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Chappaqua Central School District

As a nationally renowned public school system in the suburbs of New York City, Chappaqua stands apart with its highly motivated students, engaged staff, and an involved parent community.

While many districts around the country experienced enrollment declines, Chappaqua’s student population has held steady since the pandemic. However, the district still needed an advantage to stand out from nearby school systems and attract families exploring school choice.

While the district continued to develop its sustainability research centers, STEAM centers, and innovative learning spaces, its website remained untouched. With an outdated design that wasn’t user or mobile-friendly, it needed to reflect what it offered its students—an extraordinary experience.

At a Glance

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Chappaqua is a K-12 public school district characterized by highly motivated students, a broadly educated and talented staff, and an actively involved parent community.

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“Our website wasn’t what we wanted to represent our district,” said Dr. Adam Schoenbart, the district's associate director of technology and communication. With the previous site, Schoenbart and the Chappaqua team faced labor-intensive content creation processes, relying on manual updates and coordination across departments. Their communications team–and the community–were ready for a change.

“We wanted to make sure our website was responsive, mobile-friendly, and accessible and that our communications represented the experiences of the district. We needed a fresh start.”

Chappaqua specifically discussed wanting a partner to help them achieve their website goals, many of which involved changing how they presented content through the website. The district felt that much of its content should be internal, not external, and it needed a way to work through those strategic decisions.

Chappaqua also knew the importance of presenting the district to potential families, and they weren't sure how to "sell" the amazing programming already taking place.

Supported by the partnership of Finalsite Advantage, Finalsite’s strategic marketing service, Chappaqua began to redesign its website and leverage the tools within Finalsite’s Content Management System, Composer.

The Redesign Plan

Before beginning the redesign, Schoenbart worked with the Finalsite Advantage team to discuss the district’s strategy, goals, and top priorities for the site.


Schoenbart shared that some of the best advice he could give others going through the redesign process is to look at examples of other sites’ design, user experience, and content. "We had really good models, and so right off the bat, we had clear expectations of some of the outcomes our site needed to achieve, which was really helpful.”

screenshot of home with strategic plans

For the project’s success, gaining buy-in from stakeholders involved meeting members of district leadership, faculty, and the community. The district held focus groups, conducted surveys, and discussed the website vision with the school board communications committee to establish its communication strategy and discussed the site moving toward a “public relations mindset.” 

“One of the big shifts in our strategy was moving away from an informational website mainly geared toward families and teachers,” Schoenbart said. “The new website is for families and students, but more than that, it’s for the community.”

Investing Like It Matters

This would be a large project for the Chappaqua team, and Schoenbart emphasized how essential his meetings with his Finalsite Advantage team were for keeping their project on track. 

They carefully outlined the project's scope, accountability partners, key content, and critical timelines. Leveraging Finalsite’s suite of tools for content management and design customization played a significant role in streamlining the navigation and the user experience.

Fresh Imagery & New Efficiencies

Recognizing the importance of visual appeal, Schoenbart hired a photographer to capture high-quality images of students, faculty, and facilities and even established a system for regular photo updates to keep the website fresh and engaging. 

With Chappaqua's limited internal resources and time, Finalsite Advantage helped them stay accountable and organized to reach their goals. During regular meetings with the Finalsite Advantage team, they drafted a launch timeline to set them up for success. 

As new content was added, one of the most significant time-saving elements of the site was Composer’s “Create Once, Publish Everywhere” (C.O.P.E.) feature of the Post module, which allows users to create or edit a piece of content once and then strategically publish it and use it throughout the site.

Identifying Top Priorities

Chappaqua knew they wanted the website to be modern and user-friendly, but it also needed to serve the community and provide other opportunities, including:

  • Recruiting families and new staff
  • Showing what Chappaqua provides its students and the community
  • Intuitive navigation and accessible resources
  • Showing the district as modern, forward-thinking, and innovative
  • Accessible tools and functionality for all users
  • Highlighting recent campus and facility updates

“If I post an article tomorrow about a classroom learning opportunity, it’s going to automatically appear on the district site, the school’s site, and our curriculum site,” explained Schoenbart. “All of it is done on the backend, which makes us much more efficient.”

Prioritizing consistent messaging and design across all district pages, Schoenbart rewrote content, leveraged AI tools for efficiency, and sought stakeholder feedback through forms and social media.

“The new site maps were consistent everywhere. Each school followed the same format, with their own slight tweaks and ‘flavor’ depending on the needs of the building,” said Schoenbart. “We realized that consistency helped support the rebranding and make information much easier to find.”

The Results

Today, Chappaqua’s new site offers so much to explore, including information on its strategic priorities, social media integration, and the district’s differentiators, all presented in a custom, mobile-friendly design that elevates the district. 

Chappaqua Central School District mockup

"We now have much more information about who is visiting our sites, which pages, and for how long," said Schoenbart. "We can better craft our user experiences in ways we were not able to previously. Our site traffic has increased 10% month-to-month over the past few months and looks on track to continue the trend. We're on pace for our highest traffic month since the relaunch."

On its homepage, key announcements and a "What's Happening" section highlight the day's news. The navigation is straightforward, with quick links to school sites, popular resources, and more, all accessible from the main menu. The district also has a future-focused section for prospective employees, creatively designed to showcase what it’s like to work and live in Chappaqua, with details about the surrounding communities and neighborhoods.

More highlights include:

  • One-click translation from Weglot
  • Filterable news and announcements, searchable by keywords and date range
  • An in-depth board of education section covering policies and regulations, meetings, budgets, strategic priorities, and more!

And just four months after the launch, the district's site received Gold in the Hermes Creative Awards, an international marketing and communications competition from the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals. 

Chappaqua’s Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Christine Ackerman, was proud of how the site now represented the district, adding, “Our instruction, spaces, and classrooms have evolved to meet the needs of our learners and community, and now our website has been redesigned to match the needs of our community."

"With our use of Post boards and constituent directories," Schoenbart added, "I have a newfound confidence that our content is always updated and visible in the right places. We don't have to spend time searching to catch mistakes or outdated content; the work has become so much more efficient and purposeful. This has saved our team countless hours and maybe more importantly, increased our confidence in our site, the Finalsite product, and our online presence."

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