St. Edward High School works to communicate information on Alumni it has lost in its community to relevant class years. When the school receives an Alumnus’ obituary, it posts it online and sends an email to the Alumnus’ class, along with the class years of any immediate relatives.
The school had an outdated website and workflow to notify its community of someone’s passing. Dylan Zsigray, with the support of Dan Wallenhorst (St. Ed’s), James Millar (St. Ed’s), and Mike Richwalsky (Gas Mark 8), idealized and built a new website and workflow to streamline the process while retaining the impact the service has on the school’s community.
The previous system was entirely manual. Upon receiving an obituary, the school would update its database and then copy & paste the obituary text onto a legacy website with no styling; it was one long text file! From here, the school would copy & paste the obituary text into its email platform and send it to applicable class years. Lastly, the school would email its faculty and staff to notify them of the death. If St. Ed’s received multiple obituaries in a single day, it would repeat the process for each obituary individually.
The new system replaces the long text file with a user-friendly website complete with search and filter functionality to find a specific Alumnus, and a simple form for members of the community to share obituaries with the school. More than this, the new system automates the sending of email notifications!
When the school publishes an obituary on the new website, it selects the specific class year(s) to notify of the Alumnus’ passing via a multiple-select field. These selections “tag” the obituary as relevant to particular classes. Then, each morning, the system sends an email digest to the community containing the previous day’s obituaries. The email digest is specific to each graduating class; Alumni will only see obituaries applicable to their class, even if the school published others on the website.
You can download our case study that includes high-level system diagrams here!
The new obituaries website and notification system profoundly impacted St. Edward’s community. It lessened the time and number of steps the school had to follow to notify Alumni of deaths while providing a significantly improved interface for users to read obituaries and honor those who passed. The website averages 5,000 visitors monthly.