Hudson School District's new website receiving positive reviews amid soft launch

by Tim Troglen | reporter Published:

Hudson -- Visitors to Hudson School district's website May 28 may have been surprised.

That's when the former www.hudson.edu site, with its static bright blue Explorer background, was changed to a more user-friendly, interactive www.hudson.k12.oh.us site.

Since the May 28 soft launch, the district has received positive feedback from parents, students and community members, according to Hudson Communications Manager Sheryl Sheatzley.

"We are receiving positive comments about how clean the site presents information," Sheatzley said June 9. "Also, we are capitalizing on excellent imagery, both photo and video, to help tell the district's story."

The site, two years in the making, was a team effort involving the district, parents, school organization and staff members who each had input into vendor selection and features offered at the site.

"In addition, we consulted with Jason Parry, an alumni and highly successful west coast web designer for ideas about the site design," Sheatzley added. "Each member of the staff has received training and are rapidly building student and parent content on their new teacher pages."

The district paid $30,000 for the site, which included a one-time $13,500 start up fee and seven-site fee licenses totalling $16,900, according to the district.

The district's "Web Core Team" has met regularly since December to discuss issues and prepare for a full August launch.

The website vendor, Schoolwires, "is a major player in K-12 web design and content management," according to Sheatzley.

"They have been fantastic in providing us with their framework, training, and knowledge of the market," Sheatzley added.

The site also contains a variety of photographs from several sources.

"We have two wonderful community members, Ken Klemencic and John Slater, who are contributing professional photographers," according to Sheatzley. "Slater also graciously allowed us to use one of his photo images in the banner design. This is in addition to our own high school photo teacher, Tim Naujoks."

Additions to the site include video from each building, which is accessible by clicking on the "V" at the top of the site banner. The soft launch is an opportunity for visitors to familiarize themselves with the site while additional content, like teacher pages, are being built, according to the district. The official launch will be Aug. 20.

Visitors can access the site and features without signing in. However, parents and students must sign in to the home access center to view student information.

After the full launch, parents will access information differently than what they may be accustomed to, according to the district. On the old site, e-subscribes were sent daily which may have repeated the same list of activities or information. The new site includes daily announcements, news and upcoming activities as separate features.

"The building calendars will provide a wealth of information about what is going on in the buildings and district," Sheatzley said. "Parents can connect their calendars using iCalendar and have the information available at their fingertips."

The district will ask parents to visit the site for information updates more consistently; however, they also will receive alerts when major changes are posted.

There have been some questions from parents about site navigation, Sheatzley said.

"We are very willing to help anyone who needs information," she added. "The most confusion seems to be about signing-in. Parents and students do not have to sign-in to use the site. They do have to sign-in to use the Home Access Center, which is the student grade book and other student information."

The district also has been able to tweak any issues as they are found, Sheatzley said.

"So far, we have been able to make the changes needed with little or no difficulty," Sheatzley added. "There are still some major steps to be taken over the summer. We will be building our new e-subscribe system, now called Broadcast alerts and Page Alerts."

The site can accommodate a variety of devices and will collapse the view to fit the device size, which may take some getting used to because the information collapses and stacks as the device formats become smaller, especially on a cell phone. The district will provide additional instructions on accessing the website and usage from a mobile phone.

By the second semester parents will be able to use other features, such as "My View," which is a sign-in feature allowing visitors to create a dashboard of their most commonly visited/used site locations with a single sign-in.

"We would encourage people to visit the site and click on each feature to help familiarize themselves with the site navigation," Sheatzley said. "Instructions are available on the district main page and the building pages under featured news."

Email: ttroglen@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9435

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