You've decided to embark on a new website and have chosen our Signature Theme series - how exciting! We are thrilled to have you make this choice and hope that your new website will be used in great ways to continue your mission and organization goals.
There's a lot to do in building a new website, whether you are updating / upgrading your site or starting from scratch. This page should help define the steps involved, and provide you with some helpful resources.
Your total project timeline is based on your school or academy. The time School Site needs to complete your Signature Theme site is between 5 to 8 weeks, after we have received all files and information, as well as your payment. The timeline will be extended if we do not receive your approval of the designs within 2 business days.
It's important to realize that the timeline for crafting your Signature Theme does not represent the entire process of building a new site. You and your team will be responsible for:
In our experience, the timelines we see for a new website project - from start to finish (go live!) - average...
If your organization is working with a large group of decision makers, re-writing or creating new original copy (text), updating branding, logo or even doing photo shoots for the new site, please plan ahead - these things take time. They are, however, critically important to the success your new website will provide your school or academy!
Of course, there are ways to fast track a site, and we're happy to offer you suggestions that will work for your site goals and your school or academy.
Before we can start crafting your site, we need to know which theme you want to use. Our theme library is growing and changing often, but we recommend talking with us to help narrow down the options for you.
As you look at the library, try to look at the type of content on the home page, and the placement of the content. Then look at your website goals.
Each theme has its own unique personality and that may play into what you want on your new site. Each theme also has a combination of options of content tools.
Once you've selected the theme you want to use for your website, contact your content client services manager with your theme selection. You'll then be provided with a project worksheet for that specific theme.
A good website is built on solid content and navigation. Without proper navigation, visitors can get frustrated and leave your site. Today, most visitors (users) expect to find what they are looking for in seconds. Delivering a good user experience requires navigation that is easy to use, short and direct.
Organize your content in a way that makes sense for your visitors and regular site users. Lead with short main (top) navigation, keeping those as your primary, or key, pages (also called landing pages).
When you build a Signature Theme with School Site, each main navigation is also a navigation category or directory, and you can add pages underneath those categories. The organization of what pages go under what category is the essential building of a sitemap.
If you are building a new site with School Site, you do not have to create a complete sitemap ahead of time. All we require are the basics of main navigation (categories/directories) and level 1 pages. We greatly encourage you to take the time to create a sitemap though, as having that initial organization will help you think through what theme you want to choose, what content you need to collect or create, and how much work and overall time your project will take you and your team. To help you out, we'll provide you with a simple worksheet that you can use to build your initial sitemap.
Don't sweat it! All the subpages in each category are editable and easily moved in our CMS. Your main navigation are the only links not customer editable - but the content on those landing pages is also easily edited and moved around. It's one of the best advantages of our CMS - how easily you can manage your content!
There are a few core elements needed to build your new website.
Those items include:
To build your site, you'll need to work on collecting the initial content. We recommend that you put a game plan together and focus on these first priorities:
Once you've selected which theme you want to build, we'll send you a link to an online theme project worksheet. On this form, you'll complete all the necessary details for your project. Each worksheet is unique to the Signature Theme, and the available options that theme offers.
You can expect the following:
Upon completion of your theme worksheet(s), which you'll submit online, we'll be in contact with you. Once we've reviewed your information, your project will be submitted to our design queue.
Next, we'll email you static proofs (JPGs) of your website design customizations - you'll be able to see what your site will look like, complete with your logo, org name, applicable branding & colors, and content/section selections!
A few key items to remember when in the design proofing phase:
We will require your "green light" approval on the designs before we can release the site into your hands.
During the design phase of your project, we recommend doing some form of content strategy. Learn more about a recommended simple form of content strategy here. For some larger websites, this can be very involved, but for most of our customers, a simple version of this in a spreadsheet format can be an invaluable tool.
NOTE: if you are building your text content in documents, be sure to build them as plain text only, or be prepared to redo all formatting when you build content in your site.
Once your site is released to you, you will receive a training session with our support team. You'll be able to login to Site Manager and get started building content!
Your home page will contain locked tools, and if any of those tools automatically feed content (upcoming events, announcement database, blog, etc.), that feed will be in place. For other tools that contain editable content (slide show, content editors, pictorial announcements, etc.) you'll be able to select Update Content from the tool menu and add your own content in, removing our test content.
All interior pages are blank and ready for you to build. Remember that you'll want to add a banner image for nearly all pages, especially your landing pages. Your Signature Theme is able to produce all the variable page layout options in Site Manager (4 different options) and has customized elements that match your design for both the right side and left interior navigation. To learn more about page layouts, contact support - they will be happy to answer your questions.
It's critically important that you build all your content as plain text (clean of any formatting, MS Word formatting, and/or HTML). Copying and pasting text from one source into your new site can be done using the Paste as Plain Text option. Then, use the formatting tools within Site Manager to create headers, indents, bullets, and more.
Remember that not all text should just be in a content editor. Use the tools you have in your toolbox to help create the content layout that's best for each page. Tools like the Column Display, Expand / Collapse, and even Links List and/or Content Resource tools are ideal for text content with some images, whereas adding a slide show, form creator, and links list on the right side can help create the visual and easy-to-find information page that you need. When in doubt - contact support. We're happy to help in any way - even just to give you some ideas of how to lay out your content!
If you've been organizing and building your content as we recommend, many customers find that adding content to their new site can move quickly. While every customer and project is unique, some customers have been ready to go live within 2 weeks, whereas others have taken more time to build and have gone live in 4 months. This is entirely up to you and your team. We are ready to assist your go-live process whenever you are ready!
After you've completed your new website with our Signature Theme series, we want to help you keep making sure that it continues to be used in great ways to continue your mission and organizational goals.
Once your site has been released to you for adding content, maintenance pricing goes into effect. Maintenance pricing for the Signature theme is intended for you to be able to request updates to your site within the guidelines of the product and your specific Theme. Here are some commonly requested items that you can request through support for maintenance:
All of our maintenance work for Signature themes is done by individual quotes. If you would like to request maintenance for your site, email support and they will provide you with a quote before doing the work.