By Noah Wali
OES is one of the most prestigious schools in the nation and has a plethora of technological resources.
Students, upon arrival, are provided with relatively new Macbook Airs, have unlimited access to scientific research, and receive knowledge from some pretty smart people. OES still has its struggles, however, and one of the issues that OES has been reluctant to fix is their website.
OES recently rolled out a new website that included an easy to navigate mobile site along with a new design, layout, and purpose chock full of new photos from “legit” photographers (yours truly would know) that make the site “dreamy.”
People have been going crazy. Students are surfing the site for photos of themselves, Chris Myers is looking for his link to the library, and teachers are perusing the site for the Essential Competencies. The website looks great at first “site.” But as one dives down deeper into the secrets of the upgrade, they’ll begin to uncover the flaws (and successes) of this new and important change.
To begin with, I talked to Karen Crandal, the marketing and communications director of OES. Her team manages the website, advertising, social media and publicity (typically in partnership with other sectors of the school). She started working here in August, and the moment she came in, plans for the new site were already sitting on her desk.
“It was such a cool project.”
Most of the staff knew the change was coming since last Spring, and it took a team of 40 to complete the project over 5 months, beginning November first, and ending right before Spring break. The first “public” release came via Head of School Mo Copeland’s all school email.
In regards to the notoriety of the website outside of OES, it’s fair to say that things could have been marketed better, as many people outside of OES are unfamiliar with the new site.
The lack of publicity notwithstanding, the site looks great and gives OES a new voice for itself, showing off its credentials as a world class school. Karen tells me the site will never stop being updated, as there are always ways to improve.
“There was some content on the old site that must have been 10 years old,” Karen told me, “and there’s something like 1400 pages on it.”
Some of the biggest adjustments include the flow and simplicity of the site, the specific information regarding work done with each department and grade level, navigability between on the site (specifically the mobile site), and Karen’s favorite, the employee directory, which offers information and neatness between all 250-plus employees serving our school.
The main focuses that sparked the change for this site were new prospective families, current parents, and present students. The importance of showing off for prospective families was a necessity because with everything becoming technology based, the site was a great way to connect with the new families, and make it easy for them to learn all that OES has to offer.
As for parents, the emphasis on ease with the parent portal, news updates, and the calendar were all big priorities for Karen and her team. Last but not least, for the students, Karen wanted them to feel proud of the school and the work we do here, and to see the page the same way we see OES: beautiful.
The biggest question for a big iPhone user like myself is what happened to the OES app, which was on the app store available to download and had access to the Bon Appetit menu, and the OES calendar — It was dysfunctional in quite a few ways.
“We’re taking it down today… We haven’t built a phone app for this yet. We aren’t rushing into a phone app, since the mobile site is functional,” explained Karen.
Earlier this week, I talked to someone who is not fond of the new site — Dig editor Peter B. Peter didn’t have the kindest words for the site, as he is very passionate about his job as an editor of The Dig: “I don’t like the new OES website because it no longer features any links to our school newspaper The Dig. Instead they decided to feature all the new stories written by the faculty instead of the students. It does look pretty but doesn’t feature enough student work.”
The website is an important piece of the OES identity, and most everyone is glad it’s taken a different path to clarity, elegance, and allure. All who attend OES should be proud of the site and the work Karen and Co. have accomplished for us. We as a school should admire and use the site to its fullest potential.
Update: The Dig is now linked to the OES site! Bookmark us.