What are the objectives of InclineSchools.org?
Our primary objective for this website is to provide potential and existing parents and students with information and insight about the public schools of Incline Village, Nevada. We would hope that such a strong and living portrait of our schools and our village will positively attract potential new residents who share our priority for world-class education. We also expect that this website will further strengthen the involvement of our community in the development of our children.
How did this site come about?
During the spring of 2009 the Incline Schools Reflective task force was sanctioned by Mr. Paul Dugan, Superintendent of the Washoe County Schools, to examine and propose innovative ideas to strenghthen the schools of Incline Village, especially as faced with general economic and enrollment challenges. With the belief that we've been "under-marketing" the quality and accomplishments of our schools, a Marketing subcommittee led by Debbie Hansen was formed. A major recommendation of the subcommittee was to create an "umbrella" website that would aggregate news and event information from the individual schools and thereby present a consistent and positive source of information to the public.
As volunteers and parents, Wayne and Cynthia McClelland designed and developed the website. Our priorities for the site are to:
- meet the objectives stated above, while...
- maximizing marketing appeal,
- minimizing effort to maintain the website,
- and reducing reduntant "information publishing" efforts of school teachers, staff and parents.
What are some of the main features of the site?
- an Overview of the schools and the village, primarily to acquaint prospective residents with the wonders offered by Incline Village
- Quotes from actual past and current students of the Incline schools
- Accomplishments of our schools, including:
- a sampling of colleges attended by recent Incline graduates (including 10 of the top 50 universities and colleges in the country)
- dozens of detailed statistics about our High School, Middle School and Elementary School
- a full listing of the extensive academic, athletic and cultural offerings of each of our schools
- News articles from each of the schools
- News articles related to education and sports as fed from local news organizations (North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, Reno Gazette Journal)
- a comprehensive Calendar integrating events from each of the schools, the varsity sports schedule, and other education-related events
- the ability to easily subscribe to eNewsletters from each of the schools
- Weblinks to more than 100 local organizations and agencies that provide related educational, recreational, cultural, and social services
With all this information, how can the site be low maintenance?
The website is designed to primarily serve as an "aggregator" of information... that is, the site automatically draws information that has been authored by the school offices or from local news agencies, and publishes it on InclineSchools.org without human intervention. This is accomplished by leveraging technology (generally termed "news feeds" or "Really-Simple-Syndication feeds") that allows those who author information (a news article, a calendar event) to "syndicate" that information so that it can be published and embedded on any number of web sites and/or delivered directly to the feed reader of the target audience. More details in our article on Want the news delivered to your e-doorstep?
So how does information get onto the website?
There are of course different kinds of information that could make their way to the site. We provide a set of articles on Data Input Instructions as a cookbook for each of the various scenarios.
Let's take an example of a calendar event. Assume you're the art teacher at IHS and want to announce an upcoming art exhibit of the students' work. As you would normally do, you could send a note or email to the school office staff and have them post the event, or better yet, if you foresee regularly entering calendar events you can post the event yourself with these instructions. All this entails is a free Google account and a few clicks to add your event to the High School calendar, that is then automatically published on the consolidated InclineSchools.org calendar -- and automatically pushed to any parent, student or community member who has subscribed to the Incline Schools calendar feed. Cool, huh?!
What kind of exposure do you expect for the website?
Remember that the two target audiences for the website are... potential parents/students, and existing partents/students. Over the past year we've already seen very nice growth in visits from both audiences:
- visitors from all 50 states, from Maine to Hawaii
- visitors from 96 countries, including Switzerland, Spain, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, India and China
- more than 9,000 unique visitors from the North Shore and Reno areas
- strong growth in traffic directed to the site from search engines
- increasing number of visitors arriving from referring sites (including the Tahoe Bonanza, Facebook, IVGID, ISAEF and others)
The secret to achieving even wider and deeper traffic to the site is the "referral" opportunity, i.e. organizations and individuals who provide links on their sites to InclineSchools.org. As we get local businesses, realtors and agencies to link to InclineSchools.org we'll see not only an increase in referred traffic, but because many search engines including Google rank searches based on "degree of referral", we'll also see increased traffic from search engines. The motto is... if you have a website, make sure to provide a link on your site to InclineSchools.org. A clear win-win.