Chapter 4

Use this to better understand some of the terms used in building and maintaining your school website.




Homepage banner or pop-up feature used for posting important and time-critical information and urgent news



U.S. ADA-compliance laws require school websites to be fully accessible to people with disabilities. Compliance is ongoing.



Blogs (derived from weblog) enable users to generate content and allow interactivity of readers through comments. Blogs great vehicles for schools to share information from school leaders



Calendar functionality at the minimum should provide district and school individual calendars and the ability for different users to manage them. They also should provide iCal feeds and the ability to sync events to their personal calendars. Additional features include the ability for custom views (i.e. multiple calendars into a single view that you specify) and notifications.



Content Management System. A collaborative software system that provides website authoring, collaboration, and administration tools designed to allow users with little knowledge of web programming to create and manage website content.


Content repurposing

Modifying or reusing content that’s been created in a new or different way or medium. (e.g., tailoring a letter from the superintendent originally sent to teachers and staff is repurposed for parents)


Design themes

The unifying idea or motif that brings a website together in a cohesive manner, including complementary fonts, colors, and layout features.


Discussion forum

Online discussion groups that can be used for students, teachers or parents. Forums have dedicated administrators (e.g., teachers) that oversee submissions. Forums also provide email notifications and search functionality.


Document management

A system to manage documents digitally to streamline how they are accessed, tracked and stored; effective for efficiency and transparency in managing, for example, accounting, student, and human resources



The ability to sell items or accept credit cards on your website.  Utilized for paying student fees, selling spirit wear, school supplies, fund-raising. There are many third-party cloud-based solutions that you can run side-by-side with your website but can limit full integration.



Online tool that gives users the ability to create and email a digital newsletter by selecting content shared throughout the website. Email newsletters with responsive design enable viewers to to the device it’s being viewed on.


Email blasts

Sending emails in large volume to parents, for example, using a database. Typically comes with customizable templates for adding branded school elements and images.


Emergency alert banner

Allows an administrator to create an alert message that appears across the website. Suitable for emergency announcements (e.g.,school cancellation,  special announcements.)


Faculty/staff profiles

DIgital touchpoint that includes all specified contact data (e.g., image, contact details, biography). Often used with staff directory.


Form builder

Online tool to create forms that can be placed throughout the website. Tools typically give the user the ability to add all the fields and various ways to ask a question – Multiple lists, text, pull-down menus, etc. Data is collected into a database


Friendly URLs

Very important for search engines and ease of sharing and communicating pages. For example, or much easier to read than This will also make it easy to your to set up page names to promote.


Homework dropbox

An online tool for posting, scheduling, sharing and collecting student assignments.


Language translator

Automatically translates your website in various languages. Google Translator, which can easily be implemented to your website, is becoming a standard for this functionality.


Mobile app

Software designed to run on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.



Messages that are "pushed" to a predetermined group of people via email or text message. Usually used in bulk to communicate key time-sensitive information.


Parent portal

Portal allows parents to log in and access child’s progress and other academic-related information such as assignments, links, grades, videos, etc. Depending on what other systems the school has in place, there may be overlay in functionality.


Photo galleries

Allows easy upload of multiple images and automatically resizes the images and generates thumbnails. Galleries can be shared throughout the website.


PDF accessibility

The ability for people with disabilities to have full access to PDFs (an ADA-compliance requirement)



Allow users to upload audio files such as a MPG4 which generates a feed that allows visitors to subscribe to and receive a notification when a new file is uploaded. Most apps enable new episodes to appear in their dashboard as they are published.



Online tool that allows the user to create interactive polls with a variety of question types and capture the data. Also provides an archive of date and can easily be shared on website pages.


Pop-up windows

Timed website notifications that appear on the viewer’s screen, pushing information or desired action to the website visitor



A user/content manager with permission to create, edit, publish web content


RSS feed (news)

RSS - Real Simple Syndication allows you to generate a feed of your content in a form that can be shared. This also provides an opt-in benefit for visitors that want to receive the latest updates of content.


Responsive design

A website designed for optimal viewing on any device – from any mobile device to computer screens – to minimize resizing, scrolling, panning.



Service Level Agreement. a contract between your CMS provider and you that specifies the extent of the services offered. 


Scheduling content and expiration dates

Tools either built in or added to a website or social media channel that enable users to automatically schedule posts and control expiration options. 


Site maps

A ‘diagram’ of all  the pages, videos, and other files on your site, and the hierarchical relationships between them. 


Social media integration

Website is friendly with social media sites, allowing content to be easily shared by visitors of the website or website administrators. Other integrations include social media feeds which you can embed on pages of other forms of sharing social media content on your website.


Staff directory

A listing of all personnel in a school district or a specific school. Usually includes basic contact information and can include additional information such as photos and personal biographies


Streaming videos

Uploaded videos converted to a format that can be easily viewed online. Current standards use HTML5 which allows videos to be viewed on phones and tablets. YouTube is a popular low-cost option.


Text messaging

Similar to ‘e-mail blasting’, allows school administrators to send text messages to individuals or groups. This is typically done through a dedicated third-party service that specializes in text notifications.



Built-in web content translation services to engage multi-cultural families and meet accessibility laws



Web Content Accessibility Guidelines set forth by W3C that establish rules and protocol for assuring web content is universally accessible 


Website administrator (web admin)

Person or group responsible for the overall management of the website. Has full permissions, grants permissions, and is an authority on managing the site.



Collaborative tools that allow teachers and students to create content together. (e.g., Wikipedia online encyclopedia that anyone can submit changes and add content.) Wikis provide the ability to easily track and approve changes along with a history log.



Planned repeatable communications used to streamline and automate responses (e.g., determining who and how a school responds to social media dialogue)