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Change Management: Preparing Staff for a New District Website
Connor Gleason

Change is tough, but it feels 100x more challenging in education. Schools are bustling communities where tradition meets innovation, and every decision impacts hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. 

As you set your sights on creating a new website for your district, you’re beginning a process that asks your community to rethink how they connect, communicate, and share its school's story with the world. The journey requires you to bring everyone along—staff, students, and parents alike.

Navigating this change will affect your staff, and with the end goal of creating the best school website possible, you’ll want to plan, design, and launch your site with minimal disruption to school employees.

Sharing the Need and Visision for a New Website

For the staff, a new site means less time fighting with a difficult website and more time doing what they do best: teaching and helping students, communicating with parents, and attracting prospective families and staff.

You’ll want to communicate these benefits to your team members and help them understand the value of the investment, such as:

  • Better representation of your school’s brand and mission
  • Easily access resources
  • Modern website design
  • Easier to keep updated
  • Better tools for communication
  • More training and support
  • Healthier enrollment
  • Attract a more talented and qualified talent pool

As shared in a news story, Westminster Public Schools outlined the benefits of its new site, including, "help(ing) to capture the spirit and energy of what goes on inside a school,” said Superintendent Pam Swanson. “Our schools are made up of fun, creative teachers and students and now our web sites better reflect that.”

wps new site story

Communicating Your Website Plans Pre-Launch

This project will affect all employees: teachers, staff, administrators, and school leadership. It's important to communicate your plans and how it will affect them.

Discuss what's happening, why it's happening, what to expect, and when to expect the changes. Talking clearly and openly about the new website helps in a few ways:

  • Builds Excitement: When people know what's happening and see the amazing new things the website will do, they'll be excited.
  • Reduces Worry: Change can make people nervous. Remember that knowledge is power, and sharing information and answering questions can make everyone feel more comfortable. 
  • Encourages Participation: When staff feel they are part of the process, they're more likely to share good ideas and feedback.

Share Updates Regularly

Keeping everyone in the loop is key. This could mean sending out a monthly email, putting a notice in the school newsletter, having a special section on the current website, or posting on social media like Chappaqua Public Schools did to keep followers engaged and excited about the changes.

Use Multiple Channels to Communicate

Not everyone gets their information the same way. Some prefer email, and others might not listen to announcements at a staff meeting. By sharing information about the new website in different ways, you can make sure more people understand what's happening and what they need to do.

ACP site announcement on iphone mockup

Alexandria City Public Schools kept its community in the loop with updates about its planned website in its newsletters, stating: “This vital platform will help us share ACPS stories in multimedia formats to highlight our students, staff, and programs. More staff can easily make basic updates in order to keep information current. The redesign launch will be followed later this fall with a comprehensive staff intranet on the new website platform that will serve as a hub for internal information, forms, and Human Resources updates.”

Encourage Open Feedback and Have a Clear Process for Addressing Concerns

People will have questions. They might wonder how the new website will affect their daily tasks or if they will need to learn a lot of new systems. Offer a way for them to ask these questions and give them clear, helpful answers with a form for questions or dedicate a part of staff meetings where people can ask questions and get answers right away.

Have a FAQ Section About the New Website

Think of every question someone might have about the new website and put the answers all in one place. Tigard-Tualatin School District took this proactive approach with its FAQ section and answered questions about the location of new pages and commonly accessed links.

new site screenshot

Your questions can be as simple as, "When will the new website be ready?" or “Why are redesigning or rebranding the website?” Or they can be more specific, like "How do I find the school calendar on the new website?"

Pro Tip: If you’re holding a Zoom meeting to answer questions about the news site, record it and share it afterward with employees who couldn’t attend live.

Involving Your Staff in the Redesign Process

Everyone uses the school website a bit differently. Coaches might need it for sharing game information, while office staff might use it more for event planning and announcements.

By getting everyone's input, the new website can meet a wider range of needs. With more involvement, it:

  • Increases Buy-in: When people have a say in something, they're more likely to support it and be excited about it.
  • Improves the Final Product: With more ideas and feedback, the new website can be better suited to what the school actually needs.
  • Builds a Sense of Community: Working together on the website project can help staff feel more connected to each other and to the school. It's a shared project that everyone can be proud of.

Kyrene School District knows a successful website launch is a team effort, with everyone playing a part in making it a success.

Kyrene District working on redesign

Remember, everyone from teachers to office staff can have great ideas and feedback, but it doesn’t mean they get to make the decisions — leave that to your school’s marketing and communications professionals.

Keep Reading: Help! There Are Too Many People Involved in My School Website's Redesign!

Surveys to Gather Feedback

One of the first steps can be sending out a survey to staff members asking questions like what they like and don't like about the current web design, what new features they think would be helpful, and any other ideas they have for the new site, just like Richland School District 2 did during its redesign.

Richland park 2 form

You’ll want to meet separately with major departments like the PTO, and school leadership to gain their insights, but this way, everyone's voice gets heard, and it can bring up some good points that might not have been thought of before.

Keep Reading: Questions to Ask Stakeholders Before a Website Redesign

Regular Updates on Progress

As the new website takes shape, sharing updates keeps everyone in the loop and helps maintain interest in the project. This can be done through emails, a section in the staff newsletter, or quick updates at staff meetings.

These updates can include things like screenshots of the new design, explanations of new features, or just a general progress report as you approach your launch date.

Training and Support for Website Admins and Contributors

You’ll likely have other users and web administrators access the site to add news, change pictures, or post announcements and newsletters. Having good training and support makes updating easier, helps keep the website fresh, and reduces future mistakes while building confidence.

Here's how schools can help these key staff members get ready and feel confident with the new website:

Plan for Training

Before the new website even goes live, plan training sessions for the staff who will use it the most. This training should cover everything from basic tasks like writing and posting news and blog posts, to swapping photos or updating the calendar.

The training can be done in person, like a workshop, or through online tutorials that staff can complete on their own time. 

finalsite training screenshot

Finalsite offers virtual training options, Learning Centers, a thorough Knowledge Base, and award-winning support to tackle any questions users may have.

Prior to launch, Upper Adams School District in Pennsylvania partnered with the team at Finalsite to host an in-person training event for all impacted staff members.

“The in-person training with our district team members prior to launch was absolutely critical and invaluable to the success of the transition,” Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Joseph Albin explained. “The communication during training, transition, and deployment was well-documented, timely, accurate, and accessible to all stakeholders.”

Create Simple Guides or Videos

Even after the training sessions, it's helpful to have guides or videos that staff can refer back to when they need a reminder on how to do something. These guides should be easy to follow, with step-by-step instructions and pictures, screenshots, or videos, like Beachwood Schools did with its new site's announcement.

beechwood district new site layout

Launching a New Website to Staff: Rollout & Feedback

Launching a new school website is an important moment. Everyone’s been waiting to see the new site, and now it's time to show it off. But the work doesn't stop there.

Technology and needs change fast. By staying open to feedback and ready to make updates, you can keep the site current AND useful.

Gathering feedback after the launch is super important to make sure the website keeps getting better. Here's how to manage the rollout and keep listening:

Plan for the Launch

Before the new site goes live for everyone to see, there should be a plan and a website launch announcement. Your deployment team will help find the best date and time, but it's important to let everyone know when the website will be switched over from the old one to the new one so they aren't surprised.

Welcome Feedback

Once the new website is up and running, it's time to listen to what people think. Your school can set up a simple form on the website where visitors can leave comments or suggestions, just like 27J Schools. Ask specific questions like, "Is the new website easy to use on your phone?" or "Did you find the information you were looking for?"

27J new site popup

A launch video is a great option to inform and celebrate the new launch, just like Portland Public Schools presented to its staff and community. With an overview of where to find popular resources and information, it’s a great option for showing your staff the new website.

Make Adjustments as Needed

Based on the feedback and observations, you might need to tweak the website, and that’s OK! Remember that your website is a living document that’s never finished, so keep an open mind about updates, fixing links, or adding new sections.

Key Takeaway

Just like your daily work and the responsibilities of a school, rolling out a new website involves employees continuing to work together, listen, and make improvements so the website continues to serve the school community well into the future.

By focusing on open communication, involving staff in the process, and providing the necessary support, schools can ensure a smooth transition to a new website that meets the needs of all its users.

website redesign playbook

Connor Gleason Headshot


Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.

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