Web Design Failures – University Websites
University websites are one of the many websites out there that fail their target audience. Most University websites can be summed up with this comic from XKCD.
As you can see in the above comic, the only thing that you usually find on a University website that both you, as a user, and the web designers can agree on is the name of the school. Granted, websites such as UBC’s and SFU’s seem to show easy access to the faculty list and few of the other items are located on the main page such as the address, at least. The rest seem to be buried under menu systems though.
A quote from this site ranking the best and worst University sites has this to say:
I have a little bit of insight into how major universities go about creating websites, and in my experience the major problem is the same that leads to most poor corporate design: Design by Committee. Two heads may be better than one, but ten to twenty heads gets you an ugly website.
From this site ranking the good, the bad and the ugly, you can see some of the major institutions for education have extremely poor websites which do not reflect well on the institution itself. Considering the amount of money these places spend on their websites, it’s a real shame that they fail their first impression on the web.
Universities need to realize that they should be designing for current students first and prospective students second. By designing for current students, you will naturally appeal to prospective students if you keep information displayed clearly and accessible easily. Spending too much time on flashy imagery really detracts from your site because the people who view your site more than once will absolutely ignore the imagery on their second visit as they seek out the valuable information that they would like to have.