San Diego County Office of Education’s Content Consolidation Enhances Website User Experience
When the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) started its website project in 2019, the communications team had no idea that a pandemic would derail the plans and launch timeline. They paused their website work and instead turned much of their attention to handling crisis communications and supporting the needs of their communities and schools at the time. As the pandemic continued, they recognized the need to bring on a partner to keep the project moving while they continued to prioritize COVID-related communications. Together, the SDCOE and CEL teams worked in tandem to finish the website redesign and successfully launch the new website in less than four months. This partnership resulted in a 97.96 percent webpage consolidation, making SDCOE’s mobile-friendly site accessible, user-friendly and easier to navigate.
"When we hired CEL to work on a website relaunch, I knew we would be getting the technical skills to efficiently build a new and improved site. What I didn’t know was that we would also be getting thoughtful, dedicated partners who made us feel like we were their only client. When we needed help, the CEL team was only a call or email away; they often got back to me faster than my internal colleagues! The CEL team helped us think through all the things that come up with a website project, but also encouraged us to think beyond our initial launch so that we could achieve our strategic communications goals."
~MUSIC WATSON, CHIEF OF STAFF
Mapping Out a New Direction
Following CEL’s Lifecycle of a Website process, we dug into the SDCOE’s Google Analytics to help in fact finding. We determined the top 100 pages to help in prioritizing content and call-out sections. This allowed our team to restructure the site map, streamline navigation and enhance SEO and searchability for a more positive user experience. The most frequently visited pages are now featured prominently on the homepage to help visitors find information quickly, and we redirected over 5,000 URLs to ensure a seamless site launch.
Utilizing the organization’s vibrant accent color palette, we incorporated consistent, branded web components, including sections, accordion drop-down menus, page pops and “more to explore” call-out sections. These features helped to consolidate the website from 68,759 pages to 1,412 pages while making the mobile-friendly site accessible and easier to navigate.
While we focused on consistency, we also recognized SDCOE includes more than a dozen departments that each have their own personalities. To support those teams and their varying needs, we also developed flexible spaces that are easy for site managers to update and maintain but do not interfere with overall site consistency.
Providing Added Value with a Customized Launch Plan and Trainings
Improving accessibility was a priority for SDCOE. Before launching, we managed a 39.3 percent supplemental consolidation that included reducing the number of PDFs, which are not ADA compliant.
In addition, we focused on enhanced SEO and searchability to provide a more robust and positive user experience. Plus, the team developed specialized pages as a part of their website strategy. One example is the popular resources that were originally shared as PDF links but now are recreated in an accessible format as a landing page on the site. This has boosted both internal engagement with SDCOE staff members and external engagement with employees from schools supported by SDCOE.
Training was a necessary component of this project. First, we established permission sets for SDCOE, which allows managers to update web content and then ping an administrator who can approve the changes and then grant publishing access. Second, we used a train-the-trainer model for the Communications Office and the 50-plus departmental web content managers and content editors. These trainings included the creation of an internal instruction site with customized recordings, screencasts and written tutorials for ongoing professional development with content authors and editors.