, including developing our own custom CMS, but we settled on WordPress for the main reasons that WordPress is both open and very popular1 it currently powers about 25% of all websites.

Using an open platform means that schools will not be locked into using us for either future development or hosting. If a school decides that they can host their site cheaper somewhere else, or that they would prefer to work with another web development company at some point in the future, moving their WordPress site is relatively straightforward, and there is no shortage of experienced WordPress developers and businesses that can help.

I’ve worked in, and with, many schools who have put time and effort into developing proprietary websites only to find that the provider is no longer available or appropriate. Schools often find themselves having to lose years of work and content to move to other platforms or tools.

The same applies when looking at other systems schools might use such as mark books or learning platforms.

Not Black and White Like most decisions in life, choosing between open and closed systems is not a black and white decision. There are many other factors such as fitness for purpose and training that will affect decision making. Sometimes the closed system may represent the best choice.

However, I do think that schools should have a long-term technology view and ask themselves not just what are the initial or ongoing costs of a solution but – what are the costs if we ever need to change it?

Questions to Ask Some things to think about when considering how easy it might be to move platforms.

  • Can data be exported? If so, is it in a format that can import into another system? If not, can you afford to lose all of your data?
  • Is there an established community around the solution? Larger communities will have more answers and advice to the type of problems you might encounter when moving solutions.
  • How much time and effort will be required to maintain or move a solution? Do you have someone that you can assign to this task with enough time that they can do the work properly?

  1. As developers there are advantages to us using WordPress as well, such as WordPress being an established mature product with a large, and helpful, developer community. 

Published on: 2 March 2016

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