How we conducted our original research for The What and Why of School Websites
The SchoolCEO research team performed a multivariate frame analysis of 700 randomly selected district homepages from across the United States. Every district in our sample was determined to possess—or lack— specific dimensions and content features, which we refer to as frames. Our in-house experts identified 30 frames that, together, comprise a comprehensive homepage— things like taglines, privacy statements, and calendars, to name a few. Every school district in our study was coded—or labeled—as having or not having each of the frames we identified.
For our analysis, we focused solely on homepages and what can be accessed from them in just one click. For example, if a district has job openings listed elsewhere on their site, but they aren’t directly accessible from the homepage, this district would be coded as not having the “careers” frame. Even though we limited our study to homepages, we assert that our findings are still relevant for districts who want to improve their websites, especially if they don’t know where to begin. Homepages are the launching point for almost all of your website visitors—and information linked from the homepage is a good summation of a district’s priorities.
Using NCES’s enrollment database, districts from our sample were sorted into one of four categories:
- Small districts (2,500 students or fewer)
- Medium districts (2,501 - 10,000 students)
- Large districts (10,001 - 25,000 students)
- Mega districts (more than 25,000 students)
Grouping our sample into these categories allowed us to identify differences in homepage content between school sizes and to make recommendations for schools of these specific sizes. In the end, our sample consisted of 446 small districts, 177 medium districts, 50 large districts, and 27 mega districts, with at least one district included from each state (Fig. 1). We used SPSS software to run various models identifying variances in content and information available on these homepages between our four specified groups. While we won’t be discussing each of our 30 frames here, we do have a few important findings that we believe are relevant to your schools.