New Department of Education Web Site
The Department of Education recently revamped its web site. For those who had the displeasure of having to navigate the previous incarnation, it was welcome news. The new web site is not just a lick of paint, although it desperately needed one. The designers have attempted to categorise the mass of news, circulars and initiatives in an easy to maneuver web site.
From the screenshot above, it is immediately obvious that the drab design that preceded it has completely gone and we are welcomed with a 3-columned affair.
The first column starts with a welcome message from the Minister, followed by a decent menu system. The menu system has a direct link to the DES circulars, which is a huge relief for principals like me as they were so difficult to find in the last web site. The first column is finished with popular links, which is a useful idea as most people tend to be looking for the same things around the same time.
The right-hand side column seems to be dedicated to “the latest news.” It starts off with a slider, which details upcoming events. Underneath that it has static, colourful links to items of importance at the particular time of year. At the time of this review, these included an outline of grants for the coming school year, something again that was incredibly difficult to find in the last site.
The middle column reads almost like a blog. It is divided into 3 parts. What’s New? outlines what’s new in the media, e.g. press releases, etc. This is followed by announcements, e.g. health warnings, campaigns, etc. The final section is a diary of upcoming events relating to education, which might be a little bit excessive considering the 3rd column does most of this.
The header of the site has changed from a very tired header to a much brighter model. There’s some accessibility options on the right to change font size and you can also see the web site as Gaeilge. There are sections specifically for staff, parents, schools and learners. However, the item that stands out most is a big button to find a school, which upon further investigation provide a brilliant mapping mashup. I searched for multi-denominational schools in Carlow and was greeted with a Google Map with a pin in the exact location of my school!
Another feature that went almost unnoticed was a little Twitter icon on the header linking to the Department’s Twitter account. In light of this, I decided to ask my Twitter followers their opinion on the new site. The feedback was unanimous in its approval. One reply from the patron body, Educate Together, said that it is much more accessible for the type of information they look for and I completely agree with them. The new Department of Education web site is an excellent example of a government site.