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A good question to keep in mind when you are working on your site is “Who is this for?”. This can help you decide if something is appropriate on your site or where it might be most appropriate. Generally, the following is a good hierarchy to keep in mind:
Your front page should be a well thought out presentation to those that are not familiar with your school. This is your chance to look good to those that might be moving from out of town (or across town) and are interested in learning more about you. Your front page IS your first impression.
Community Members without Students
There will be those that live in the neighborhood you serve but don’t have students that may want to know what’s going on. Perhaps they want to know about academics in your school. Maybe they want to know about any activities that might interest them. Your site should not be so focused on talking to parents and students that they already feel unwelcome before getting past the front page.
Parents and Students
When we get to these groups, we are talking about communities that you already have a relationship with. It’s easy to tell these folks (“Look on our parents page”, or “Check out the Scholar Station” ). Creating unique pages on your site for these unique groups allows you to provide a LOT of information for them in one place without falling into the “Put it on the front page” trap.
Once you have a front page that serves as a great first impression for the first two groups, it should take a lot of thought to edit it further. Consider how you can serve all of your audiences better by giving them unique experiences rather than trying to serve them all in one place.
Since the 2010-2011 academic year, school sites have been asked to have the following elements on their front page:
We encourage schools to position their sites toward an audience that is unfamiliar with their community and use the font page as a way to welcome these individuals to your school and introduce them to the wonderful aspects of your environment. Smaller sections of the front page can still be used to highlight current announcements and secondary pages can be focused on specific audiences such as parents to serve them better.
While High Schools should still have very easy access to basic school information and a contact form on the front page, a principal letter and photo can be placed on a separate Principal’s page if that is preferred.
There is no typical situation. We have principals, office staff, SEMs and teachers serving as primary site editors throughout the district. This is determined by who a school has on staff that may be interested in maintaining the site and who the principal feels has the ability to fit it into their other daily duties. It is recommended that the school website be maintained in the office as the school website is really an extension of the school office. School websites are best when they provide information that would otherwise require a call to the office (When is that event? What do we need to bring? How much does it cost? Who teaches there? Where can I find your building?). Since these are the questions that are regularly answered by the office staff, they tend to be most in tune with what would be helpful to have online.
The basic school information is already part of your template. The principal name and email address along with school street address and phone numbers can be found in the mega-footer at the bottom of each page on the site.
You are certainly free to place a photo/letter on your site yourself if you have the expertise on site to do it, but you can certainly ask to have it done as well. Simply email your new letter and/or photo to Brian Fitzgerald (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Please contact Cynthia Wehland-Falk (email@example.com), our district photographer and she can either coordinate a time with you to get a photograph or tell you of an upcoming time when several folks might be getting photographed.
Published January 5, 2017