How Well Does This Web Site Work?

How Well Does This Web Site Work?

Beaverton (Ore.) School District www.beaverton.k12.or.us

The Beaverton School District is the third-largest district in Oregon, encompassing 57 square miles just outside Portland, with 38,000 students and 4,100 staff members in 44 schools.

DESIGN

The home page is not particularly inviting but is well organized, with sections divided into clearly defined boxes. The page is also short and concise, so users do not have to scroll down an unnecessarily long page.

A consistent Print icon at the top of every page opens up convenient printerfriendly versions of any information displayed, encouraging users to make copies.

A uniform layout is well maintained throughout the pages of the schools in the district. Unfortunately, many of the school pages offer little content beyond statistics, forms and calendars.

NAVIGATION

The menu bar near the top of the page is consistent throughout all of the pages, making most navigation straightforward.

The Site Map, easily accessible via the prominent icon at the top of every page, is clear and well organized, and is displayed in a "family-tree" style.

The Search feature uses the powerful Google engine and works well.

A Quick Links dropdown menu provides users with commonly needed links in a single location.

INTERACTION WITH THE USER

Dozens of links on the pages use PDF formats, which are often awkward to use, and some are very slow to load.

The Web Site Comments page enables users to immediately notify administrators of any problems or errors on district pages.

The purpose of the Tools & Resources box is unclear. It lists redundant links found elsewhere in the site menu and would serve as Quick Links if there were not already such a menu at the top of the page.

There are good Human Resource pages listing job openings. However, the icon for bus driver positions is annoyingly redundant, as it is shown repeatedly in several locations. But the online forms make it easy to apply for positions.

SCHOOL TO HOME INTERACTION

The Open Books icon on the home page links directly to financial information, with the appropriate subtitle "See where your $$$ goes."

There are very good resources for non-English speakers, including welcome messages in 5 languages and enrollment orientation videos for parents in 7 languages, including Vietnamese, Russian and Japanese. While these videos are excellent, they should be more easily accessible from the home page, instead of being relegated to a separate "ESL" page, which is difficult to find.

In the For Parents section, instructions are given for accessing teacher Web pages. yet it is strange that users are expected to type complicated addresses and insert the teacher's name, with no list of which teachers have sites. Educator Web pages should be much easier to access.

The Curriculum page includes a comment box for users to submit their thoughts about content that should be included.

USE OF ONLINE TECHNOLOGY

The Media Showcase in the middle of the home page displays recent video clips produced by district students, highlighting unique projects in content areas including art, music, athletics and science.

The Library Resources page includes links to every school library and their online research tools, such as periodical databases, video links and encyclopedias.

Unfortunately, there are no access provisions for disabled users.

UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION

Users can stay informed of district news regularly, as well as pertinent safety and security alerts, with the RSS feed available from the home page.

The In the News tab on the home page lists education items from various news sources on the Web.

The Safety icon in the top right of the home page fl ashes red when there is an urgent security alert, and provides up-to-theminute information about the situation.

The prominent Superintendent's Message icon on the home page links to a regularly updated column, as well as information about conferences and workshops the superintendent has recently attended.

Kurt O. Dyrli is a contributing writer for District Administration. To be considered for a district site review, contact Judy Hartnett at jhartnett@edmediagroup.com.


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