High School Student asked for comments and suggestions on how to improve the Grafton schools’ website after I noted my dislike of it in my post about the town’s new easy-on-the-eyes site. I can mention one thing that really irks me, but it’s not an issue with the site but an issue with policy.
Why can’t I see the School Committee agenda on the Grafton site posted on the meeting calendar, just like every other board? Why do I then have to navigate over to the school site, go to the School Committee section, and hope that this time the agenda isn’t accidentally put up in gibberish? If a person who is interested in the committee is considered more likely to go to the school site, why can’t it still be put up on the town site?
That aside, I’ve been trying to figure out why the Grafton schools site just seem to be an assault on my senses every time I visit. It probably comes down to the green.
I know. It’s the town color. But the glaring green against the blinding white is just too much contrast. The cross hatching of the bars that separate the different section also gives it the illusion of glowing. I’m a parent, the person most likely to visit the site. I have tired eyes from being on the computer all day (this is true whether I’m working or at home, I’m sorry to say — I kind of live on it with my writing habit). I hate the evil green glow.
When I go to each school section, the basic view doesn’t change much. Whatever is deemed news on the homepage (today it’s the announcement for the 2009 Partner in Education award) remains at the top of the page no matter where you navigate. Again, as a parent, if I’m going to my child’s school site, I’m probably looking for the information sitting at the bottom of the page. I want that school phone number.
And you know what would be nice to have alongside the principal’s name on the school pages? His or her email, which you need to find by navigating over to the staff list and scrolling to find by alphabetical order. Why isn’t the list of staff at each school at least linked off the pages for each school?
I would also, as a middle school parent, like for my child to know what kind of day it is. Grafton Middle School has this complicated schedule where weeks and days are certain colors and the different combos mean different things. During Christmas vacation, he and his friend were trying to figure out what their first week would be, not out of idle curiosity, but because on certain Mondays, they have band and need to bring their instruments into school.
I’d also like the calendars on each school page to actually tell me things apart from holidays and early dismissal days. This month, Grafton Elementary School has spirit week. Wouldn’t knowing what your child should be dressed in each day be convenient to note? How about when the Boxtops contest is finished, or when the next fundraiser packet is due, or a notation about the re-scheduled Many Thanksgivings?
Here’s another pet peeve. Say I’m researching the Grafton schools and I want to find out something simple: the superintendent’s phone number. I know, because I’ve visited this site, that I need to scroll down to the bottom of the homepage to find it. But a first-time visitor is going to look at the tabs, say “Oh, here’s the superintendent,” and either come up with the Links and Info page (no phone number) or the newsletter (no phone number and it makes the drop-down menus for each tab unusable).
You have to have phone numbers in an obvious place. The homepage should have a listing of each school and principal and the superintendent and phone numbers for each. Maybe there should be a standing box in the District Links column that just has that information handy no matter where you navigate.
Finally, let’s talk about the staff directory. It’s February, the middle of the school year, and several of the teachers have photos and handy links for their students online. Many, however, note something along the lines of “Mrs. Smith will enter some information here shortly.”
Wouldn’t it be nice for an elementary school student to see a picture of what her teacher will look like when she’s nervous about her first day of school? Wouldn’t it be convenient, as a parent, to have links to some of the sites they are using in class? Granted, we have Powerschool in middle and high school (which is probably why I’m not seeing, say, a link to Mr. Singley’s awesome band site on his page), but some parents might actually like to do a little research ahead of time.
You know, I thought this was going to be a much shorter post. Other thoughts?