Riverside Elementary School District 96 kicked off the start of the holiday season by giving the community a redesigned, more eye-catching website. The website is brighter and is intended to be easier to navigate than the old site, which was heavy on text. 

“The new design was created in an effort to provide a fresh look to the website while increasing access to information and communication to district stakeholders via a more intuitive, icon-based site navigation structure,” said District 96 Director of Innovation and Instructional Technology Don Tufano. “This launch is only the first phase of the new design. In the coming weeks and months, stakeholders will see the creation of additional pages to provide greater access to resources and district-related information.”

Tufano said that the goal of the new website is make sure that visitors can quickly find what they are looking for.

“Making sure that we have resources out there that those who visit the website want to see,” Tufano said. “So understanding what our stakeholders are looking for when they’re coming to the page and making sure that they are within a click or two of getting that information.”

The website now features quick links, a list of upcoming events, news and announcements and links to follow the district or any one of its schools on Facebook and Twitter. 

The district has also changed the company that hosts its website. It previously used a company called MacHighway, which specializes in building and hosting websites for users of Apple’s Macintosh computers. 

While MacHighway was cheap — it only charged $10 a month to host the district’s website — it had problems, Tufano said. Content would sometimes unexpectedly disappear from the website and customer support was only available by web chat and only during regular business hours.

“It hasn’t really been a reliable service,” Tufano said.

So the district dumped MacHighway and hired GoDaddy to host its new website.

While GoDaddy is nearly twice as expensive as MacHighway, nearly $200 a year compared to $120 for MacHighway, the dollar amount is nominal, and Tufano expects better service from GoDaddy.

“GoDaddy will provide us that 24/7 support that we can pick up the phone and call in the event that we have a question,” Tufano said. “And I know that it’s just going to be a more stable environment.”

One District 96 parent who had offered last year to work with the district to improve its outdated website is impressed with the redesigned site.

“It works quick,” said Cristin Monti Evans. “It’s really good. It looks really nice. It’s well-organized. It’s user-friendly. I was able to find everything I was looking for. I like the upcoming events; it looks good.”