Here is an excerpt from a recent case study tracking one school district's path to a new website. Communication challenges, the CMS/website provider selection process and other factors are outlined here. For the full story, go to the case study.
When Dave Porreca joined Elmwood Park, District 401 in 2016 as the district’s new web/media specialist, one of his first assignments he took on was to evaluate and audit the district’s web communications.
Along with his new job – a newly created position in the district – came a fresh perspective and a realization that major changes and a new communications direction were in store for the D401 school community.
With no single person ultimately responsible for the district’s six websites, D401 needed a full assessment of the existing sites before moving forward with the likely solution of a new website provider and content management system (CMS).
Taking charge of school website content
Porreca’s evaluation found, besides no one person assuming leadership for the websites, the six sites were woefully absent of content. So, besides implementing a new process for managing the district’s web presence, Porreca was convinced that someone needed to take charge of the websites.
“We all agreed that the old website was not in good shape,” said Porreca, a former journalist and educator. “It was unwieldy and not very intuitive,” he said. Porreca “Spent an entire afternoon writing a series of questions” to help ascertain what was lacking and what was needed in their new website.
“Being so thin on content, we knew we needed to beef up the amount of information on the site,” said Porreca. Finding content and organizing the content, soon proved to be two additional major challenges for the district.”
The D401 team looked at what some of the area’s top districts were doing with their websites. After about a month of research, they learned what was good about their fellow schools’ websites, who the website providers were for those schools, and quickly narrowed the list to three possible vendors – one of which being Campus Suite.
The search team at D401 selected Campus Suite to help them transform the district’s web presence. “We found Campus Suite to be pretty much the authority on web technology, so the choice was clear.”
Building a brand
The timing for D401’s new website coincided with the launch of Campus Suite’s newest platform, which includes dozens of customizable ADA-compliant themes to choose from and a mobile-first approach that ensures a school’s website looks great and is easy to navigate on phones and tablets. The Campus Suite solution features easy editing tools that any authorized school personnel can use to quickly create, edit and publish web pages.
“After choosing the theme we wanted to modify it to suit our needs. We also tapped Campus Suite to help us with a new district logo,” said Porreca. “A website is so critical to a school’s identity. It’s so visual,” he added. “Our website serves as a branding foundation for all our online communications.”
Porreca said his team was looking for – and found in Campus Suite – an “Intuitive CMS and a company that provided good tech support, was reachable, and had a really solid knowledge base (FAQs, tutorials).”
Managing ADA compliance and improving engagements
Following a thorough examination of where their website needed to be and a diligent assessment of the solutions available, the District 401 Elmwood Park School district partnered with Campus Suite to help achieve:
- A web communications foundation in the form of six well-organized, and easy-to-navigate websites that were planned, designed and launched in a matter of months;
- ADA-compliant, mobile-friendly websites that are fully accessible to D401’s school community members with physical and cognitive disabilities;
- A new brand that reflects the culture and excellence of the school district, providing an easy-to-manage vehicle to tell the stories that define D401;
- An employee intranet that speeds and facilitates information and services for the district’s staff and faculty
Read the full case study to see how a school district built a digital communication foundation with a great website.
Marketing director and content strategist for Campus Suite, Jay’s a former school public relations specialist who’s helped businesses, schools and colleges use the power of web communications to improve their image, generate support, and optimize relationships. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him @jay4schools.