School Web Site Principles

School Web Site Principles. I’ve thought about a little more and am starting to develop some requirements and design principles wrt school websites.

My current take on principles:

  • Student involvement. Students should do the bulk of the work for developing and maintaining the site. They have the energy. They have the knowhow. It is a great learning experience. It doesn’t require a huge budget.
  • Content management. At the base of the school website should be a great content management system. We want every member of the school community to be able to easily post content in the most natural way for them. Standard documents, email — they should all be able to be easily posted to the system, without having to edit the website to take the content in. (A multiuser blog architecture would work nicely).
  • Every publication created at the school should be created with the web as the primary publication target. Syllabi, meeting agendas, newsletters — let’s get it all on the web. We want the website to be lively and constantly updated, let’s get everything up there.
  • Let’s leverage the effort of others and use standard software packages to build the website. No one should be building new website scripts and content management systems — let’s leverage what exists and what is economically viable — blog technology again is a good start as it is very economical.
  • Collaborate with other schools. Every school needs the same technology for their website. It is not a source of competitive advantage. Let’s collaborate with other area schools or schools nationwide on the technology and ideas.
  • Clean separation of content, layout, and code. As articulated above we need to cleanly separate out content — we want every member of the school community regardless of their technology orientation to be able to get their content posted on the web. We don’t need to turn everyone into webmasters or PHP coders. We also want to separate out cleanly layout from code. So that the members of the school community who care about design and have design skills can work on site design, while the members who care about coding and architecture can work on coding and architecture. Pretty obvious web design principles but not something that most schools practice as far as I can see.