In March, the district announced that it would be moving to a new web platform for all Bellevue School District websites, effective in 2024. The intent of this move and website redesign is to create a new and improved website experience for all users. Throughout the months of March and April , the BSD website project team, in collaboration with the district’s website vendor, Finalsite, conducted the Listen & Learn phase of the project. The Listen & Learn phase was designed to seek feedback from the BSD learning community and find out their collective needs and expectations from district and school websites. BSD staff, families, students and community members shared insights that will help inform the direction of the new websites.
Website User Survey
The Website User Survey, conducted from March 14 to April 10, offered the entire BSD learning community an opportunity to share their perspectives on the district and school websites. Survey questions were developed in partnership with internal BSD departments and reviewed by Finalsite. They were designed to assess:
- Website user behaviors (why they visit BSD websites, how often they visit, what they use them for, etc.).
- Ease of use (website functions and ability to find information).
- Basic demographic details of participants and their relationships with BSD and its schools.
368 people completed the survey, with a complete breakdown as follows:
- 30 students (middle and high school)
- 197 parents/guardians
- 127 BSD s taff members
- 14 individuals who fall into other categories (including prospective students and families, community partner staff, Bellevue community members and Bellevue School Board members).
Key data points from the survey included:
- 70% of respondents check the district website to view the calendar.
- 35% of respondents check the website to get school or department contact information.
- Other frequent uses of the district site include logging in to ParentVUE (26%) and accessing the Staff Portal (23%).
- 57% of survey respondents either agree or strongly agree that the current district site is easy to understand, and 48% agree or strongly agree that they can easily find the information they are looking for on the district site.
Survey respondents also shared that they hope the website’s new design is more colorful, and the navigation is simplified. For school website pages, respondents shared a desire to have all schools have a similar format, highlight student pictures, include links to social media, and feature an up-to-date activities calendar. Other themes and ideas shared by survey respondents included ways to use the website to:
Share news of community programs and services so more BSD families could learn about available opportunities.
- Highlight the stories of student success and school partnerships with families and PTSAs.
- Promote student voice and identifying the information students wish to access more easily, including mental health supports, college and career planning, and club and activity information.
- Attract new families to the district through the stories of new and innovative programs.
Supported by the district’s website project team, Finalsite facilitated 15 focus groups — eight in person and six virtually — to gather information directly from BSD students, parents/guardians, educators, school and district leaders, administrative staff, and community partners.
To allow for broad participation across groups, focus group sessions were held at various locations and times over several weeks. Student sessions were held at schools during the school day. Staff and family sessions were held in the evening, in person at district offices and virtually. Sessions for community partners were held during regularly-scheduled partnership meetings. Interpretation and translation services were offered to all participants.
During the focus groups, participants were encouraged to provide candid feedback to prompts informed, in part, by the Website User Survey. Members in all groups shared anecdotes of how they utilized district and school websites and ways they hoped the new site would provide greater ease of access. Participants had different levels of experience and understanding of websites and offered diverse perspectives about current and future website needs, priorities and challenges.
Summary of Findings as Reported by Finalsite
Upon completion of the Website User Survey and focus groups , Finalsite provided several actionable findings based on what the BSD community shared.
- The current BSD website is rich with information, but adequate information is not fast or easy to access.
- Users struggle to find messages previously communicated to them through different methods — such as direct email or principal newsletters.
- Simple information is difficult to find or not on the website at all.
- Members of the district community were unaware or not up to date on the district’s strategic plan and goals.
- Some parts of the website navigation structure use wording or jargon that is confusing to non-staff audiences.
- There is a difference in how schools across the district communicate with their audiences, which also varies from how the district communicates. Some information is emailed multiple times, whereas other information is not shared in a timely manner with the appropriate audiences.
- The BSD homepage currently does not have a strong brand identity — there is no overarching positioning statement present, or refined messaging to communicate or support its position in the marketplace.
Based on the information gained through both the survey and focus groups , Finalsite made recommendations in three areas:
District Website Homepage
Prioritize the following elements on both the homepage, and some key landing pages of the new district website:
- Clear and concise navigation
- Up to date calendar
- Core messaging/positioning statements clearly stated
- Video and high-quality photography on the home page
- Written or video testimonials to show the various identities that comprise BSD’s learning community
- District map or gallery of facilities and school grounds
- Infographics to highlight key features of the district
- News posts
- Social media feeds
- Streamline communications across the board with a similar style newsletter to go out at the same time from the schools. It is important to have consistency across the school networks as parents/guardians in different schools will be able to expect the same thing across the board.
- Create an announcement board to enable communication to be found in a single location beyond the inbox.
- Take a mobile-friendly approach to communication. Provide information and news alerts via notifications.
- The homepage should be primarily focused on the family looking at the district to enroll. Specially designated sections for currently enrolled students and families will offer a space where those audiences can find “need to know” information.
The Listen and Learn phase of the project is now complete, and the Design and Development phase has begun. In this phase, BSD project staff and Finalsite will consider the insights and requirements gathered in previous project phases, including an audit conducted by the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA), and industry best practices to develop a website design that best meets the needs of the BSD learning community. Both parties will collaborate to determine which recommendations and feedback should be prioritized and implemented, particularly those that align with the intention to create an improved website experience that tells BSD’s story and meets our districtwide goals. Key focus areas will include user experience, equity, quality control, maintenance and security.
The BSD learning community will be engaged periodically throughout this phase to allow the design team to get initial reactions to the website changes and be responsive to user feedback, when possible, before finalizing the design.
Previous updates and more information about this project is available on the New BSD Websites webpage. Project information and future opportunities for feedback will also continue to be shared with the BSD community via email, text message and on social media.