Update to Seattle Schools' Website Story

I'm following up on the story about a blind parent who is suing the district over changes to the district's website that does not allow her to access her students' information (and the company who created the website is now being sued by the district, with finger-pointing in both directions).

As part of the settlement for recent litigation regarding website accessibility, our website provider agreed to migrate our public website to their latest software by Mar. 1 of this year. This migration only affects the district’s main web pages and the school websites for John Muir Elementary School, Washington Middle School and Garfield High School.

In addition, the contract for our current website hosting services was terminated by the vendor and the district is seeking a new service provider.

(Those are some pretty random school pages.  It would appear this fix is for the sight-challenged parent's effort to keep up with her students' work but what happens to the next parent with this issue if he/she doesn't have students at those schools?) 

So it appears the district is AGAIN revamping the website and wants your input.

New changes are coming for the Seattle Public Schools website, and we’d like your input. Over the course of the next several months, the district will be transitioning to new software that runs the website and teacher/class pages. Subsequently, we will be redesigning the sites to better serve our families, staff and communities. These changes will not affect The Source.
 To share your experience, recommendations and insight for a new seattleschools.org website, including all school websites and teacher/classroom pages, we welcome you to take a few minutes to complete our quick survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SPSwebsite2015 (also available in Chinese, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese.) The survey is open until March 9, 2015.

As we move through the process, we’ll continue to update you. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email webinfo@seattleschools.org.

This is probably a good idea because finding information - despite the new "How do I..." section - is always a trial.  (For example, if you want to find out what the Board committees' agendas are, you have to go to the Board area, find Committees, then select Agendas.  Why isn't there just a link at the district calendar to those agendas.)

But the big "uh oh" comes not once but twice in this informational release:

Ideally, we’d like to transition to the new software and redesign the branding and navigation simultaneously. Unfortunately, circumstances require that we complete this project in phases.

Again, the abbreviated timeline for this initiative, combined with the termination of our current contract, will not allow us to complete both the migration to new software and the transition to a new website design concurrently. Please be assured that we are dedicated to doing it right by making sure we gather input from all stakeholders, identify the right tools based on your input, assure migrations happen with as little disruption as possible, and finally implement a new site design that better serves our user community.

What's your least favorite thing about the current district website? 


Greg said…
My least favorite thing? That's it's not kept up-to-date. There's old information up there mixed in with new. Information or forms that come in by e-mail or postal mail to parents and students will not be up on the website. And also reports, presentations, and financials are often slow to arrive to the website.

If I get to have more, I'd love to have the ability to fill out the gazillion forms we parents have to fill out over and over again with mostly the same information just done once online along with the ability to add authorizations (yes on the field trip, yes on photo use, etc.). And I'd love to have good search (I usually just use Google with [site: seattleschools.org] added to the query).

Generally, though, I'd really like them to focus on making the most common cases work really well. Parents want certain information on their students and their schools mostly when they come to the website? Make that really fast and easy to get. Don't try to do everything and end up making it hard to do the very few things people want to do. Focus on the top N things, make those great, then do an okay job on the rest. That's fine, really, don't try to have everything on the home page or spend huge amounts of time on really rare things.

A related question to ask might be, are there any school districts out there that do a really great job with their website? If so, maybe we should look at those examples and do more of whatever they're doing?
mirmac1 said…
I agree Greg. I see that the Civil Rights Compliance
Official/Officer/Coordinator to file complaints is either: Larry Dorsey(?), Pegi McEvoy and Barbara Nahouraii. I applaud this parent with navigating the morass at JSCEE and advocating for those with visual impairments.
Dana said…
I find it ironic that with all the issues the website is having, I received a letter this week announcing that they will no longer be sending hard copy letters regarding a child's school assignment. Instead, the parent will need to look it up ...on the website!
Charlie Mas said…
It's funny, you know. I remember when the District entered into this contract. They spent a LOT of money on it and I remember thinking (and saying) that it was way too much money and it should have been a lower priority. I remember them saying how wonderful the new web site would be. It wasn't. I don't believe that the next one will be wonderful either.
Anonymous said…
Interesting article :)


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