The Ultimate Guide to Successful K-12 School District Website Redesign

So you’re redesigning your school district websites, and now you’re looking at starting what feels like a massive project. Don’t worry - when you hire a website provider, you’re hiring an expert in project management. Your website provider should have a plan to guide you through the project. Rally’s been developing websites for school districts since 2005: we understand the unique challenges and opportunities school districts face when looking to redesign their websites. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when looking at all changes involved, but we’ve put together a strategy to help you – and your leadership team – successfully prepare for a website redesign. Whether you’re looking to hire a new website provider or have just signed on with one, this guide highlights how you can make the most of a provider’s expertise and ensure you’re getting websites tailored to your district’s needs.

Involve Stakeholders

Connect with Content Editors

Chances are you have many website editors in your school district. Reach out to your school content editors and get their insights. You don’t have to involve them every step of the way, but asking what they struggle with, what features they’d like to have, or if there’s something they’d like changed can give you a great start for feedback to present to your provider. You can send out a survey to help identify pain points, frustrations, and areas where the current website falls short. This feedback is a great way to learn more about how content editors interact with the back end of the website, rather than the public facing websites. The results will highlight any issues these editors face with using the websites on a regular basis and can build a strong case for needing a more user-friendly content management system (CMS). Including content editors at the beginning of the project helps get them excited about the change and helps them feel heard and valued by your district.

Who Needs to Sign Off?

Identifying the right stakeholders is crucial for a successful redesign. We suggest forming a small website committee that has the power to make decisions about the project. Include representation from district leadership and your Communications and Technology departments so everyone is heard. If you want to consult other stakeholders (staff, parents, students) do that before the project begins and empower your committee to carry that feedback into the project.

The number one cause of website project delays and added costs is that leadership is not involved at all in the planning and design of the project, then they step in and override decisions made by your committee after the work is done. Ensure that your leadership is involved from the beginning to prevent unnecessary delays (or going over budget).

Establish a Base Knowledge

Not all committee members may be regular users of the website. Bring them up to speed on what to expect, their time commitment, and what kind of contribution they need to make. They have to understand the project steps, its objectives, and scope. Your website provider should provide clear steps about the process, so ensure you’re sharing this information with your website committee so they know what to expect and how they can contribute.

Lay out the reasons for the redesign: what problems exist in the current websites and how will those be fixed with the redesign? Most importantly, ensure they understand what’s being changed and what’s not: are you moving to an entirely new content management system or just changing the layout of your existing website? Are you having new features built for your district or using out-of-the-box solutions? Understanding the full scope of the project helps keep committee members on task, while having them consider the best ways to leverage the full potential of the website. 

Planning for the New Website