When Rowan-Salisbury came to Finalsite back in 2017, they wanted to take control of their brand and communications. The district’s leadership valued (and still does!) having a platform that makes it easy to recruit new faculty, entice families to move to the area, while keeping current families in the loop.
Since the redesign, the district has won an award for their website and seen a significant increase in website traffic — and they have the data to back it up.
Simplified Admin Onboarding
One of the major obstacles public schools of all sizes face is onboarding. How do you get (often non tech-savvy) webmasters to learn — and even get excited about — a new software?
“As I train people now, they are naturally intimidated — but that’s the stigma of technology,” said Corey McNeill, the district's lead teacher of instructional technology. “But, when I show them the different types of elements available in Composer (Finalsite's CMS) and how to use them, they realize that it’s very simple.”
“With Finalsite, onboarding a new employee takes about 60-90 minutes, and then they’re good to go,” said Corey.
Prior to using Finalsite Corey says that trying to update content on key pages, like staff directories or news, was cumbersome. As a large district with a separate website admin for each of the 30+ schools, good support and ease of use is important.
“The platform is so easy to use — there really isn’t anything I can’t do. And when I can’t figure it out, I can contact support who gets back to me quickly.”
Increased Website Traffic and an Improved User Experience
Before Rowan-Salisbury redesigned, they were seeing about 59,000 visits each month — a solid number for this large district in North carolina. Fast forward to 2019, the district’s website visits are up by 8,000 a month — and that’s not all. The website visits are most successful, with lower bounce rates, more time spent on pages, and more traffic to very important pages like school calendars and faculty recruitment.
In a year-over-year comparison, Rowan-Salisbury School System saw their bounce rate decrease from 66.7% to 28.92%. This means that even with more people visiting the site, more people are staying on the site.
They also saw a 52% increase in overall website traffic and a 54% increase in unique website traffic. But some of the most compelling data comes from the individual pages themselves.
The district’s “Work for Us” section now accounts for almost 4% of the entire district’s website traffic. This page actually had a 160% increase in traffic from search, with an 8% increase in session duration and a 13% decrease in bounce rate.
In addition, the district saw the following incredible website traffic increases:
|"Work for Us"
|Individual School Page 1
|Individual School Page 2
What does all this data mean exactly?
- The new site is optimized to perform well in Google, to increase website traffic without costing the district a dime
- Prospective faculty are spending more time on the "work for us" web page
- Prospective families are also spending time perusing the Rowan-Salisbury website, rather than coming to the page and then leaving
“The selling point for us on Finalsite wasn’t that we could improve our metrics. That’s just a bonus. Rather, it was the quality of the work that goes into our website to make it unique,” said Corey.
An Inspiring Website that Tells a Unique Story
According to their website, “there’s an adventure for everyone in Rowan County, North Carolina”: a sentiment that their website aims to show. Corey and the team at Rowan-Salisbury School System know that the role of a district website isn’t just to share lunch menus and directory information. It’s a way to share their story, attract families to the county, and recruit top faculty. For that, they needed more than another cookie-cutter website. They needed something as unique as their district.
“Everything available from other website providers looks the same. The appeal of having something that was unique to our district was the case for us. And now, we definitely have one of the best websites in North Carolina — and we love that it is easy to adapt to the community we’re serving,” said Corey.