News Column

Sylvania schools' new site ready for students

August 13, 2014

By Natalie Trusso Cafarello, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio



Aug. 13--The Sylvania School District is welcoming students back to school with a new colorful Web site that is friendly for mobile devices and social media.

The district's new site went live Aug. 1. It'?s design uses color, bigger fonts, a cleaner style, and compartmentalized content so users can easily find the information they seek.

"Internally it is pretty much the same. It just was updated for a modern look, easy access, and it's more intuitive," Sheryl O'Shea, district information technology director, said.

One of the obvious changes is the bright pages'? use of blue, for the district's colors, and green for the City of Sylvania's designation as a city of trees. Each page has space for a banner that is used for updating parents on school closings, communicating emergencies, and making district-wide announcements

Information technology personnel and Communications Director Nancy Crandell assisted with moving the information from the old site onto the new one and updating content, or deleting outdated information. Madhouse, a Toledo graphic design company, designed the new site and templates for $15,000.

"Madhouse showed us we needed things, and took it a step further," Ms. Crandell said.

The site is interactive with administration Twitter accounts located at the bottom of school pages. Superintendent Brad Rieger will also have a blog on the new site. Contact numbers and email addresses for staff and board members are clearly posted upfront on main pages for each department or school.

With the new site administrators and principals will be able to input information directly into a simple interface, quickly updating respective school pages.

The former site, created about four years ago, was designed internally using a free platform. The platform was outdated and incompatible with new technology, including mobile devices and the district's operating system.

"We were losing functionality," and some users could not view the site on their devices, Ms. Crandell said.

Users can view and easily use the new site from any device, without having to scroll sideways or up and down to find information on an oversized page.

"The Web site is optimized to shrink down for a mobile device, any sized screen it will optimize itself to fit that screen," Mrs. O'Shea said.

The main page organizes information by user, allowing one to enter the site according to specific needs.

"Everything is set up by group. So if you're looking for district information, if you are a prospective family, if you are a student, everything is broken down by use. The old site you had to search around a little bit," Mrs. O'Shea said.

Another piece of information users won't have to search or call the district for is where a home is located on the district map, determining the school a child would attend. Under "Prospective Families" is a map outlining each school'?s boundaries. The district has 12 schools.

The map color codes school boundaries. Parents or students can input an address to see which school boundary a home is located in.

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or ntrusso@theblade.com, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.

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(c)2014 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)

Visit The Blade (Toledo, Ohio) at www.toledoblade.com

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Source: Blade (Toledo, OH)


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