Thursday, May 07, 2009

First Post: Removing the Curtain

Hello, and welcome to your new Pasco County Schools web site! We have been working very hard behind the scenes to bring you an exciting new experience, and we are very proud to finally have a chance to show you the results. Allow me to take a moment to tell you about some of the more important changes. Starting with the most obvious, the look of the new site is meant to be friendly and inviting. The content and page elements have been carefully styled to make navigation and reading much easier. The design was created with an eye towards modern web standards and uses modern technologies such as CSS (cascading style sheets) to guarantee a consistent look throughout. The site should look great in the latest release of every major browser. Older browsers, such as Internet Explorer 6, will not be able to display every element as intended, but our use of the aforementioned standards guarantees that all of the site’s content will be available to every visitor, no matter which browser they use. Now for some detail on the pieces that make up that new design. First is one you’ve definitely noticed: the persistent menu bar. We’ve selected a number of useful shortcuts for our various visitors and made them constantly available at the top of the browser window. This should make for some very quick navigation between the various parts of our site. Also found on every page, right at the bottom, is a new footer that contains more links, shortcuts to our school and department sites, and our general contact information. We think you’ll find it nearly as useful as the menu bar, so “don’t forget the footer!” Our home page has been upgraded to an online newsroom, complete with featured stories (in the box at the top of the page), shorter articles from our departments (in the two leftmost columns), and links to major press coverage and our media releases (in the rightmost column). Beneath the central area you will find a number of important links, most transferred from our old home page. The shorter news stories will also be subdivided on the various department sites, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to keep up-to-date on District happenings. Note that the layout of the home page may change slightly in the coming weeks as we figure out what works best for our visitors, but the content should not. We are committed to using our new site to tell you all about all the great things happening in our school system, and encourage you to visit often. Interestingly enough, the largest and most important change is one you can’t really see at all. The new site is built using a piece of software called a content management system (CMS for short); this software allows us to utilize additional employees in the roles of author, editor and publisher. With multiple employees submitting news and events we will be able to present more information, and that in a more timely manner. The CMS has also brought major changes to the way we manage all of our web content, from staff contacts to our Educator Passport listings. As you can imagine, a major transition such as this can not be finished overnight. There is still much to do. Instead of trying to manage content on two sites however, we decided to launch today with our primary pages and the ESE and Communications Department sites completed. The rest of the department sites will be moved over to the new system and new look over the next several months, and will continue to use the older design until they are finished. There will undoubtedly be some small speed bumps and growing pains as we implement the new look throughout. Please bear with us during this transition. We promise to get them all ironed out. We hope you are as excited as we are about the new direction for our site. Check this section in the future for the latest news regarding the progress of our transition. In addition, I will also be posting quick tips about site features as they are added. In return, why not take a moment to let us know what you think about the new look? It's quick, easy, and we really want to hear from you!