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I currently manage a website for a large(ish) primary school. I'm in the process of rebuilding their website, and have had a thought today about how to potentially better organise the content.

We currently have a Joomla site running at myprimary.com, and most of the content and menu items are specifically related to the primary school. However, there are two menu items ("Nursery" and "After School Club") that I feel would do better with their own Joomla sites as they are technically separate organisations that are just closely related to the school (and also share the premises).

What I'm thinking of doing involves using 3 subdomains:

  • school.myprimary.com
  • nursery.myprimary.com
  • club.myprimary.com

I would then use myprimary.com as a landing page. In theory this page could display a menu for each of the subdomains, but ideally I'd like it to just redirect to school.myprimary.com. This would allow people to carry on using the domain in the same way as they have been doing in the past, and I would expect that the majority of visitors will be aiming for the actual school information. Each subdomain would contain links to the other two sites in a kind of "Visit our Other Sites" kind of a fashion, and would be visibly similar to each other whilst retaining elemenets of individuality (colour schemes, etc).

Another benefit of doing this is that if school is closed due to snow, I can switch to serving a completely static html page from myprimary.com explaining the situation, alleviating some of the strain caused by thousands of visits within a very short timeframe on days when the weather is questionable.

A separate point to note is that we currently use a CNAME record to handle the www subdomain. Whilst I don't see this causing a problem with the landing page, we may have to train people to not try and use www.nursery.myprimary.com.

Is this approach something that makes sense, both in terms of SEO and usability? Or should i just ditch this idea now before I get stuck into it?

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Whether or not you use a static page or a redirect on the home page, you will want to ensure that all deeper pages get redirected appropriately:

  • example.com/staff -> school.example.com/staff
  • example.com/campus -> school.example.com/campus
  • etc.

If you redirect the home page, I would expect that most people would not bookmark it. If example.com redirected to school.example.com, my browser would only allow me to bookmark school.example.com easily. Even with a menu page there, I'd probably bookmark the page for the school my kids actually attend. Your plan for publishing static info on that page during a snow storm may not actually get many people looking at that page. I wish that schools typically put such important news into their header template so that it shows up on each and every page of the site. I've gotten frustrated trying to dig around my school's website trying to figure out where the closing info is actually posted.

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