South outsources redesign of district website with focus on search features

Molly Stryker, staff reporter

The District 225 Office of Public Relations and Communications has been working on a redesign of the GBS website for the past year that will be revealed in the near future, according to Karen Geddeis, director of public relations and communications.

According to Dr. Lara Cummings, assistant principal for student services, parents and students frustrated by the old website prompted the idea to create a new one.

“Not only was it difficult to find information on the old website, but much of the information on there was outdated,” Cummings said. “It was not a very user-friendly interface in terms of updating information on there, [which] caused a lot of frustration.”

The current site is very text-heavy, which is problematic for its users, Geddeis says. Therefore, the new site will be centered around the idea of searching for the exact information users need.   

“One of the features that we are most proud of is that we’ve built the entire new website around [a] search [feature],” Geddeis said. “Knowing that navigation is something that’s really personal and it only makes sense to the person who designs the navigation, we thought […] what if we just have something like Google, where you come to our home page and it’s just a search bar.”

Additionally, the old website was built by individuals within GBS; however, Geddeis says the new website is being created by a company called American Eagle.

“It’s just so much easier when you can hire out,” Geddeis said. “The folks we consult with have a team of […] 20 to 25 people they can call on as a resource, as opposed to one or two people in house, who maybe have a knack for website design.”

While there is no set launch date, ideally the new site will be revealed sometime before the current school year ends, Geddeis says. There will also be a 30-day overlap when both the new and old websites will be open before the old site closes completely.

“It’s really important that we launch during a regular part of the school year when we have regular traffic on the website because our search function actually functions based on what people are looking for,” Geddeis said. “For example, launching over the summer may not be an ideal time [because] we actually need people using the site.”

According to Geddeis, even after the new site opens, the website will always be improving based on its users’ needs.

“Websites are a work in progress, and we know that when we launch it’ll be good, but it’s never done and we’ll always be adding, we’ll always be improving, we will always be listening and trying to incorporate feedback,” Geddeis said.