Dec 11, 2017

New York City High School of Art & Design: Putting Their Best Foot Forward

When the High School of Art & Design in New York City needed to update their school website, they knew they needed to have a platform that would let them build a site as special as their school. To meet the expectations of their community and attract prospective families, their new school website would need to be beautiful as well as informative.

A Special Website for a Special School

The High School of Art & Design is one of the most venerable institutions in the New York City Department of Education. Founded in 1936, the school has been focused on the arts since the beginning. “Our program started long before today’s emphasis on small, specialized high schools in New York City,” says Mr. Ureña, the Principal at the school. Students have to audition to get in and selection is highly competitive.

Because they are a competitive, audition-only school, the website plays an important role in attracting prospective students and explaining their programs and offerings. They wanted a website that would allow them to showcase their programs for current and prospective families and alumni. Mr. Ureña explains, “If we say we have all these attributes that make us special, the website has to reflect that. The design and organization of our site are more important than they are for your average school.”

Their prior site had a lot of information, but it was poorly organized and not attractively presented. “The homepage was just a dumping ground for a hodgepodge of information—you basically had to keep scrolling to find things,” said Mr. Ureña. “It did not reflect the image we wanted for our school.”

Bringing the New School Website to Life

Mr. Ureña had been the webmaster for a previous school, so he had a good idea of what he was looking for. After researching his options, he chose eChalk based on the clean, attractive design themes and ease of use. One of the big factors was eChalk’s content transfer service. “That was the most daunting piece for me,” he says. “We had a lot of content that needed to be transferred over. eChalk made it easy. They went through with us to determine what content needed to go, what needed to stay and where things should go. Then they made it happen. They really went above and beyond what we expected.”

   
  
   
  
    
  
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     The Reprise theme takes advantage of the bold images from the school. 

The Reprise theme takes advantage of the bold images from the school. 

The school chose the Reprise theme for its bold use of pictures and clean, simple design. “It fits us. There is no clutter there—everything is laid out nicely and easy to find,” Mr. Ureña said. He also appreciates how easy it is to keep updated. His assistant, John Brinegar, has found it to be easy to maintain without requiring any technical background in website development.

   
  
   
  
    
  
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   Below the fold, important information is organized and displayed attractively.

Below the fold, important information is organized and displayed attractively.

"The Envy of the District"

Now, Mr. Ureña says their website has made them “the envy of the district.” Reaction from parents and staff has been enthusiastic. They have also seen web traffic increase several-fold, with thousands of site visitors from across New York City and even around the world. “It’s really been very effective to help us communicate what our school represents to families who don’t already know us,” he says. “It is helping us to increase our school visibility and let prospects and alumni keep up with all the great things that are happening here.” 

   
  
   
  
    
  
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     Individual departments, like Cartooning, use their pages to highlight their offerings.    

Individual departments, like Cartooning, use their pages to highlight their offerings.    

   
  
   
  
    
  
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   The Film & Video department uses their page to highlight recent student work. 

The Film & Video department uses their page to highlight recent student work.