It’s time to update your school website for mobile

Smartphones are here to stay. Does your website know that?

mobile-webdesignIf you’ve ever tried to get a button on your iPad to respond to a simple tap without success; squinted to be able to see letters on your mobile phone screen; or spent far too much time riffling through traditional website to get the information that you’re looking for, then you know what poor responsive web design looks and feels like. A term developed by web designer Ethan Marcotte five years ago, responsive design refers to the “planning, development, and creation of a website that’s fluid and optimized to accommodate any screen size.”

With more students, teachers, administrators, and parents toting mobile phones and tablets, an increasing number of K-12 schools are re-thinking their traditional website designs and incorporating responsive design strategies into their new, upgraded, and/or overhauled sites. In doing so, institutions are accommodating the 31 percent of all smartphone owners (and 50 percent of teen smartphone owners) who say they use the internet mostly on their cell phones, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project 2013.

Small Screens, Big Plans, a 2014 mobile focused report compiled by the Consortium of School Networking, advises schools to factor mobile into their content and application strategies, and to “consider how the shift to mobile impacts the services they provide to their students, teachers, administrators, parents, and community.”

In particular, CoSN says schools need to think about their approach to providing information to parents and the community, and to selecting, buying, or building district or school applications. “While many mobile decisions are made at a district level, it is important in developing a strategy to inform and involve stakeholders at the school and classroom levels as well.”

Next page: How some schools are driving more traffic

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