University Websites

31 July 2010 at 11:53 am 9 comments

| Peter Klein |

xkcd, via Roderick:

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  • 1. Steven Handel  |  31 July 2010 at 11:59 am

    I somewhat disagree. If I am a prospective student than I might go to the school’s site to find out how the campus looks and take a virtual tour. If I see Press Releases and Alumni in the News this, while not of primary interest to me, tells me that this school is associated with success. That might sell me on going to school there (after all the front page is intended to be more of a marketing tool than a list of resources for students who are already attending).

  • 2. Milton Recht  |  31 July 2010 at 1:13 pm

    The original source of the cartoon is xkcd:

  • 3. Peter Klein  |  31 July 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Thanks, I’ve added the original source to the post.

  • 4. Steve Horwitz  |  31 July 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Yes, it’s cute. Of course it’s true only if “people” = faculty and staff and that the main purpose of the homepage is to appeal to them, which it is not.

    Only faculty and staff would think those are the things most people go to a *homepage* (as opposed to a website) for.

  • 5. Peter Klein  |  31 July 2010 at 8:57 pm

    You mean there’s another kind of “person”?

  • 6. Rafe  |  1 August 2010 at 7:42 pm

    There are other persons, like students for example, but they are just a nuisance when you are looking for a parking space and some peace and quite in the library.

  • 7. srp  |  1 August 2010 at 10:26 pm

    The failure to make the academic calendar available anywhere but on well-hidden intranets or in obscure places that can’t be found even with search engines is a particular pet peeve. Don’t you think prospective and current students care about that? Not to mention the faculty, especially visitors and lecturers.

  • 8. Rafe  |  1 August 2010 at 10:35 pm

    How widespread is that problem? In 1997 when I wanted to survey the course contents and reading lists in philosophy in the Australian universities the sites were such a mess that I gave up. However the information was fairly easy to find on over 100 US uni sites.

  • 9. Mandar  |  2 August 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Pretty much spot on!. Not too long ago, I applied for graduate studies in law, to the top universities– the 3 Ivy league ones (usual suspects eh!) Stanford and Chicago.

    The things that I wanted to research on were fairly covered by the right circle of the Venn diagram and the things, even those top universities would have me see, are seen in the left hand side.

    Prime space on the page was taken by the stuff that the cartoon mentions on the left hand side and the stuff that one needs was either pushed to the top right corner– so, one has to search it, or the bottom right– even worse! Some just provided a link to the page that had the stuff that a prospective grad student might want— so, it did not even merit space on the mother-page :)

    I suspect that the reason for this could be because, the students, graduate or4 otherwise are not the target audience at all, for thse universities– this is a marketing strategy and therefore media seems to be the target. That explains the preponderence of information about alum achievements, press releases and campus events. As a student who was recently made aware of the role rankings play in the US, perhaps there are some gains in designing the websites in this way. (Except may be, the letter from the Dean/ President, that seems like wasting advertising space— talk is cheap and the consumers and monitors (media) understand that– but do I see path dependence here?

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