After nearly a year of development, a new CPS website is now online, with improved features that will better serve students, parents and school communities. Designed with parents in mind, this cleaner, faster site is accessible from any mobile device and directs users quickly and easily to the information that is most relevant to them.
“This website is our forward-facing public image, so it should match the high quality of work being done at CPS every day,” said Kelly Weiss, Web Production Manager for the District’s Web Services Team. “I think our stakeholders will find it to be a helpful, easy-to-use resource.”
The redesign began in fall 2013 with a massive audit. Over the course of several months, the Web Services team gave the site a thorough scrubbing, archiving 800 pages and deleting 1,600 documents and resources that were no longer relevant to the District. They then went about the business of building a responsive site that could be easily accessed from any computer or mobile device.
“That’s one of the biggest wins for our users,” said Weiss of the site’s mobile capabilities. “We’ll be reaching our families where they are, whether that’s a smart phone, a tablet, or any other mobile device.”
CPS is the first major school District in the country to create a responsive, mobile-friendly website – one that allows users to search by topic, audience, or age.
“We put ourselves in the shoes of parents,” said Weiss. “For example – a parent whose child is entering Kindergarten doesn’t need information on high school graduation requirements. They need a search function that easily directs them to information relevant to a 5-year-old. That is what we’ve worked to accomplish with this site.”
The site contains a visual representation of these age groups – a CPS timeline with images of children growing from pre-Kindergarten to high school graduation. Ironically, this image mirrors the theme of the new CPS logo, also publicly unveiled this week.
“We had no idea when we were working on the timeline that it would align so well with the logo,” said Weiss. “When we found out, we felt this great energy and synergy. Something in the universe was telling us this was the right way to go.”
The new CPS logo has been in the works since last spring, when CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett challenged students in grades 6-12 to come up with an original design to represent their schools. Nearly 300 designs were submitted and ten finalists chosen. These designs were then voted on by representatives from the Mayor’s Office, the Board of Education, the Student Advisory Council, and the CTU, as well as CEO Byrd-Bennett.
In the end, two designs were chosen, and the student artists worked with a graphic designer to combine and shape the new logo. Like the timeline that adorns the new website, its distinctive design represents CPS students growing and ultimately graduating from high school ready for success in college and career.
The new CPS look reflects the goals set forth in the CEO’s Action Plan – a strategy that insists on a high-quality education for every student and puts in place the supports, investments and accountability systems needed to achieve that goal.
“This is an important moment for us as a District,” said Weiss. “We’ve created a look and feel that is modern, and one that showcases CPS not as a thrown together bureaucracy, but as a cohesive organization that understands the needs of its parents, students, and community.”