Website Superpowers : 12/8/19

At the beginning of November, I attended a Web Curator conference for my district. My initial reasoning behind this decision was because during one of my monthly admin/tech meetings, my principal had asked what we could make our school website award winning. Like many new things that have been introduced to me this year, I was initially hesitant. I have to be honest, I did not spend a lot of time last year on my school's website. Sure I posted events- but I mostly concentrated on the school's Twitter presence.

But being new to my school, I wanted to do my best to meet my school's needs. If that meant going on a mission to find out what made websites award winning, then I was going to do it. I reached out to the district's web curators and asked for advice. They advised getting new photographs taken and offered their help. When I couldn't find a time to meet that fit both of our schedules, I found out about the Fall web curators conference. So I signed up for the conference and shared with administration that I was going to learn all about improving our school's website.

I admit- I went to that conference a little more than skeptical. When asked why I was there- I replied that my administrator wanted an "award winning website." I have never been about awards or banners so initially, I felt like this was something I was just doing for administration. But as the day unfolded, this attitude quickly changed. Through listening to the keynote and attending several breakout sessions, I realized that curating a school's website was more than met the eye.

As you can see, I discovered a whole new world behind the scenes of a website. So as the day concluded, I was sitting and talking to some of my fellow SBTS (School Based Technology Specialists), when one of them @NotesforKevin asked me what were my takeaways from today. I have to admit that if he hadn't asked me this- I would have never stopped to consider this.

I had a lot of takeaways, but the biggest one was that I was not using my school's website to its full extent- I was limiting its superpowers. There were so many more ways that I could improve my school's website or make it award winning. I had never heard of things such as the Marketing Rule of 7 and I had never thought about who specifically my audience was and what they were specifically looking for. I had never even considered looking at Google Analytics. So many doors had been opened.

So imagine my surprise when a few days later, @NotesForKevin sent me this email. From our summarizing conversation, he had identified that we had a common goal: improving our school's websites. But more than that, he suggested that we coach each other on this goal- create an accountability group of sorts. Now, this goal was not just mine, but ours. I wrote back immediately and told him this was a great idea. He responded with sharing 2 framing questions for our monthly check-ins.

  1. What did I do with the website this month to move forward with my goal of winning an award?

  2. What am I going to do next month to move me closer to my goal?

So began a new era where @NotesforKevin and I began to work together to meet our goals. I started looking at Google Analytics and realized that our Features Page with our monthly grade level updates were not getting much traffic.

Using the Marketing Rule of 7, I started sharing information about these blogs in more places. I created graphics such as the one to the left to post to our school's Twitter. I sent announcements to be included in our weekly News You Choose email and even created an announcement on the website to make it easier for others to find these pages.

Working on the website became exciting and as I watched our Google Analytics change and improve, I was committed to continuing this quest. This led me to share more information in more places with everything I posted.

As November came to a close, I got a wonderful surprise acknowledging my efforts. My school (and I) got a shout out on our grade level blogs in the November Monthly FCPS Web News. I was so excited that our grade level blogs were being highlighted in this shout-out.

Of course, I forwarded it to my administration. I was so proud- but it also made me want to work even harder to continue to activate my website's superpowers. Now that our website was getting noticed- how else could I improve this website?

This past Tuesday, it was monthly check-in time. Both of us reflected and answered the two framing questions. It was wonderful to see how both of us had grown over this month. It was obvious that both of us had learned lessons from being at the Fall Web Curators conference.

After Kevin sent his reflection, I went on his website to see his progress in action. Looking at his website, I was so happy that he had taken a risk and asked me to be part of his accountability group. We had taken our new learning and turned it into an action plan. But more than that, looking at his action steps inspired me with new ideas (I hope I helped him as well.) I could create an End of the Month post with Twitter posts too. Could I update the Homepage image more frequently? The possibilities were endless.

I want to thank Kevin for inspiring me to implement all the great things we learned after the Fall Web Curators Conference. Attending this event changed my whole outlook on how I could use a school's webpage. It unlocked superpowers I didn't know a webpage possessed, but most of all, at the end of the day, two schools and their communities are benefiting most of all.

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