Good things come to those who wait. The community of Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in Houston, US knows the expression well. It took over two years from decision to launch on the school's sleek new website.
Sometimes an extended wait means trouble. However, Duchesne Academy's measured pace resulted from positive circumstances: its growth and its administration's thorough exploration of the school's identity, including how to best target its online presence.
Duchesne Academy has relied on Finalsite to provide beautiful, state-of-the-art web design and support for years. When the company announced its foray into responsive web design in 2013, long-time communications associate Rachel Blasdell, hoped to hop on that train fast. With loads of prospective students and families using mobile devices, she wanted them to be able to get to Duchesne Academy wherever, whenever.
Patience would be required. Duchesne Academy's board and administration had embarked on a "rebranding" effort with an outside firm. Any redesign would have to wait for its outcome. Another spoon in the stew was the school's ongoing search for a communications director.
Happily, the new director, Jessica McDunn, had just shepherded her previous employer through website redesign. Meanwhile, the rebranding had finished. One of its results was the decision to again rely on Finalsite to help create and implement a new vision for the Duchesne Academy site.
After only a couple weeks on the job, McDunn and her partner-in-crime Blasdell attended Finalsite University (FinalsiteU) in Glastonbury CT. FinalsiteU, a conference about all things digital, is a great way to gain an insider look at best practices for school websites. Prior to FinalsiteU, says McDunn, "I really didn't know what I was working on behind the scenes. Thanks to FSU, I went into the redesign process so much more fully informed."
McDunn and Blasdell left FinalsiteU charged up and ready to go. One big change in mind-set centred on the website's orientation. Formerly, Blasdell says, they tried to have the site be all things to all people–students, visitors and staff. "Now people understand that the forward facing pages focus on prospective families. Internally, it's the portals." For example, Finalsite Learn helps connect people already part of the Duchesne community through file sharing, media galleries, calendars and a digital gradebook. They even have an eighth grader who uses Learn to do an online magazine!
After what sometimes seemed like forever, the actual redesign ultimately went very quickly! Finalsite University took place in June 2016. With expert guidance from Finalsite, all their homework done, and an administration eager for product, Duchesne Academy's new digital home went live January 2nd, 2017. They haven't looked back!