Website transition in 2014

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District 49's approved design concept for D49.org

Falcon School District 49’s website, located at D49.org, will receive an upgrade during the 2014 summer break. During the 2013-2014 school year, the district’s communications team invested considerable time reviewing community feedback, while exploring options with various web developers. During the second half of the year, the district entered an agreement with Schoolwires.

The SchoolWires Centricity2 platform offers impressive functionality and user-customizable content[1]. There are numerous calendar options that make creating and sharing events much easier. Ahead of the 2014-2015 school year, District 49 will launch a new website experience that’s innovative, personalized and responsive.

On April 4, a final design was approved, along with four breaking points for adapting to mobile devices. Coding of the new template is scheduled for completion in early June, while content is compiled and features are configured using a test site. The public launch is scheduled for July 1, and extensive training will be offered to school-based webmasters prior to the 2014-2015 school year starting. After the migration is complete, each school will continue to manage its own site's content.

Custom Design for District's Community

The new website was designed with the goal of upgrading the existing site with a 21st century feel. The district's use of primary and secondary colors is preserved. A drop down menu above the district logo will allow quick access to any school website. A status icon was integrated into the website to indicate "Normal Schedule" (green), "Delayed Schedule" (yellow) and "Closed" (red) during inclement weather. Global icons include links to the Digital Backpack, Falcon Insider email newsletter, district news blog and career opportunities. Selecting the single-click sign on link, called "My Passkeys", will allow logged in visitors to automatically authenticate their sessions on other popular websites, such as Schoology and InfiniteCampus. Below a large image slider with news headlines and leads, an accordion slider will contain links to content of current interest, as well as content of interest to specific website visitor groups. The website will continue to allow local businesses to purchase banner space via the district's CAN partnership.

The district's communications team considered numerous concerns with the district’s current website design and functionality, as explained by stakeholders in recent surveys. For example, survey responses have suggested information is often difficult to locate or share. There’s a lack of consistency between school websites, which is causing parent confusions. Staff accounts must be created manually, rather than automatically using internal directories and credentials. Parents are unable to login and manage their experience. All these issues, and many more, will be resolved. The new platform will enhance school-to-home communications, collaborative learning, mobile communications, community outreach programs, brand consistency, third party system integration, and much more.[2]

Responsive Design for Mobile Devices

During the first semester of the 2013-2014 school year in District 49, roughly 30 percent of D49.org’s website visitors used a browser on a mobile device. Globally, this year, mobile Internet use is expected to match desktop use,[3] and then quickly exceed it.[4] District 49’s new templates will dynamically adapt each of the district’s websites for various screen sizes, as well as the touch-based navigation expected with mobile devices. The breaking points start at 768 pixels, and continue at 640, 480 and 320. Each shift in design will include an option to "View Full Site," which returns the website to its full resolution format, regardless of the accessing device's screen size.

Standardized Navigation

The new website will provide increased website consistency from elementary to high school, while ensuring suitable grade-level content is quickly accessible. Throughout each student’s academic career, website navigation will strive to remain more predictable for parents. Households with multiple enrollments spanning two or more schools will find it easier to locate information. As each child graduates from elementary to middle school, and then middle to high school, the website will strive to ensure his or her parents continue to find the information that’s most important to their family. The following table contains the latest navigation scheme (as of April 8, 2014).

District Elementary School Middle School High School
  1. About
  2. Our Schools
  3. In the Classroom
  4. Beyond the Classroom
  5. Parents and Community
  • Trending Links
*Updated As Needed
  • Parents and Students
  • Future Families
  • Community Members
  • District Employees
  1. Principal
  2. School Info
  3. Curriculum
  4. Extracurricular
  5. Parent Resources
  • Quick Links
*School's Top Pages
  1. Principal
  2. School Info
  3. Curriculum
  4. Extracurricular
  5. Parent Resources
  • Quick Links
*School's Top Pages
  1. Principal
  2. School Info
  3. Curriculum
  4. Extracurricular
  5. Parent Resources
  • Quick Links
*School's Top Pages

With the new website, school pages will reside in directories using school abbreviations, rather than subdomains. In other words, Falcon High School is now located at falconhigh.d49.org, but may move to d49.org/FHS. Using domain name server settings, traffic can be automatically rerouted from the prior subdomains for a year or more, allowing enough time for homepage links in printed documents to get updated.

Logo Refresh

As part of the website development process, District 49’s logo will also get refreshed.

References

  1. "Centricity2". SchoolWires. Retrieved April 4, 2014. 
  2. "Centricity2™ website and content management system". SchoolWires. Retrieved April 4, 2014. 
  3. "ComScore: Mobile Will Force Desktop Into Its Twilight In 2014". Business Insider. Retrieved April 4, 2014. 
  4. "New Study Shows the Mobile Web Will Rule by 2015 [STATS]". Mashable. Retrieved April 4, 2014.