A comment on a comment.

The William & Mary web redesign was referenced in The New York Times yesterday and yes, we were pleased!

Rethinking How Colleges Present Themselves on the Web was both a summary of and reminder about the importance of user-driven design. We take user-driven design pretty seriously on our campus and are painfully close to a completely integrated web presence for William & Mary. We hide them pretty well, but we have the bruises to show it.

For me, and not surprisingly, the comments on this Times piece offer the most insightful perspective. Here’s an excerpt from #4, a comment, one that was particularly meaningful to me:

I’m currently in the market for grad school, and while I always try to keep an open mind about institutions, I can’t help being subtly influenced by how schools choose to present themselves online and how easy their information is to access. When faced with a disorganized or shoddy webpage, my mind starts to ask questions about the quality of the department and how organized they will be about regarding my class schedule, funding, and the like.

One thing that colleges should strive for is a more unified look to disparate areas of their website. For example, when different departments have their own radically different layout, this can be jarring and alienating. As a prospective student, I want to feel like the department is part of the university at the whole, and web styling that conforms to that of the university as a whole can help. Departments can use pictures and specialized tabs to convey whats unique to them as a department, but within the overall framework of the university website.

Thanks L. Belaqua. We knew it was true but we don’t tire of hearing it.

– Susan T. Evans

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