Hit the ground running

onCourse starts all it’s websites with a template that provides the basic foundation for your site, particularly the dynamic elements.

This is because there’s a lot of elements to website design, from the pratival and fucntional, to the visuals, and the navigation.

Add to this the specifc challenges of designing websites for training providers and you have a lot of funtional and dynamic element to build.

onCourse has six template websites to start you with, so that you can see how your student management system will display the course, class and enrolments. We recommend that all new website desgins, whether it implemnetaiton or a redesign, start with a template and then design from there.

You could spend a lot of time and money getting someone to design a completely new design, but the reality is that there’s only so many ways to structure this type of information, and we’ve had 12 years of working with clients to find the most effective ones.

The design elements like colours, backgrounds, fonts, etc, are all realtively easy to update, but that basic structure, or way the informaiton is managed, is a lot of time and effort to make a new design, and you won’t always get a good return on that time and money.

So start with the template.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel

Many of the necessary web design elements are provied in your onCourse template, as well as the technical eletments that drive your Dynamic Web Pages .

Dynamic pages include the Course pages, the search results pages and the informaiton pages such as your venue details or tutor resumes. The dynamic pages are thee bulk of your website, and you need to add your content to the database to see how it works on the staging site.

For Training Providers, web designs have a number of challenges, and the biggest is managing the ‘push/pull’ need for current content, vs getting your organic rankings for your page by collecting ‘clicks’.

The functional and practical aspects of this course/class set up is the most important, and challenging, part of your website design. Most of the activity on your website will be around the courses and classes, so getting all the parts to work together (current information, data collection, checkout etc) is a big part of the mechanic of the website.

It’s important to get it right.

In onCourse, we manage this by using two elements - the course and the class. This means you get the best of both - an ‘evergreen’ course pages, with and class information that is automatically added and removed.

This adding and removing of classes is automated, so you don’t need to have specialised skills in websites to keep your information current.

So where do you focus your effort?

The truth is your website is an ongoing, evloving part of your business. Like your classes, it devleops and improves overtime. So the best approch to a redesign or new website development is most of then Rapid Application Development (RAD), or prototyping.

We do this with a staging site, or site that is not your ‘live’ site, but being built and usuable as it’s being devleoped.

Basically this means you start with a template, add your content, test it out, make some changes, and test it again, then get some other people to test it, then make it live.

The aim of this is to get the minimum viable website and then go live.

Testing is important

Website developement relies on each compotents or code working together, so it’s really important to spend as much time as needed to check all the parts of the site are working as expected while in staging. This means clicking all the navigation options, menues, doing searches and clicking every button or link to make sure it works.

This is particularly important when you have third party elements, like LightWidget, that will help you build

Planning each design detail can be a waste of your time when the componets dont’ work together as expected.

This is why RAD is so successful. Adding images to a staging site takes about as much time as making mock up on the design, and you can see how it works with all the other elements.

When you add your images directly to the staging site, you can tell immedately know if it works with the other design elements. Then you can make changes just as quickly.

Minimum Viable Website

Your first aim is to add your main content - course descriptions, sites, rooms classes, data colelction etc, so that these elements are in your staging site and you can see how it works and do your own testing.

Your second aim is added the content for the standard Static Web Pages - about us, terms and conditions etc. Some of these pages are needed when you apply for a merchant accout to collect payment, and others are required by legislation or regulations.

The last is to get you main branding elements on the site. This will mostly be the logos, images and colours of the site.

You’ll get help along the way

onCourse will help you do add the colours, images and logos, so you don’t need to have those skills to get up and running.

Once you go live, you will see how well the website is working - are you getting enrolments? If there more than you got before? What kind of feedback are you getting from students?

This type of development works well for two reasons