Three observations about quality school district websites

This morning I spent a few hours looking at the websites of the relatively large school districts. These are my thoughts and observations after looking at it from a parent’s point of view.

Make it clear!
Good sites make it easy for parents to find the latest and most relevant information.

Parents don’t have to dig through a variety of name menus to find the information they need about your school. I visited a district website this morning to try to find a school calendar for next fall. There was no tab or menu anywhere on the homepage labeled “Calendar” or “Schedule”. The school calendar is only available if you click on a tab labeled “Menu” then scroll down to the fourth submenu labeled “Calendar”. Information about school board members, human resources information for staff, and an old 2015-2020 strategic plan were all listed more than the school year calendar.

What does this say about your district when parents have to dig up vaguely named menus to find basic information about their child’s school day?

Social media is not a substitute for a good website

Posting on social media is not a substitute for having a well-designed and frequently updated school / school district website.

The best sites I’ve seen include embedded streams of district / school social media postings. They do this because they acknowledge that not every parent or student uses social media. In addition, when you rely on social media, you expect parents and students to follow your accounts. And even if they follow your accounts, you should expect your postings to be different from all the other updates that parents and students see from other accounts that follow them.

Who is running the website?
The best websites I saw this morning were from the school district whose staff includes someone whose job title includes communications director or public relations. The bad ones seem to have been run almost as a thought or low priority task in the IT department.

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