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Jon's Corner

I'm currently cruising at 36,000 feet, sitting in an airplane with Internet access flying from Boston to Seattle and then to Victoria, British Columbia (Canada) to present at the SEAL Conference. Besides talking about mobile trends, speed, SEO, and social media, I’ll also be sharing what I see is a real need for emphasis on functionality over form. In other words, we can’t just think about website design; we need to focus on how a website functions. At finalsite we call this your web strategy, something we explain in simple terms in the diagram below.

On another note, I was reading the Wall Street Journal on my iPad recently and noticed the large amount of coverage over this month’s elections in the U.S. What a great opportunity to vote for what you believe in. I always heard that every vote counts. Well, remember a couple of months ago we talked about Community Voice, our forum to share your ideas? Did you know that you can vote every day of the year and not just in November? Yes that is right: every day of the year through Community Voice. Your vote, your opinion, at Community Voice counts and we are listening. We are already seeing suggestions from Community Voice finding their way into software enhancements so go to Community Voice on the Dashboard, peruse the product ideas others have suggested or suggest your own, and cast your vote today.


Lastly, please remember to take advantage of our free professional development webinars and Web Tech Events. I'm also looking forward to seeing you at CASE- NAIS, NAIS,  and TABS.

In This Issue:

News You Can Use

Best Practices

Did You Know?


News:

10-26 NEW: Fox Chapel Country Day School
Pittsburgh, PA
10-26 St. LAUNCH: St. Paul's School
Brooklandville, MD

10-06 LAUNCH:
Allendale Columbia School
Rochester, NY
read more >

News You Can Use

 

Register NOW for finalsite WebTech Events

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Dallas, St. Louis and More... WebTech Events are Coming To Your Area.
Free professional development is just around the corner from you at this year’s finalsite Web Tech Events. These free half to full day workshops are filled with the latest web trends and networking opportunities and include a free lunch. See finalsite.com/webtech for a complete listing of upcoming events as well as more information. Don’t miss out!

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finalsite University 2011
Save the Date
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Make plans now to attend next summer’s finalsite University which will be held June 21 through 23, 2011 at Avon Old Farms School in Avon, Connecticut. Pat Bassett, President of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), and Pete Upham, Executive Director of The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), will be our keynote speakers along with Jon Moser, President and Founder of finalsite. To register or for more information on hotels, etc., go to finalsiteU.com

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Webinar Spotlight: Time-Saving Web Technology in a Fast-Paced World

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Join us on November 23 at 9:00 AM EDT for an ECIS/finalsite webinar designed for to streamline your time online.  There is a wealth of tools, utilities, plug-ins, and other handy little pieces of technology that make life easier on the web. Not only do these tools save you time and energy, they also are not expensive—in fact, many are free! Discover existing and emerging time-saving technology made for the web. Topics include freeware, safety tips, keeping “it” in the cloud, and webmaster tools. Also covered are suggestions for collaborating, editing and teaching, particularly with photos and video.  To register or for information on other future finalsite webinars, go to finalsite.com/webinars.

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Break the Brick is Back!
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In December you will receive a two pound chocolate bar as our way of saying thanks for a much-appreciated partnership. Once again, we’ll hold a contest for the most creative way of breaking the brick into edible pieces. Read more about the contest and last year’s winner at finalsiteShare. Get your thinking caps on!

 

Best Practices for Schools

A Site Redesign That's Truly Out of the Box

 

“The potential to create engaging web pages coupled with the ability to personalize communications with all of our constituents is amazing and we haven't even scratched the surface yet.”

-Dawn Levy, Director Pre-University and E-Communications, Lower Canada College, Canada

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What’s in store the next time you redesign your website? For Lower Canada College in Montreal, it was time to go big or go home. Moving to finalsite gave them an opportunity to have more functionality and control over their pages along with a more dynamic and engaging design. The result? A unique blend of CSS3-based design with public portals customized to constituents’ needs.


CSS3 (cascading style sheets, level 3) revolves around modules that provide a style and formatting consistency across the site. A key advantage of CSS3-designed sites is their compatibility with the iPad and other devices without Adobe Flash capability. Look for more finalsite sites to be designed (or redesigned) using CSS3 in the days ahead.

The second unique feature of Lower Canada College’s site was the inclusion of Portals as public pages rather than as password-protected communities. Used specifically for vital information directed to prospective parents and students, these public Portal pages are easy to update and engaging. LCC has just begun to explore the potential of Portals, particularly as a viable alternative to the traditional drop-down or expanding tree menu.


Learn more about Lower Canada College’s redesign at finalsiteShare and be sure to let us know if your school has a story to share with our community!


Did You Know?

Analyze this! Using Google Analytics to Identify Problem Pages.
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Google Analytics is chock full of information, no doubt about that. In fact, sometimes it's just way too much information for people to wrap their heads around. Where do I start? What should I be looking at? What can I do with this information? It's dizzying, and if you're not careful you can end up either a) feeling overwhelmed and not using it at all, or b) wasting a lot of time puzzling over trivial statistics that don't really help you accomplish anything.


Here's a tip by finalsite’s world-renowned Support team for pairing up two statistics to identify potentially problematic pages on your website, allowing you to take immediate corrective action. As has been discussed in a previous Support Blog post, Bounce Rate Demystified, the overall Bounce Rate for your site is a worthless statistic. However, it becomes more useful when individual pages are examined, and becomes extremely useful when paired with another statistic, Avg. Time on Page. Here's how to do it:

1. In Google Analytics go to Content and select Top Content.

2. In the report listing, click on the Bounce Rate column heading to sort the pages with the highest Bounce Rate to the top. See image below:


3. Scroll down through the listings and look for pages that have both a 100%% Bounce Rate and an Avg. Time on Page of 00:00:00. These pages usually indicate you have links on your site or somewhere else that are leading nowhere, perhaps to a page that has been deleted or has technical difficulties and cannot load. Some may be pages you intentionally deleted and are expected. Some may surprise you and lead to corrections of broken links in your content, or restoring of accidentally deleted pages.

4.  Next, look for pages that have both a 100%% Bounce Rate and a low Avg. Time on Page, such as three seconds or less. This could indicate pages that have problems with the content, or do not contain what users are expecting. You can click on the icon to the left of the listing to follow the link and see what might be causing the viewer to leave so fast.

5.  Finally, look for pages that have both a high Bounce Rate and a lower Avg. Time on Page than you would expect or desire. An example would be a page detailing why a prospective student should attend your school. If the page has 10,000 words on it and the Bounce Rate is high and the Avg. Time on Page is six seconds...you know they're not taking the time to read the whole thing. The high Bounce Rate suggests they're thinking "Ugh, I don't have time to read all that!" and leaving. In such a case you might consider reducing the content to more concise bullet points, rather than long paragraphs.


Remember to keep the purpose of the page in mind. A school lunch menu page is naturally going to have a high Bounce Rate (students bookmark it and pop in to check it, then immediately leave) and a low Avg. Time on Page (it doesn't take long to decide yum or yuck), so low numbers would not indicate a problem in that case. Also, some informational pages might have normally higher or lower Bounce Rates and Avg. Time on Page depending on whether they are new or returning visitors. You can view separate reports on each by clicking on Advanced Segments at the top right and selecting New Visitors or Returning Visitors. Have fun!

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