Archive for Thursday, June 21, 2007

Eudora Board of Education hears Web site performance update

June 21, 2007

After eight months, the Eudora USD 491 Board of Education learned how its revamped Web site clicks with people.

The district launched the site in October and steadily added features.

Communications coordinator Kristin Magette brought a progress report to the board Thursday.

Magette oversees the site's content as part of her duties with the district.

"As you know this site has undergone quite a lot of changes since this time last year," Magette said. "When I came in July, it had not been updated regularly in quite some time."

When preparing her report for the district, Magette first wanted to find out who had been logging on to the site and what they were viewing.

The most popular area on the site was easy to find.

"By far and away, it was the calendar," Magette said.

Magette's report provided numbers relating to the amount of hits the site received, the number of files downloaded and the number of visits per day and per month.

The number of hits is misleading, Magette said.

The site registers a hit for each file on each page downloaded. One visit to the homepage could register multiple hits.

The number more accurately reflects how a Web page's complexity rather than how many people actually visited, Magette wrote in the report.

The Web site hit a peak-viewing month in March averaging about 400 visitors a day.

In tracking this number, Magette looked at visitors who viewed on average seven to eight pages on the site.

One reason for the March spike could be because it falls in the peak of hiring season for prospective teachers, Magette said.

Tracking the number of pages visited is important, Magette said.

"If they're just getting on and getting right off, maybe it's not easy to navigate, maybe they're not finding what they want," Magettte said.

The district conducted a survey during April and May to find out for certain what visitors thought of the site.

The survey also helped shed light on who was visiting.

According to the report, about 78 percent of those taking the survey were between the ages of 25 and 50.

When participants reacted negatively for the site, they cited an inability to find what they were looking for.

Magette conducted one-on-one work to help with the issue.

"I worked with some people that were not familiar with the site, and asked 'Where do you look for contact information?'" Magette said.

She added more links to make navigation easier, she said.

"Hopefully, that addressed that problem somewhat," Magette said.

The district also launched a listserv application in conjunction with the Web site. The listserv broadcasts news alerts via electronic mail.

Those on the listserv receive a monthly update and up-to-the-minute notification of school closings or updates during emergency situations.

About 200 people signed up for the service, Magette said.

A quarter of those belong to district staff members, she said.

Magette said she loves the fact the faculty will have the same news at the same time as the public.

The site will continue to expand in the coming year, Magette said.

Since October, the district has added an area specifically for prospective employees, as well as a special section to provide information on a $45 million bond issue.

The site also took a cue from a Web site in Texas to create a "rumor watch" feature. The feature allows the district the opportunity to clear up any misconceptions concerning the November bond issue. Magette predicted the bond section will expand dramatically between now and November.

Also by November, district teachers could have the opportunity to create personal Web pages for their classes.

Magette organized a pilot run of the individual homepages in the spring and will continue to refine them over the summer.

"I think it's wonderful," board member Brenda Clark said of the Web site. "I think it highlights our district really well."

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