For my photo essay, I decided to look at five different school district landing pages:
1. Montgomery County, Maryland, https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/
I was pleasantly surprised to realize how much I liked this landing page. The website features scrolling images with text for more description as well as a plethora of other resources. I think I was most surprised by this website because it features many best practices including a site map and easily usable navigation links so the user always knows where he or she is on the site. Furthermore, the web page is not photo heavy, but the photos used do have a cohesive purpose.
2. Prince George’s County Public Schools, Maryland http://www1.pgcps.org/
There are several things I like about this landing page:
1. The website is extremely accessible.
In the upper left hand corner, users have the option to both change language and text size. I think that’s really forward thinking for a school district to have those options, so I appreciate the initiative.
2. The option to donate to the school system.
I think the website developer was extremely smart to set up the donation section the way he/she did. The “DONATE NOW” button is not intrusive and is incorporated in such a way with social media buttons that it makes donating seem more social than anything else.
3. Calendar on homepage.
The landing page is structured so the calendar appears above the fold of the webpage. I think that’s a really smart move on PG County’s part because it helps parents have easy access to events.
3. Carroll County, Maryland, http://www.carrollk12.org/
Carroll County’s website is very student focused. The website has a set of about five scrolling images and the majority of the images/blurbs are highlight students and student successes. Furthermore, any user who goes onto the site is easily able to find news about the county because it is featured front and center on the homepage. The design is a bit simple, but I think it’s effective for the user demographic.
4. Baltimore County, Maryland, http://www.bcps.org/
I think the layout of this website is extremely interesting. The grid style coupled with an image heavy webpage is a unique way to portray information but I think works well. A few things to also note:
1. This website also has the change language feature
2. The county tries to engage users via social media (as depicted in the image above)
3. The website is extremely colorful. I find it interesting that there’s so much color on a public school site with adult users, especially in comparison with the other MD county websites. However, I think the color scheme works well and makes the county seem like a very happy and inviting environment.
5. Frederick County, Maryland, http://www.fcps.org/site/default.aspx?PageID=1
Out of the five sites, this is my least favorite, however I do think there are some key take aways from this landing page:
1. There’s a sign in link easily accessible to users. My assumption is this sign in feature is probably for staff, but I think it’s smart that they have it right on the homepage and easily accessible.
2. The slider images are not cluttered. Each image speaks for itself and users have the ability to scroll at their leisure through the images using the arrows.
3. The colored boxes help to differentiate topical information. Often times websites chunk all information together haphazardly. I like how this county puts like information in designated areas on the homepage.