FCIT Home > A Teacher's Guide to School Web Sites > Chapter 2: Overview of School Web Sites
Thinking about creating a web site for your school can be very intimidating, especially if you have not previously had the opportunity to take part in a similar process. Developing a web site for your school requires an investment of thought, time, and resources, just as it does for any worthwhile project. This chapter gives you an idea of how the whole process can be approached in manageable steps. In order to guide you, we have organized the steps into four major phases: Decide, Design, Develop, and Evaluate & Maintain.
The DDD-E model
An overview of the phases is shown in the figure below. Evaluation is a key component throughout the entire process. In addition to a final evaluation in step four; evaluation is also included in each of the three initial phases. From the feedback you receive you may decide to go back and alter decisions made in the Decide phase to better accomplish your goals for the web site. Or you may realize that an important topic was omitted which requires you to go back to the Design phase and ultimately the Develop phase as you make your additions. Although careful preparation can help ensure well-informed decisions later on, realize that you will not be following a strictly linear process.
- Build your team. The first step is team building, during which you pull together a group of people who are interested, committed, and perhaps already knowledgeable about developing a web site. Chapter 3 gives more detail regarding the kinds of tasks that need to be performed by team members. Administrators, teachers, parents, and students all have a vested interest in the school web site and could be valuable team members.
- Do your homework. The second step is doing your homework. Your team needs to look at web sites published by other schools as well as policies and procedures that will affect your web site.
- Decide, Decide, Decide. The third step is sitting down together as a team and making decisions before beginning the actual design process.
- Who is your audience?
- What content do you want to include in the site?
- What level of interactivity do you want?
- What are the policies and procedures for publishing?
- What are your goals for the site?
- What are the responsibilities of each team member?
- What is your time line?
- Organize your content. After deciding on your content, you must organize it into logical chunks of information. Suggested methods include using index cards, white board and markers, or concept mapping software.
- Determine the site structure. After organizing the content, you are ready to develop a flowchart for your web site. Developing a user profile can be helpful. Most school sites use a hierarchical structure to link their pages.
- Set up your navigation. Determining the type of navigational interface is also part of the design process. It is important to help visitors know where they are in the site relative to the home page, and how to find information as they move through the site.
- Choose the look and feel. The look and feel of a site is the overall image that you want to project to your audience. For example, it could be advantageous for a high school site to impress visitors with their high academic standards, whereas a preschool site may want to reflect a nurturing environment.
- Design your pages. A rough layout of each page is helpful for the programmer before he or she begins creating the actual HTML files. Use a template so that the look and feel will be consistent throughout the site. Design principles should guide your placement of elements on each page.
- Write text. Writing text for the Web requires presenting the summary or conclusions at the top of the page, followed by the details. Concise wording and a well-designed layout of the text help the user get the information quickly.
- Prepare the graphics and other media. The development of the graphics, and the digitizing of any pictures, audio, or video must be done before they can be put into a web page. The Portable Document Format (PDF) may also be used for some school documents. Although some team members may already know how to do some or all of the production tasks, it is possible, with the help of this booklet, for inexperienced persons to learn how to accomplish what needs to be done.
- Begin programming. You may choose to program your site either by typing HTML code directly into a text editor or by using a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor such as Macromedia Dreamweaver or Adobe GoLive. This is also the time to make important decisions about site management and naming conventions. An introduction to basic HTML may be found in chapter 5.
- Get a progress report. Evaluation should be ongoing during the development process. The team leader should seek feedback from the team members as they try to meet the dates of the time line. Also, the site should be tested on different browsers and platforms as it is being developed.
- Usability testing. Before going live with your site, you should test it with a variety of users. Tests should also include a range of hardware, platforms, and browser versions.
- Review your goals. Evaluation towards the end of the project helps team members determine if the project has met its goals. The goals you established in the Decide phase can now become a checklist of accomplishments.
- Maintain site. Finally, because a web site is an ongoing entity, it requires maintenance. Keeping the information current and interesting is crucial to the success of your site. You should also backup your files and review your server logs on a regular basis.
In the following chapters we will examine each phase and provide detailed guidelines and tools to help you along the way.
Table of Contents || Chapter 1 || Chapter 2 || Chapter 3 || Chapter 4 || Chapter 5 || Chapter 6 || Chapter 7 || Glossary
©2004 Florida Center for Instructional Technology
College of Education, University of South Florida
4202 E. Fowler Ave., EDU162
Tampa, Florida 33620