Thursday, February 10, 2005

Inaugural Post

More than one out of three Internet users say the web site is a critical factor in providing the information they need to choose their school or college. Basically, they want three things from a college web site: accurate and complete information, intuitive navigation and an inspirational environment for their college experience. Does your site meet these expectations and provide this content? How will you know if it does?

Best practices, standards, benchmarks, metrics, hits, page views, analytics. What do these mean and can any of them be used to determine the efficacy and success of your site?

As the current webmaster at my second university with an average of 30,000 FTE I am a HUGE advocate for user-centered accessible design that is based on web standards. I have presented at conferences on both web accessibility and on designing with web strandards and I'm hoping that the communication resulting from this blog results in a community of all types of web users whose dialog can be used by university webmasters and web administrators to develop better university and college web sites. There are many books and resources that deal with the usability and efficacy of commercial sites but there is very little information available and even less dialog when it comes to how to design a successful university (from hence forth this term will be used inclusively to refer to all institutions of higher education) web site that meets the needs of each user segment for a university site.

So far the only resource that I've found is a book by Pam Cox-Otto, PH.D. Make Your Web Site Work: Research and Guidance for Effective Recruiting published by LRP Publications. This book is a MUST! for any one involved with a university web site. There is much more value in this book than simply recruitment-related data and information. Dr. Cox-Otto has done incredible research with user segments from the traditional high school student to non-traditional adult learners and from business partners to alumni. In her book she shares her results and also provides recommendations on how to address the needs of these various and varied user groups.

As far as I'm concerned this book is as necessary a resource for university sites as Kelly Goto's Web ReDesign | Workflow that Works book is for web design project workflow. Add in a couple of books on web accessibility and usability and you have a start to an excellent library. At some point in the future I will post an Excel file with my entire book list. It's quite interesting to see the wide range of not only technical, but also theoretical knowledge that increases the usability and success of a site...not only from an end-user's perspective but also from a business model and recruitment angle.

Bear with me as I start to familiarize myself with the blogosphere. I'm sure it will take some time for me to fully incorporated postings into my daily lifestyle, but I feel that my daily experience (and some of the frustrations resulting from) will provide me with insightful inforamtion, inquisitive questions, and at times simply with the need to hop onto my eSoapbox and vent.

7 Comments:

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Hurry you may NOT be happy with what you will find!

 
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