After a few months of hard work, prep, edits, and making sure everything runs smoothly, Watertown-Mayer School District will be launching its new website Friday January 31. The website was created with the goals of the district in mind, as well as the wants from the community and staff.

“This week I’ll be sending it around to staff so they can make sure everything is accurate so we are all set for going live on Friday,” said Natasha Monsaas-Daly, director of information and learning technology for Watertown-Mayer Schools.

It’s been months of work, whether that was listening to the community on what they would like to see or finding the right template for the school to use. Last fall, it was decided that Blackboard would be perfect for Watertown-Mayer to use, as it was easy to make edits and an affordable option. After that, it was time to build. With that came understanding what worked and what didn’t, what the community and staff liked and used the most, and how to make it all work for the staff putting it together.

The first aspect of the new website many users will notice is the new look. Users will see a banner with the new logo atop photos of the students, staff, and school events. The front page will have rotating announcements as well as pop-up alerts if needed, such as for a snow day. The banner still has separate tabs, but things have been condensed quite a bit. Instead of the pull-down menu for, say, the elementary school, opening two or three more pull-downs, you click on the school you want. Once on that page, all schools will have a navigation menu to the left with tabs like About Us, Staff Directory, and so on.

“All the school pages look the same for consistency,” said Monsaas-Daly. “The only one with an extra tab is the high school for college and career, but that’s the only one that’s different.”

Along with the more efficient menus, there is also a set of buttons for instant navigation. These buttons are the most commonly viewed things, like the lunch menu, a full staff directory with a search function, employment options, and more. These buttons are also up in the banner for even faster navigation.

As a bonus, when you’re looking around the website, a path of “breadcrumbs” is created in the upper left. Got lost, but don’t want to go four steps back? You can see the path you took via the breadcrumbs and choose where you want to return to. But if you’re looking for something specific, you can also use the search bar to find exactly what you need.

The website is also ADA compliant in every way.

“It actually won’t let you post a photo without providing a description,” said Monsaas-Daly.

Almost all documents, including school board meeting minutes, lunch menus, and more are able to be downloaded and printed so users don’t need to access the website at all times for them.

Though everything is working, there are a few things that haven’t been completed as of yet.

“I’d say it’s 95 percent complete,” said Monsaas-Daly.

One aspect that needs a little more time is the calendar. The calendar is currently run through a different system on the website, and staff are working on a way to transfer the information over without having duplicates of events.

As for an app, that won’t be until later, according to Monsaas-Daly. However, even though there won’t be an app, the website is completely mobile friendly, and the mobile version is essentially a mini-version of the computer set up, with all the same buttons and tabs to keep everything consistent.

While almost complete, that doesn’t mean that feedback is no longer appreciated. Users can scroll all the way down if there’s an issue, inaccuracy, or just something missing to send feedback or ask questions to Monsaas-Daly and her team. The URL is staying the same - just type in wm.k12.mn.us to see what’s new and explore.

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