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Upper Adams School District

With the goal of ensuring that all students are college and career-ready, Upper Adams School District in Pennsylvania provides opportunities that empower each student to become a responsible and productive individual.

However, the district's website needed to accurately reflect its commitment and update its template to provide a better user experience for its tight-knit community and administrators.

“We were looking for a more modern website with an easier user interface and more functionality,” said Joe Albin, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment at Upper Adams School District.

After discussions with Finalsite, the district transitioned from Blackboard’s Web Community Manager to Finalsite’s content management system, Composer, to better serve students and the community.

At a Glance

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Upper Adams provides challenging and inspiring educational opportunities to students and its tight-knit community located in rural Pennsylvania.

The Challenge: An Outdated User-Experience

“The goals for the new website were to be more modern, user friendly, and functional,” said Albin, explaining how their site distributes important resources to families across 100 square miles throughout the district. 

“Based on a community survey, our school district website is the number one place families and community members go for information about our school district. Therefore, we wanted to make sure our website was engaging, accessible, and could effectively communicate our information.”

To achieve these goals, the Upper Adams team began reviewing the website, identifying improvement areas, and incorporating stakeholder feedback to meet the needs of current families. 

In addition to enhancing the website's visual appeal and functionality, the team prioritized making its navigation more intuitive with clear pathways to key information and important resources, like lunch menus, calendars, athletic schedules, and the district’s budget and policies.

Training and Support During Migration

However, launching a new website in the weeks before a busy back-to-school season doesn’t come without a learning curve. Over six months, district administrators worked with Finalsite Support, implementation team members, project managers, and technicians to migrate the content from the old website to the Composer platform and provide administrative training on Composer’s functionality and design features.  

Furthermore, the district partnered with the team at Finalsite to host an in-person training event for all impacted staff members about a month prior to launch.

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

Albin shared that in smaller school districts like Upper Adams, it’s not uncommon for trained educators to take on the role of ‘webmaster,’ and the district appreciated how Finalsite spoke to them as school professionals and educators – not as experienced web designers.

“For public school districts, having Finalsite understand that they are working with educators, not technology folks when creating and maintaining the website was key. Finalsite understood that, and their patience and understanding helped us tremendously,” Albin said. “All our questions and feedback were answered promptly and thoroughly, and in the end, the final product turned out well. We’re proud of the website.”

The Solution: A Modern & Intuitive New Site

With the proper resources, training, and communications in place, Upper Adams smoothly transitioned to Finalsite’s content management system, Composer

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Albin appreciates the site’s user-friendliness of the CMS and the key resources that can be easily featured through the different modules in Composer.

“The best part of the website for me is the administrative side. Our previous experience was clumsy, awkward, and just not intuitive. Finalsite just makes sense because it allows for easier page creation and utilizes resources like pictures and videos to create a seamless integration.”

“We frequently use Posts to display district news and other events for our school community,” he added. “Page Pops are used for school board meetings as reminders and changes in dates, time, and locations, as well as during weather emergencies.”

The Results: Functionality and Integrated School Comms

The Upper Adams community has welcomed the mobile app and site with open arms, seeing a nearly 30% increase in organic traffic to the district’s homepage in the year since its launch.

“The website has received a plethora of positive comments and feedback from staff, students, families, board members, and community members,” Albin said. “We’re proud of the overall appearance and layout of the website. It’s leaps and bounds what our previous website looked like, and the functionality for how we can present content is amazing.”

A Mobile App

The Upper Adams School District also uses a branded mobile app built by Finalsite, which allows its website content to seamlessly populate on the app and provide a personalized experience for users.

“It was important for our community that the app be intuitive and have the ability to provide the content and notification functionality folks expect,” Albin said, adding that Upper Adams uses the mobile app as a one-stop source for families and students to access information and curriculum resources like:

  • Lunch menus
  • Scores for recent athletic team competitions
  • District news and upcoming events 
  • Notifications for weather closings and delays, and more

“Finalsite technicians worked with our team at Upper Adams to navigate publishing our app to Google Play and the App Store, as well as recommended design styles," Albin added. "In addition, Finasite helps us promote the adoption and use of the app through marketing flyers, notices, and website graphics to increase awareness of the app’s availability.”

“Since its launch, the Upper Adams School District App has been well received and continues to be downloaded by new families and staff members. It’s become an integral part of how we communicate our school district information to our stakeholders, and they appreciate the ability to access the information they need.”

Planning Ahead with Mass Notifications

The Upper Adams School District has partnered with Finalsite to transition the final component of its communication suite to Finalsite’s mass notifications system, Messages XR.

“School safety is paramount for the team at Upper Adams,” Albin shared. "Upper Adams was extremely impressed with the feature set included with the new platform, as well as the simplicity of use, consistent branding, and the translation feature, as our district serves a very diverse population.”

“Having been through successful implementations with the transitions for the new website and the app, Upper Adams feels extremely confident moving forward with this final piece of our communication infrastructure. We know Finalsite “gets us” and will work with our team to ensure the launch and overall implementation are seamless so we don’t miss a beat when communicating with our students and their families. We’re looking forward to this next journey with Finalsite.”

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