D86 unveils its new website this week

Hinsdale High School District 86 launched its new website yesterday morning.

The district has been working with a company called Finalsite to improve the overall appearance of its website and make it a more effective resource for students, staff, families and community members. The upgrade is part of Goal 4 of the district's strategic plan, which focuses on family and community connections.

"From a communication department standpoint, we're always assessing and evaluating all of the different systems, tools, resources we use to share information with the community," said Chris Jasculca, district communications director.

The previous website was custom designed for District 86, he said, which created a site that was exactly what the district needed but made it difficult to update.

Inserting the address of the new Transition Center site in Burr Ridge, for example, would have required a redesign of the entire footer costing $450. Adding the Blue Ribbon logo to Central's page after it received the distinction would have required a $900 redesign, he said.

The new website can be updated easily and will cost the district less money to obtain.

The district paid Finalsite $6,125 to set up the site - which includes the transfer of 400 individual pages - and will pay $9,900 a year to maintain it.

"With our current provider, I think we were around $12,000 a year," Jasculca said. "We're going to have a better looking site, a more functional site and more effective site for less money."

The new design features a dropdown menu in the upper right corner and "call to action" icons that direct people to pages on the site that are among the most frequently visited. The site should be easier to navigate, Jasculca said.

"We're making more of a conscious effort now to make our sites more focused on the user and what they need and how they find information and the stuff that's the most important to them," he said.

The redesign also gives the district the opportunity to check links and remove outdated information.

"Websites by their nature, especially in school districts, become kind of a dumping ground for information," Jasculca said. "I think part of the problem becomes you just keep adding stuff to websites, and rarely do you go back and do the annual maintenance. It ceases to become an effective communication tool."

The current site, which is operated by Blackboard, will remain live until July 15, so its content might appear in online searches about the district conducted before that date.

The district will continue to use Blackboard for automated calls, text messages and emails, Jasculca said, noting that a move to Parent Square is possible by the start of the 2023-24 school year.

District residents should receive additional information about the new website later this month or in early August.

"Our hope is to put together some materials for folks to help them in terms of getting to know the new sites, to familiarize themselves where the new information is," he said.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean