Many schools have moved to using Ultranet as their main website too, since it offers public pages that are set up using the same familiar editing interface from the virtual classrooms. This means website updating isn't restricted to a single individual or small team of administrators, plus it avoids doubling up on web hosting costs.
Here are the steps involved and some considerations with making Ultranet your school website.
The migration process
Between making the decision to consolidate your website into Ultranet and having the mapping completed, a few additional activities would normally be performed to support the migration process.
Here are a few outlined factors to consider:
Transferring content. Your existing website may have a lot of content that you want to re-use or re-publish in Ultranet, such as menu structure, page information, documents and photos. Therefore, it's important to factor in time (and resource) to bring this content across.
In most cases, this will be a simple copy-and-paste exercise. Files such as documents and photos will need to be re-uploaded into Ultranet, but this gives you a chance to review the files and ensure they are still relevant and/or accurate. You may even take this opportunity to update the page design and layout. Whatever you decide, just make sure you factor in the time involved to do this work.
Forwarding links. In this interim period where you have a separate website and Ultranet simultaneously, it is useful and common practice to have a hyperlink on one site linking to the other. Usually, this would be a link from your main website to your Ultranet site, since the website may already be the first port of call for online visitors—especially students who may not remember the Ultranet web address.
Most schools achieve this via a straight-forward "Click here to go to our Ultranet" text link on the home page. Some spice it up by making it an image link or promoting it as a main item on the website menu. The styling is up to you—as long as users can clearly and easily find their way to where they want to go, then there's minimal chance of confusion and losing visitors.
Updating bookmarks/published items. If URLs to particular resources or pages were previously used on the old website, you may need to review these as most of them will probably stop working once the migration is complete. For instance, a link to "www.schoolname.school.nz/parent-information" will cease to work post-migration, as such a URL won't exist in Ultranet.
If the corresponding page has already been created in Ultranet, you can use the new URL and update any links accordingly. If not, just make a note of what pages are affected and revisit it later.
Notifying your domain host provider
Your school web domain (e.g. schoolname.school.nz) will be registered and hosted by a service provider—usually your ISP, but not always. If you already have a school website, then that domain will have been configured to point to a specific server where the website is hosted, so traffic is routed correctly. So to make Ultranet your main website, all you'll need to do is change the traffic routing for your domain.
Here's the process:
First, notify us of the URL that you wish to use (i.e. your school domain or other registered domain), so we can configure our servers accordingly to route the traffic accurately as soon as the switch is flipped.
Upon receiving confirmation from us about Step 1 above, you can then contact your domain registrar and authorise them to perform the following:
Redirect traffic to the root domain (schoolname.school.nz1) to the www record (www.schoolname.school.nz2). This should cause anybody navigating to the non-www address to be redirected to the www one.
Update the CNAME record for www.schoolname.school.nz2; configure it to point to schoolname.ultranet.school.nz3.
1 = Replace this with your school domain (no "www").
2 = Replace this with your school domain (with "www").
3 = Replace this with the Ultranet-provided domain that the school has been provisioned.
Once they have actioned these items, the updates will usually propagate across the internet within 4-24 hours. Following this, all internet traffic going to schoolname.school.nz and www.schoolname.school.nz should resolve to your Ultranet site.
Notifying your web host provider
If your old website was hosted on a service provided by a third party, don't forget that you'll need to factor in notification time for them to decommission the site and settle final payments appropriately.
So if you can set a definite 'transfer' date, your old web hosting provider can be notified in time and avoid unnecessary charges.