In a recent Blackboard customer survey, district administrators, IT leaders, and PR professionals consistently gave their websites high praise for playing a vital role in communication and engagement strategies.

In fact, the survey respondents named district websites as the top most effective aspect of community engagement, and one of the top three most effective tactics used to measure community engagement efforts.

With so many educational leaders relying on their online presence for a connected community, it begs the question—are your school and district websites performing at a level that positively impacts your engagement?

If you’re not sure of the answer, then you’re reading the right blog post.

Below are six easy tips to follow to ensure your website is on the right track, and an infographic that gives you a window into how other district websites are performing around the country. After checking out all the materials, grade your website to see how it stacks up and you’ll receive a downloadable personalized report on how to improve your website’s accessibility, marketing capabilities, and technology.

6 tips to create a truly impressive K-12 district website

#1: Make your website usable.

It may sound obvious, but if your students, parents, staff, and community can’t navigate to the information they need, they won’t use your website. Use headings, bullet points, search functions, keywords, and readable font sizes to format content in a user-friendly way.

#2: Use responsive design.

75% of your community is visiting your website from a mobile device. If you’re still using a website that makes them pinch and zoom to find information, then you’re behind the times and frustrating your visitors. Responsive websites solve this problem with adaptable content that resizes to fit every size screen.

#3: Create compelling content.

Building a usable and responsive website is all for nothing if your content is outdated and irrelevant. Use teacher pages to give parents and students a gateway into the classroom with assignment deadlines and test schedules. Also create an integrated calendar that allows community members to view events and programs across the district and schools.

#4: Share your story with visuals.

Visual elements like photos and videos capture attention and keep people coming back to your website. Who wouldn’t want to see smiling student faces and learning in action? Be creative, like Barrington 220 School District, and you’ll be surprised by the increase in interaction.

#5: Develop forums for feedback.

Remember the survey data from the beginning of the blog post? Did you know that 70% of respondents defined community engagement as a two-way collaborative communication with stakeholders? Pair that with the earlier data about websites being the most effective aspect of community engagement and you have a recipe for success. Collect valuable stakeholder feedback and open forums for discussion through forms, surveys, and blogs.

#6: Be reliable.

Perhaps the most important tip of all is to always be available. You can have the best content, an interactive layout, and a stunning design, but if your website is down or slow to load then your visitors won’t trust it as a reliable source of information. Choose a secure hosting environment that will have consistent uptime, especially during high traffic times like back-to-school and inclement weather days.

Is this a lot to consider? Absolutely. But just imagine the positive impact these tips can bring to your district engagement. To see how well you’re currently tackling these tips, grade your website for free and check out the infographic and text alternative below.

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Text alternative for infographic: 

Website report card: See how the states stack up

More than 500 K-12 districts across the U.S. texted their website’s accessibility, marketing capabilities, and technology standards using Blackboard’s Website Grader. This tool provides districts with an overall website grade that ranges from 1 (low/needs improvement) to 10 (high/quality website).

Check out the average grades by state, demographic, and enrollment then grade your website to see how it compares to other K-12 districts using the data below.

Map Key:

  • Green states: Grades 8-10 = Quality Website
  • Yellow states: Grades 6-7: Needs Some Improvements
  • Orange states: Grades 0-5: Needs Major Improvements
  • Gray states: No district websites have been graded in this state

Grades by state:

  • AK: 7.3
  • AL: 4.3
  • AR: 7.0
  • AZ: 7.4
  • CA: 6.4
  • CO: 7.7
  • CT: 7.0
  • DE: 4.4
  • FL: 8.0
  • GA: 6.4
  • HI: No graded websites
  • IA: 7.5
  • ID: 8.2
  • IL: 6.5
  • IN: 8.3
  • KS: 5.1
  • KY: 4.9
  • LA: 6.5
  • ME: No graded websites
  • MA: 6.4
  • MD: 7.0
  • MI: 7.1
  • MN: 5.8
  • MO: 6.7
  • MS: 7.2
  • MT: 6.7
  • NC: 7.7
  • ND: 6.3
  • NE: No graded websites
  • NH: No graded websites
  • NJ: 6.3
  • NM: 7.4
  • NV: No graded websites
  • NY: 6.9
  • OH: 6.6
  • OK: 7.7
  • OR: 7.1
  • PA: 6.8
  • RI: No graded websites
  • SC: 7.3
  • SD: 4.9
  • TN: No graded websites
  • TX: 6.8
  • UT: 7.0
  • VA: 6.5
  • VT: No graded websites
  • WA: 7.8
  • WI: 7.2
  • WV: No graded websites
  • WY: No graded websites

Grade my district website

Average grade by district enrollment

  • 7.0: High enrollment (2,000+ students)
  • 6.4: Medium enrollment (500 – 2,000 students)
  • 5.8: Low enrollment (less than 500 students)

Average grade by developed environment

  • 6.3: Rural
  • 6.9: Suburban
  • 7.2: Urban

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