Ease of Use

use of use




St. Albert Public Schools
the SPS homepage tiled to create a banner.


SPS wanted websites that reflected their professionalism and leadership while staying warm and inviting to the growing community. But any website is only as good as its user experience: SPS needed websites that were easier for staff to maintain.

Rally’s Intuitive CMS Empowers SPS

We launched our new sites in the summer of 2023 and have already received so much positive feedback from our school web administrators and our users. Rally’s design, user-friendly content management system (CMS) and staff support have made the transition extremely easy. The team at Rally listened to what we wanted and brought our vision to life, and we now have websites that look fresh, modern and inviting, and are so much easier to work with. 

- Paula Power, Manager, Communication Services, St. Albert Public Schools

The Challenge

St. Albert Public Schools (SPS) knew it was time to look for a new website provider. Their division has been growing in previous years, with record kindergarten enrollment year after year. As one of the largest employers in their community, SPS wanted websites that reflected their professionalism and leadership while staying warm and inviting to the growing community. But any website is only as good as its user experience: SPS needed websites that were easier for staff to maintain.

Paula Power, SPS’s Manager of Communication Services, shared, “We wanted modern and innovative sites, and we absolutely did not want to look like other school division sites. We wanted our websites to stand out and be a true reflection of our school division – welcoming, knowledgeable, leading edge, professional and accessible.”

It’s not uncommon for school divisions to use a pre-designed template for their division website, but Paula and her team wanted a custom design that would allow the heart of SPS schools to shine: the kids. More than that, SPS wanted their school website to stand out too - a single template, designed just for SPS’s schools, that would keep the websites on brand, while allowing for some customization.

The old SPS website. Expand Image
The old SPS website.

“We needed a more user-friendly CMS,” Paula added. “The CMS on our previous sites was not intuitive or user-friendly, and as a result many of our school web administrators did not use the sites and features to their full potential, and our central communications team spent many hours providing support to the school teams. There was much frustration, many attempts to find work-arounds, and too much time being spent on what should have been simple updates.”

SPS also wanted to empower their staff with an easy-to-use CMS. Their old websites were difficult to navigate through, and even required school webmasters to add HTML code to format text! For employee-only pages, sometimes the system would just not work, causing many staff to give up on accessing these pages and the resources they contained. They needed a more intuitive system that both their community and staff could rely on. A CMS that prioritized end-user experience would make it easier for staff to use their school websites, access resources, and save Paula and her team a lot of time!

The Solution

The first step was narrowing down the submissions for SPS’s Request for Proposals. “We received many proposals from companies in Canada and the United States,” Paula said. “When evaluating these proposals, Rally rose to the top almost immediately. They answered all the questions and addressed all the requirements in the RFP thoughtfully and thoroughly. We had seen Rally’s work with other school divisions and knew they could provide us with a user-friendly, easy-to-update, innovative and striking website.”

The list of SPS's programs, with search and filter options. Expand Image
It's easy to browse, search and filter through the 19 different programs SPS offers!

We started with a demo, to show the full capabilities and simplicity of the Rally CMS: “We shared our vision, and they shared ideas and features we hadn’t even considered.” Rally is purpose-built for school divisions, and we work closely with our partners to develop our roadmap, ensuring we’re always adding new features. Consequently, our CMS is loaded with off the shelf features to centralize school division information. Our professional designers keep an eye on the latest trends and best practices, ensuring that our websites not only look great, but are easy for parents to use.

After the demo, we were able to get started on a truly unique project. “We were excited as the revamp got underway, and we were not disappointed when they presented us with the first designs. Very few adjustments were required as they worked on the final product. They were always open to our questions and willing to accommodate our change requests.” SPS had a clear vision of what they wanted to help their division shine online. Our design team was more than happy to build not just a custom division website, but also a school website template that would help SPS share the information their community needs.

The Bellerose website, which shares the three banner images at the top with the district website.
SPS's custom school template is easily recognizable.

The school template includes three tiles that can be customized with an image, call to action, and button to help direct parents to timely resources and information. SPS can add and edit these tiles centrally from the division website. The schools can add and customize their tiles, creating a nice complement of school and division messaging. The school template is modern and playful, but still clean and professional, creating the perfect balance for SPS. 

When it came to staff user experience, Rally already had that covered. Our CMS is designed to empower even non-technical staff to add and update content, and we take great pride in our intuitive interface. To ensure staff were fully prepared and confident, we provided SPS with training sessions to help staff learn the basics and best practices. Additionally, Rally offers direct user support, so if anyone does have a question, they reach out to our support team, instead of Paula’s team.

The secure section of the SPS website, where staff can login.
Staff sign into the secure staff-only section using single-sign-on.

“Our login process on our old sites for staff to access the staff-only pages was cumbersome,” Paula recalls, “and often randomly did not work and required a ‘reset.’ Many staff gave up and didn’t try to access these pages, even though they contained important information. On the new Rally sites, the login is one click, and we’ve heard of no issues with people being able to login. This was a critical area that we wanted to address as we needed to ensure all staff could login easily and consistently.” Having websites that were reliable and behaved consistently helped staff access the internal resources they needed.

The Result

When evaluating our new websites, in terms of the goals we had set at the beginning of the project,” Paula said,”we are pleased to say that we have met and exceeded them! Rally created websites that capture the overall look and feel we were after. Our users can find information easily, the websites give us the opportunity to highlight different areas of importance, and they are unique to our division.”

The custom websites for SPS are stunning. More importantly, all the websites share similar elements, making the different division and school websites feel cohesive. At a glance, it’s easy to see that these websites are part of a family. From the consistent menu, to the front page layout, these websites showcase SPS’s leadership, innovation, and welcoming community.

“We have received many comments from our school web administrators about how much easier these sites are to navigate and update,” Paula shared. “As a result, the schools are updating them more often and using them more effectively.”

At Rally, we want school divisions to have a web presence they can be proud of. A website can have a brilliant design, but if no one knows how to maintain it, it’s not keeping communities engaged and informed. That’s why ease of use is so important to us: if anyone can add and update content, then those websites will get so much more traction. It’s easier to build trust with parents and communicate effectively. 

Rally also provides direct user support. We develop our CMS in-house; we know all the ins and outs, so we’re happy to help anyone who has a question. “Our central communications team has spent considerably less time providing support to the schools,” Paula confirms. With Rally taking on the support, it gives the SPS team time to focus on other division initiatives and projects.

the new SPS website, Expand Image
The new SPS website.
The HR page on the SPS website, which has information on the application process and careers.

Since Then

At Rally, we consider ourselves a digital partner for school divisions. We don’t want to launch a website for someone, then never hear from them again. We’re always adding new digital tools to help school divisions better engage their communities. “We are currently working on rolling out two new modules,” Paula said, “the Jobs module and the Board Documents module.”

These modules add on to the Rally CMS. With the Jobs module, the division can post job descriptions, receive, and evaluate applications all within the CMS. The Board Documents module makes it easy to share school board policies, procedures, and meeting documents with the school community.  Not only are these documents fully searchable on the website, but the version history is kept securely within the CMS for internal reference.

“We are also transitioning to the bookings module for parent-teacher interviews throughout this year and are looking forward to seeing the new features of that module when it’s updated in the summer of 2024,” Paula adds. (The updates, based on feedback from our partners, will improve the user experience of the module.) “We appreciate the integration of these modules and the ‘one-stop shopping’ our users will experience as a result.”