School Business Affairs November 2019

24 NOVEMBER 2019 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS have on search engine rankings. Google gives priority to mobile-friendly websites. If a website doesn’t dis- play responsively on multiple devices, Google’s algo- rithm penalizes the site by bumping it down in search result rankings. Providing a user experience that allows parents, staff, and students to easily access a school’s website pro- vides a one-stop resource that will increase website user engagement and interaction. Accessibility Accessibility is an important issue, with more than 40 million people living with a disability in the United States alone, according to the U.S. Census. For schools, accessibility of websites is not only important, it is the law. Any school or district website that does not com- ply with the WCAG 2.0 or the extended WCAG 2.1 content accessibility guidelines for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it harder for visitors with disabilities to access important information and invites potential lawsuits. The Office of Civil Rights has recently stepped up enforcement of website accessibility with audits of school websites; therefore, it is critical for school offi- cials to understand accessibility principles and guidelines and regularly test their sites’ performance against those guidelines. Evaluate a school’s website in the context of provid- ing a user-friendly experience for everyone. Think about whether or not someone accessing the website would be able to understand the school’s content without the abil- ity to see their screen, use a mouse, or hear a video. Websites that are designed for accessibility include text alternatives to non-text content, content that can be presented in multiple formats, and keyboard navigation in addition to navigation by cursor. Designing accessible websites improves digital customer experience in finding the information they’re looking for on a website. Security and Scalability School websites offer access to student records, personal information, and important legal documentation; there- fore, students’ and employees’ personal data must be safe from cyberthreats. Schools can take several basic steps to maintain a secure website and protect the integrity of data. These security measures include • Enforcing strong passwords. • Removing users when they leave the school or district. • Implementing two-factor authentication, which pro- vides an additional layer of security by asking a user to sign in with a username and password, and then enter a code that is sent via text. Beyond these basics, choosing a digital platform that prioritizes security is imperative. Doing so will safeguard data and provide peace of mind that the website meets compliance requirements. Website Flexibility For most school websites, there are spikes in visitor traffic during busy seasons and dips during the summer months when school isn’t in session. It’s imperative that the school invest in a website that can auto-scale capac- ity up and down as computing requirements change. This means selecting a solution that offers elastic stor- age capacity that provides the storage needed, when it’s needed, growing and shrinking automatically as content and files are added or removed. A flexible, scalable platform will handle large amounts of content from many individual contributors, making it easy to customize websites with content from different departments, grade levels, and functional areas. As a school competes for students and the mindshare of parents across the community, it is more important than ever to transform the school’s web presence and reposition its brand as a high-performing school system. These tips can help improve the school website and elevate its message in the minds of students, parents, and community members alike. Scott Madara is director of web for Solodev, based in Orlando, Florida. Email: Next month in School Business Affairs : Budgeting for Sustainability Harnessing Solar Power Working with Architects Designing accessible websites improves digital customer experience in finding the information they’re looking for on a website.