- General Best Practices
Everyday website maintenance takes a big step forward. Just ask Beth Stefanik of St. Anne's-Belfield School in Charlottesville, VA. She's the happy veteran of a complete website makeover and a transition to Finalsite's new user interface, Composer.
Beth is the School's Associate Director of Communications and Media Relations. She came to the school when it was on the verge of a total website redesign. Beth and the School's Director of Marketing & Publications Kristen Gleason worked together to re-vamp their online presence last year.
Finalsite suggested options: continue with a known quantity — Page Manager — or step boldly into the future of educational website management with Composer. The School, without a doubletake, decided to look ahead.
She said timing the transitions together made sense:
"There was a real confluence of goals, and the school decided to embrace a new way of doing things."
The Website Redesign Playbook
The fact that Beth was fairly new to the school in some ways made the changes easier—part of her new role meant becoming the resident web master. "We knew we needed one person who could become an expert in Composer and serve as the liaison with Finalsite."
With some initial help from Finalsite and its support team, Beth handles the lion's share of the School's website content management.
She loves how easy it is to maneuver in Composer: "You can't beat drag-and-drop editing. It's so intuitive." She's also a big fan of one of the interface's simple, yet crucial features: Compose Mode.
This function requires a user to intentionally select it in order to edit their site, preventing accidental updates. "Composer Mode has saved me more than once," she laughed.
Even though Beth makes most of the routine changes to the School's site, she says Composer's ease of use means that the school's Director of Marketing and Publications and the development staff use it regularly as well.
"It makes it so much easier to manage the overlap of a school's news and information among staff members."
Besides Composer's ease of use, Beth attributes the success of their website to their focus on consistent design across all of their digital and print assets. The School has a total commitment to in-house design, bringing a sense of cohesiveness to their marketing and brand.
"We really wanted to make sure we had visual consistency across our our virtual and print communications, so we've made good use of our own designs."
This in-house expertise lends flexibility and depth to a school's website. For example, a typical Finalsite website redesign may feature a half-dozen or so "top banners," promoting major aspects of a school's program such as Academics or Arts. Although Composer makes it easy to swap out images, many schools lack the resources to have a different top banner for every single page.
However, the School's website features about 60, from "Singapore Math" to "Sports Medicine"— something impossible without in-house capacity.
This kind of specificity in design really helps to shape a user experience. Each page has a unique look and feel, but a consistent (and excellent) experience — and that is the goal of any website.
- Web Design