Cultivating a love of lifelong learning is a hallmark of Jewish tradition and many synagogues support an active early childhood center or ECC within their walls. Often, information on the ECC is included within the main synagogue website with individual pages sharing information on admissions, programs, tuition, and more. Although this approach is popular, is it the best way for a synagogue to showcase it's school? Is the creation of a separate website a better option? Or, should a third solution, like a distinctive sub-site devoted to the early child center be considered?
This week we will explore the two most popular options: housing the ECC within the main synagogue website or the creation of a separate website. It is worth noting that there isn’t a one-size fits all approach or a right answer. Key elements such as target audience, the ECC’s relationship to the synagogue, SEO, cost, and general website upkeep must be weighed when considering the best approach for your community.
What this looks like: Under a "Lifelong Learning" or "Education" main menu item, there is a link for the early childhood center. Sometimes menu items appear off of this ECC link spotlighting programming, teachers, extended day options and so on.
Pros: Your ECC is an important part of your synagogue. Including all ECC information within the synagogue website reinforces this close relationship. Online branding and marketing between these two close groups are aligned and consistent (see Westchester Jewish Center and Temple Israel Center). This is also the most economical and easy-to-maintain choice. Current staffers who are knowledgeable in editing your main synagogue website can take the lead on populating the ECC section with content. There is no additional cost for the synagogue as more pages on the main website are simply created.
Cons: Synagogue websites are busy places and contain tons of information. Your ECC may not get the same level of prominence as it would if it was featured on its own website. It may also be harder for non-members and non-Jewish families to learn about your ECC. Non-member families may not know how to navigate your site. Some non-member families may also unfairly consider the program too closely aligned with your shul for them to consider.
What this looks like: A visitor to your website clicks on a link or image to learn more about your ECC. He or she is directed away from your website and to a separate website solely devoted to the ECC.
Pros: If your ECC routinely attracts non-member families and non-Jewish families who are drawn to your program because of the school’s philosophy and exceptional programming, a separate website may be worth considering. A distinctive site also makes the most sense if your ECC is aligned with your synagogue, but is somewhat independently owned and operated. SEO can be more targeted and streamlined - making it much easier for potential families to find and learn about your program. Your ECC will have more room to build out a main menu navigation and to organize it with content as needed.
Cons: The creation of a unique website may initially seem like a great idea, but it is not a perfect option. Consider the role your ECC plays within the larger synagogue community. Branding and marketing of a separate ECC site may be too distinctive and removed from that of the main synagogue website. This option is also more costly and will require someone within the ECC or synagogue to take the lead on regularly populating the site with content.
Early Childhood Centers are an incredibly important part of many synagogues. Next week we will share information on a third option - the creation of a distinctive sub-theme or mini-website within the larger synagogue website. This approach offers many of the benefits of a separate website, but with less cost and a more seamless experience for your supporters. Stay tuned!