Pedleyonine have been swotting up on school websites as we return to high school for the first time in 25 years (yikes!)
Academy Trust School, Studley High, based in Warwickshire has a brand new website providing a valuable resource for pupils, parents, teachers and governors. The website also provides information useful for Ofsted and for parents of prospective pupils.
The main requirement was something they could update themselves, keeping the site alive and current. With such a huge amount of content, over 80 pages in total, plus a large number of downloadable documents the organisation and navigation of the site was also a key requirement and presented a challenge.
Other objectives included accessibility, implementation of an events calendar, latest news and a secure area for the governors of the school. There was quite a list of requirements and in some cases they were things that were new to us so we had to do our homework…
The school website uses the school’s colours and branding and has a very traditional feel. Branding guidelines and photography were provided by the school for use on the site and they worked in partnership with us providing website content and guidance and feedback to our proposals for layout and organisation.
The site has been built using WordPress which means that almost all areas can be updated by the school themselves. Main areas for update will be the events calendar, latest news, photo galleries, updates and additions to pdf documents. Although we envisage these will be the most active areas of the site, the text on all pages is editable. The site is completely expandable and WordPress offers great flexibility in terms of adding new content and new and improved functionality as required.
The layout comprises of a horizontal navigation menu with further navigation achieved across four panels on each of the key pages: Home, School Info, News and Events, Curriculum, Parents, Contact. As well as navigation to bottom level content via on-page panels there is also, in most cases a vertical contextual menu at this interim level and also accompanying bottom level content. The website has a footer which contains a graphical link to the school prospectus and varying content, internal links and external links appropriate to the page being viewed. For quick access to content using keywords, there’s a handy search facility.
The secure online contact form is accompanied by a map showing location, full contact details and contact procedures.
The events calendar is featured in several key places on the site with each event drilling down to it’s own page where it’s possible to include detailed information such at times, location, descriptive text, documents to download for example an agenda for a meeting. It’s also possible to include links to other content or external sites.
The photo gallery is excellent for sharing photos of school events such as trips, school prom, opening evenings, events and achievements. Photos can be uploaded into individual galleries, incorporated into or linked to latest news items. Photos are displayed as thumbnails but open to a larger size on screen in a lightbox style. They can also have labels describing what they show.
The latest news is in the style of a blog with entries in chronological order. Posts may contain images with the featured image showing alongside a text snippet preview. The latest news item is shown on the homepage along with latest events from the events calendar.
The homepage has a ticker tape running underneath the changing image banner which links to student resources like My Big Campus, the school prospectus and it provides the opportunity to feature a thought for the day or an advert or reminder for something happening in school.
A large number of documents and resources may be accessed from the site. Documents such as the School Prospectus, newsletters, and policies can all be viewed, downloaded, printed from the site giving the option to take information away for reference.
External links to resources such as ParentPay, Parent View, My Big Campus and links to Twitter have also been included.
The Governors section of the site has been password protected enabling them to share information in a secure environment.
Administration of the site will be by a small number of nominated individuals at the school who will be given administrator access via a log-on and password. Training is scheduled for September and we’ll be on-hand to support them with early changes.
The use of pdf documents was favoured over alternative formats as this provides the best chance of compatibility for ipads and mobile devices. In the near future the school may consider working with us to develop a simplified version of the site to improve the experience when viewed on a mobile phone.
This has been a huge challenge for us but also a very satisfying and successful project – a real education!