Japanese screenshot

Salem Public Schools launched a new website Monday, upgraded and built around community feedback. It also includes a built-in translator powered by Google Translate, seen in this screenshot of the page translated to Japanese.

SALEM — A new website built by the community is now ready for the community.

The Salem public schools, working with Salem-based website developer Sperling Interactive, launched a newly overhauled website on Monday that streamlines access to the most sought-after information and services. The website can be found at salemk12.org.

But the website was also built across countless conversations throughout the district, as each school was put in charge of designing its own spaces on the site. Early versions were tested for language and accessibility before launch, according to Liz Polay-Wettengel, spokeswoman for Salem Public Schools.

“One of the biggest complaints we ever heard about the old website was that nobody could find anything, so we’ve made it more clear how to find things,” Polay-Wettengel said. “I received input from every principal, every school, every department head so that I wasn’t building this just from my perspective, but fulfilling the perspectives of the entire district.”

Topped with a video header of Witches football players running the edge of Bertram Field, the website provides quick links to school menus, transportation and registration information, as well as dropdown menus to hit pages for each school, department and more.

Language options provided by Google Translate translate the entire website to anything from Spanish and Portuguese to Yiddish and Afrikaans.

“I’ve had people check it — native French speakers, Spanish speakers, Portuguese speakers. I don’t think any translation tool is perfect, but they say it worked really well,” Polay-Wettengel said. “In addition to the language accessibility, this site also offers ADA accessibility, which we’ve had tested by people in that community, who approved of this going forward.”

Overall, the process took nine months, Polay-Wettengel said

“I got some really wonderful suggestions, some really great feedback that helped us move things around and change some names so the content was more clear,” she said. “We really appreciate everybody who participated in the beta process so we could push out a site that worked well.”

Of course, the site isn’t finished, according to Polay-Wettengel. Really, it never will be, which is the point.

“The biggest thing people should know about this website is that websites are never a finished product, that we’ll continue to add to this website as needs arise, and as technology changes,” she said. “The other website wasn’t able to do that.”

Contact Dustin Luca at 978-338-2523 or DLuca@salemnews.com. Follow him at facebook.com/dustinluca or on Twitter @DustinLucaSN.

Contact Dustin Luca at 978-338-2523 or DLuca@salemnews.com. Follow him at facebook.com/dustinluca or on Twitter @DustinLucaSN.

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