Our website, boosterredux.com is powered by Student Newspapers Online (SNO). At the beginning of last year, we were just using it to upload stories from our print issues and for many years before, we weren't using it at all. The design wasn't very strong, and a lot of students didn't even know we had it. As managing editor last year, I took it upon myself to revamp it. I spent my entire spring break changing the design of the homepage, adding plugins and revising story designs. I scheduled a consultation with the SNO staff, who helped guide me. I entirely shifted the focus of my own work from print storytelling to digital storytelling, too. After seeing my work, the staffers started producing online content as well.
Now, as editor-in-chief, I place just as much emphasis on our website as I do on our print broadsheet. At the beginning of the year, I made the executive decision to cut down our number of print issues from ten to five so we could have time to produce online content. We've also appointed two sophomores to the position of online editor, and I'm teaching them everything I know so that my passion for web carries on after I graduate.
View all of my work with our website below.
Revamping the website
My primary goal was to make the website more engaging to our student audience. As you will see below, I redesigned our home page, placed much more emphasis on our photos, reorganized the categories and established a consistent theme. I also added more widgets, including a scoreboard, an embedding of our print issue, a trending stories list and a video section.
Below are the before and after shots of my extensive revisions. Click the images to enlarge.
I used Google Analytics to measure my design changes' impact on engagement. The two photos below are the before and after reports of my redesign of our website. My changes increased the page views while decreasing the bounce and exit rates. Click the images to enlarge.
There are many things that happen in our school that aren't timely enough to be published in our newspaper. Since we cut down the number of our print issues this year, we made it our goal to use our website to report news of interest to our student body as soon as possible.
Click the buttons below to view two online breaking news stories that I played a significant role in.
Photo by | Hannah Abarca
Photo by | Nicole-Marie Konopelko
BREAKING: District approves Bressler’s letter of resignation, contract effective through June
Purple Power Hour suspended
as published on boosterredux.com on Jan. 15, 2019
as published on boosterredux.com on Sept. 6, 2018
ABOUT: When rumors started circulating around the school that our principal was leaving in May, I knew we had to cover it fast. I got onto his schedule for an interview as soon as I could, where he confirmed the rumors. I interviewed him twice and I also interviewed our superintendent at the long school board meeting in which the board voted to approve the principal's letter of resignation. Not only did I beat our local newspaper in getting the news out, but I also beat the school district. Our students knew about his resignation on the morning after the meeting, thanks to our website.
ABOUT: This story came about after our managing editor sent a message to our Slack group chat announcing that Purple Power Hour (PPH) – a lunch schedule that admin adopted after visiting a few Kansas City schools — was canceled due to fights. Minutes later, I assigned this breaking news story to one of our experienced staffers, who ended up pulling an all-nighter interviewing students about their reactions to the suspension. The writer and I even spoke over the phone while I was at tennis practice that day. By the next morning, she had interviewed our principal and we had posted the breaking news online.
vs. in-depth coverage...
Not all website coverage has to be breaking news. A website is also a great place for in-depth coverage to reach a wider audience.
ABOUT: Over the summer, my managing editor and I wanted to cover Pride Month. Though we didn't have access to a printing press, we did have access to our newly revamped website, and we took advantage of it. Not only did we feature students in the LGBTQ+ community, but we also made interactive graphics of LGBTQ+ history, compiled the results from our community-wide survey on LGBTQ+ rights into a graphic and took portraits. We were unlimited on space. I feel that this coverage ultimately turned out better online than it ever would have in print.
LGBTQ+ youth in PHS
ABOUT: This month, we decided to cover tattoos in our school. For my part of our coverage, I used our site to feature a student who gives herself tattoos. She shared the stories behind her tattoos with me, making for a powerful, unique feature. I posted the story, along with photos that one of my fellow photographers took of the student and her tattoos, onto our website the day after it printed.
Photo by | Ross Laidler
Covering turnover in the head principal position
Though I had covered the breaking news story of my head principal's resignation (featured above) at the start of the year, I knew this story wasn't over. His position was a very critical and contentious one to fill in our school, so I wanted to keep our readers informed on the search for his replacement. To do so, I decided to use our website as an outlet to cover the search process for our new head principal. This is a continuing story that I covered as the year went on.The expected hiring date for our new assistant principal was April 8. Our website provided a fast and easy way to keep our readers informed on the search for the most important position in our school.
You can view my online coverage of the turnover in the head principal position thus far below. My first story that kicked off this coverage is featured above, under the "Timely coverage..." heading.
Photo by | Nicole-Marie Konopelko
Photo by | Nicole-Marie Konopelko
Board of Education begins search for new principal, extends timeline
ABOUT: In this story, I covered the search process — from start to finish — for the new head principal. I spoke with the superintendent, asking tough questions about who would make up the interviewing panels and exactly how he would run the process.
District hires Heardt as new principal, begins replacement process
ABOUT: This was my coverage of our new head principal. She was hired on March 4. Not only did I write an introduction to her, including her credentials and work experience, but I also covered the process to find her replacement, as she is currently one
of our assistant principals.
My favorite part of working with our website is story design. Most of the stories you'll find on our website were designed by me. From interactive graphics to pull quotes, I've made it my goal to incorporate all of Wordpress's different story packaging features.
View my best web designs below.
Saying goodbye to PHS
ABOUT: In our newspaper, this story consisted of six vignettes, each covering a person who retired. On the website, however, I utilized SNO Story Elements and turned it into an interactive story, in which viewers could click on the teacher's picture to read that part of their story. My rule is that every story should have an SNO Story Element on the website, even if it's as simple as a pull quote. This story's web layout made a serious topic more interesting to a student audience.
Scholarship dedicated to
ABOUT: For this story, I challenged myself to think smarter, not harder. I wrote the story about an honor dedicated to our vocal music teacher and shot a 30-second video of her choir singing. The video was a simple, yet powerful way of extending on the teacher's accomplishment. I also designed this story as a standalone, with the photo at the top, quickly followed by the video.
and football game
ABOUT: When I design or post anything onto the website, I always think of what would be easier and more appealing for our students to view. Not all students are interested in reading a 300-word story, but most are interested in viewing photos. That's why I've encouraged and pushed photo galleries this year on our website. For this gallery, I uploaded my photos of homecoming using Wordpress's NextGen gallery.
You can view more interactive content I've designed using SNO features below.
Bidding farewell to our seniors
Stepping into the light
Receiving national recognition
Last year, my adviser was featured in a podcast by SNO, our website provider. In it, she spoke about our journey to establishing an online presence. She starts talking about my part in revamping the website at 13:56. You can listen to it below.