Refresh: School website undergoes complete remodeling


Sam Chiang , Staff Writer

The school’s redesigned website is now accessible on mobile devices and ready to share information about the wide range of activities offered by the school. The school’s website receives constant traffic and is the virtual representation of the school, Head of School Dr. Tom Kelly said. “In September, we had over 4,200 visitors to the old website, and our web-based admissions process has run exceptionally well over the past two years through this version of the website.”

At the top of the home page, photos show students of all ages both in and out of the classroom enjoying the multitude of activities offered by the school. The new page also prominently features a descriptive video of the school and a welcome letter by Kelly. “Having a streamlined platform, one that’s easier to navigate, allows its users to spend more time exploring the depth and breadth of our program and new pages without the previous complications and formatting issues associated with our old web page,” Kelly said.

The school worked with the online design company and hosting service Finalsite to compose the updated website due to their great customer service and designers, Operations and Technical Supporter Sheryl Baker said. Finalsite created the school’s previous website around eight years ago, and the school reached out for a redesign because it recognized that the website looked old, and the website was not mobile-friendly, Baker said. “When they updated their back-end software to be able to draw on mobile devices, we decided we would look into a redesign.”

“The website is dynamic, so if you shrink the screen, the text will shrink down and columns will realign to be viewable on a mobile device or desktop,” Technology Integrator Cassandra Parets said. The new website also allows the school to publish pop-up windows with announcements. On Wednesday, Baker and Parets used this feature to remind website viewers that the school would be closing at 4:30P.M. The new service also provides a fancier e-blast tool that will allow the school to embed logos and even videos and photos, Parets said.

The first step to creating a new website was sitting down with a design team from Finalsite, Parets said. “We gave the logos and colors which we wanted to use to a Finalsite design team that was at the school for a few days,” she said. “They [talked] to the department heads to get an idea of what everybody wanted from their pages.” After previewing three or four different designs based on what they had suggested to Finalsite, the school decided on an elegant and streamlined design, Baker said.

To ensure that they could continue to update their pages on their own, Parets also trained representatives from the Katz Library, Athletic Department, Admissions, Alumni, and Parents Association to use the back-end system.

Finalsite also offers a proprietary service named Composer. This tool allows trained department heads to directly edit their respective pages using text tools and picture import tools instead of directly changing the underlying HTML or CSS, Parets said. The tools are similar to what is offered by website building services Wix, Weebly, and WordPress, except Finalsite offers a wider range of more precise tools.

The Katz Library has used their updated website to promptly display the basics, such as the catalog, databases, and periodicals, but the Recommended Reading and Cool Stuff tabs also take up a greater role. On the Katz Library landing page, students can now view curated reading selections and receive access to the school’s audio books. Library Technology Coordinator Melissa Kazan said she has been making great use of these tools as the entire layout of the library’s webpage has changed significantly. “Recommended Reads are now featured more prominently on the landing page,” she said.

“The databases have also been reorganized to make it easier for students to find the resources they need.” The library landing page also features the newly created UD History Writing and Style Guide, Kazan said.

“As the library acquires more and more digital resources, the library’s website plays an expanding role since it is the access point to those new resources,” Kazan said. The “Databases” tab and “eReference” tab have now been merged so users don’t need to toggle back and forth, she said.

The new website should be much more efficient and user-friendly for students doing research, Kazan said. Although there have been many changes, the library still wants students to be comfortable using the website Middle and Upper Division Library Chair Caroline Bartels said.

As one of the main sections on both the old website and updated version, a button to the admissions page is one of four central blocks at the bottom of the home page. The new website is easier to navigate and explore because the format is much more user-friendly, Director of Institutional Research and Enrollment Management Lisa J. Moreira P ‘19, ‘21, ‘25 said.

The school’s athletics page also received an upgrade and is now cleaner and significantly easier to use. “It’s really easy to navigate now,” Armaan Kakodkar (11) said. “If I wanted to navigate to the soccer team’s page on the old website, I would have to take four maybe five steps. Now, it’s a simple two-step process.” Seasonal sports teams are now featured on the school’s athletics landing page, which shows pictures taken over the years.

The new format of the athletic page also features a schedule of all upcoming matches and more prominently displays tabs such as Sports Medicine. The page is more noticeable, Upper Division Physical Education Chair Amy Mojica said. “I would hope that people recognize the multifaceted comprehensive approach that needs to be taken to be prepared for safe athletic participation,” she said. The page features various tabs ranging from Strength and Conditioning, which has a PDF version of the FIFA 11+ Warm up, to Concussion Management Information.

Overall, the new aesthetic of the website has satisfied many students. “I remember the previous website as old and cluttered,” Oliver Lewis (10) said. “I think the new and improved version is a step in the right direction for our school.”