Los Angeles – School Website Redesign

We recently launched a newly designed school website for Friends of AMPA, the nickname for the Academy of Music & Performing Arts at Alexander Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, a popular magnet high school program in LAUSD (LA Unified School District).

AMPA’s old website had been built within a hosted solution called Edlio. Edlio is a popular, package-website-design company with a focus on educational organizations. Edlio has developed a “custom” solution that anticipates the online needs of a school, and crafts prebuilt packages around it. There are definite benefits and drawbacks to using a packaged solution. Here are a few.

Pros and Cons of using a school website solution like Edlio

Benefits:

Drawbacks:

 Low cost to get up and running  Potentially higher cost over time due to high annual licensing fees.
 Pre-built educational features  Rigid features that allow little customization
 They host and maintain the website code for you  You don’t “own” the website (only the content)
 Online support  Slow response time to requests

 

In AMPA’s case, they weren’t happy with the website because most of the website elements were behind an interface that the AMPA content team were unable to access. Edlio was costing thousands of dollars every year. Their template was not mobile friendly, and many elements were rapidly becoming outdated. Edlio tech support was slow to respond to AMPA’s requests. On top of that, the domain was held by Edlio as well, within Edlio’s proprietary GoDaddy account. Our solution of creating a stand-alone website was the best option to give AMPA the control and flexibility they needed.

We worked with the Friends of AMPA board’s key stakeholders to identify a responsive theme that would work for their content requirements and decided to build the site in WordPress. We customized the theme to suit their branding guidelines and populated the homepage with exciting imagery, taken on campus, to motivate various audiences including prospective students, potential ticket buyers, current students, and community members.

Our redesigned AMPA website is on the left and the old AMPA (Edlio) website is on the right.

edlio website redesign

A customized school website solution

The primary goal of the website’s backend functionality was to be extremely customizable and user-friendly for future content managers and contributors. The theme we selected came with many pre-built modules that are very easy to customize. We created various templates and layouts that AMPA could choose from when creating a new page.

We recommended migrating the DNS to Google Domains and hosting the site on Pantheon.io, known for their secure “docker” container server configurations and easy development workflow.

WordPress, like Drupal, works well for teams, because you can assign different levels of roles and permissions to different users. This will work well for the AMPA website as well, as they will have rotating volunteer and staff help manage the site through the years. We provided training and instructional documents that covered all the basic website editing tasks.

If your educational organization is in need of a new website and has questions about how best to proceed, contact Executionists.

Visit AMPA: https://hamiltonmusic.org/

Richard Parr
by Richard Parr
Posted: May 5, 2018