How Well Does This Web Site Work?
Glenbard Township High School District 87-with its four high schools-is the third-largest high school district in Illinois, encompassing 45 square miles within DuPage County, a suburban area 30 miles west of Chicago.
The home page could introduce the district more effectively by using a feature such as a welcome message from the superintendent. Instead, users are greeted with an uninviting "Subscribe to our Email List" tool in the prime position on the page.
The home page has a simple layout and displays important links prominently. The page could have made more efficient use of space, however, as there are wide, empty margins, and the bottom third of the page is completely blank.
The combination of a site menu at the top of the page and links to each of the four high schools in the district makes most navigation simple and easy. Each school's home page uses this same menu and layout, so navigation is consistent and efficient.
The pull-down menus are effective in accessing specific topics, and content is well organized for user groups such as parents, students, staff and the school board.
The search tool in the left margin uses Google's powerful search engine for finding topics, and the pages for each school use this same tool to search their respective sites.
INTERACTION WITH THE USER
While the consistent navigation menu is a good idea, many categories are repeated under several different headings and link to the same pages. For example, the Boundary Map link is listed under three different headings, and the Priority Directions link is listed under four. Individual school site menus are even more redundant, listing categories such as Administration as many as five times. As a result, there are many more menu options than necessary. It would be much more user-friendly to consolidate and simplify these headings.
Teachers and administrators can easily access the PowerSchool school management system, the FirstClass e-mail system, and also technology support via the Web Help Desk option.
The Quick Links in the left margin en-able fast access to the most popular pages, including PowerSchool, Bus Route Locator, Calendars and Employment.
The About Us pull-down menu offers a wide variety of helpful resources, including driving directions, DuPage County information, and a School Report Cards page with statistics about the budget, test scores and salaries for each school.
The Bus Route Locator is a convenient way for parents to search for the bus stop nearest to their street address.
The School Board menu provides a great deal of information, including agendas, minutes from past meetings, news and a membership roster.
While phone and e-mail contact information is available under each school's Staff Directory, the pages are long, dizzying lists of text, and hotlinked e-mail addresses are indicated for only a few staff members. A more effectively organized layout would make contacting individuals easier.
CREATIVE USE OF ONLINE TECHNOLOGIES
Pages throughout the district's site are overwhelmingly text-based. Multimedia features including audio, video, animation and other interactive technologies would help engage users in more compelling ways.
Most of the photographs on both the district's home page and the individual school sites do not have captions. Some of these photos seem to depict important events and awards, but without descriptions, the meanings are unclear.
The News features on the home page and other pages are up-to-date, but some of the press releases open in PDF format, which adds unnecessary steps. The current Academic Calendar link in the left margin opens in PDF format as well, but the single page of important dates is convenient and easy to print out.
The district maintains a useful Glenbard News e-mail list for news and announcements.
Kurt O. Dyrli is a contributing writer based in Connecticut. To suggest your district for a site review, contact Managing Editor Judy Hartnett at: email@example.com.