By Beth Williams, Our Kids Network Communications Manager
Earlier this month we quietly flicked the switch on our new Our Kids Network website. We’ve been using the last few weeks to gather some feedback, continue to smooth out glitches, and work on the finishing touches.
We plan to feature and celebrate the new website on a regular basis by introducing you to the vast resources and information found in every section. And of course we’ll do our best to act on your feedback and suggestions.
Below are 7 elements we’re particularly proud of, but they’re really just a taste of what this new site offers. Over the coming year, we’ll be mining the site’s content and using this blog to introduce new features and explore resources and tools that can help you in your work with children and families.
1. The redesign began as a process to update the technology, design, and content of our five-year-old website, but it became much more than that. Team members brought perspectives and knowledge from administration, research, education, children’s services, children’s mental health, child protection, communications, and the community. The diverse views and opinions of this group were key to creating the best online environment to showcase our work and content, and appeal to our audience of Halton professionals who work with children, youth, and families. Here’s the team.
2. A window on our work. The scope and depth of Our Kids Network’s committees and their work, challenges, and accomplishments is evident in every section. Every OKN committee is connected in some way to the website, whether it’s the OKN timeline in the Learn About Us resources, the Data Portal in the Research section, or the Early Years Developmental Relationships video.
3. More visual impact and less text. Visual elements define major topic areas and simplify and guide navigation. We used colour blocks, strong graphics, and minimal text to get you quickly to the information you’re looking for and make it easier to browse.
4. Simple navigation. Your feedback on the old website told us that easy navigation was key. Our new website organizes information so that it is easy to find, understand, and use. With less scrolling and clicking, you’ll quickly land on what you need.
5. Accessible without clicking the accessibility button. It’s important to us that everyone can explore and use the OKN website with ease. Our new site meets AODA accessibility standards when it comes to font size, appropriate use of colour and space, and suitability for screen readers, all without clicking the accessibility icon. (Clicking the button further enhances pages when needed.)
6. Visualizing data and information. We developed infographics to make it easier to understand some of the more complex aspects of OKN. For example, The Halton 7 population results, one of the cornerstones of our work and our common agenda, are something that everyone in Halton should know about and understand. Our infographic boils down complex research language and practices to 10 easy pieces.
7. What’s on the menu? Over the past two decades, OKN has produced a huge number of valuable tools and resources by using data collection cycles that now span a generation of children. These resources range from comprehensive toolkits, to videos, to technology and data reports. The website team worked hard to find a way to make it easy for you to both browse these resources and find them easily when you know what you want and are in a hurry. We call these our “resource tables” – simple, quick, and easy to use listings of resources, organized under topics and navigated with drop down menus. You’ll find OKN-produced resources, as well as numerous links, videos, and PDFs from other sources that can be used in our work.
Our website is a work in progress and we hope you’ll join in. Your feedback is one of the drivers of the website because we need continuous communication to grow. Look for page polls, email buttons, and surveys to make it easy for you to tell us what you think.
We encourage you to take the time to explore and get to know the website, and we hope you discover a wealth of information and resources to help you in your work with children and families. We’re looking forward to hearing from you on what you like and where we can improve. Watch for more information on website features in upcoming blogs!