School Information? This District Has an App for That — and a User-Friendly Website, Too

Effective layouts and aesthetic appeal aren’t just essential for business website design — schools need to take note of the benefits of a well-crafted homepage, too. And one Illinois school district did just that by ordering not only a fully functioning site but a mobile app for parents, students and the community, too.

Danville School District No. 118 in Illinois made a variety of changes to their website (danville.k12.il.us) to help users navigate the site better. Not only does it feature drop down menus, says the site’s designer, DeWayne Towe, but it has a frequently asked question section with a Google search tool embedded within the site.

Towe described it as a “one-stop” page, with answers to questions such as “When is registration?” and “How do I sign my child up for extracurriculars?”

“We’re really excited. We were in desperate need of a new one,” Towe said.

The district’s website also includes several other changes, such as a responsive design and wider format that changes with the user’s screen size. This means that all devices will display the page the same way, without having to zoom in or out.

The site also features interactive teacher pages and sections on the school district’s clubs and organizations.

“Changes like this will allow both parents and students to adequately utilize the technology available for them,” says Eric Hall,President of Hall Marketing Group.  “Hopefully tools like this will allow students to get more out of their education, and parents to stay informed about their child’s education more easily and efficiently.”

The district also launched their School Connect app, which is available for free for both Apple and Android devices and gives parents and district members access to weather-related dismissals, emergency notifications, reminders about events, sports scores and other notifications. The app was designed and will be maintained by an Oklahoma-based Jostens company.

Kim Norton, principal of Northeast Elementary Magnet School in Danville, has already begun using the app to notify parents about upcoming events. Towes explains another potential use for it, however: for keeping parents and students safe.

“Their big selling point as far as how it works was when the tornado came through Moore, Okla., it was the end of the school day,” Towe said. “Administration sent out a notification to parents: Your kids are safe, they’ve all taken shelter, the buses aren’t running, do not come to the school. Once the tornado passed, they were to send out another notification to parents.”

The app and website were the result of six months of work by Towes and the Danville School District.

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