|ISU homepage is a big improvement|
|Written by Mason Souza, Columnist|
|Thursday, 01 September 2011 22:40|
After seeing the invitation to get a sneak peek of ISU’s new website and give some feedback on it, I decided to do my part as a student and share my thoughts.
As soon as I opened the page, I liked the new design and considered it an upgrade from the current one, but I thought ISU could use some advice on one of the major purposes of any university website: recruitment.
Let’s face it — while university websites feature plenty of information, their design matters most when viewed in the eyes of prospective students. It’s like window shopping: before visiting a school, students often get a first impression of a university from its website.
If a website is disorganized or looks “so ‘90s,” it could possibly suggest anything from outdated facilities, poor online services or faculty who are not adept at technology.
Thankfully, the new site doesn’t give any indication that it was made for dial-up connections. It’s a lot cleaner, better organized, and more modern looking than the previous one. Text is bigger and easier to read and the search bar in the top right corner is a smart addition.
The “At a Glance” page, which gives valuable information on ISU and Bloomington-Normal, is easy to find from the main page.
Now these updates are all great, but pictures are worth a thousand website tweaks, and unfortunately, they don’t play a big role on the new site. I think showing off the eclectic quasi-forest that is the Quad or the behemoth new Student Fitness Center would be a good way to show off the university’s assets. (Don’t be shy, ISU — you’ve got it so flaunt it!)
These could be either shown on the main page or maybe on a “Gallery” page linked to the index. I think the latter would be a more subtle way to do this.
It’s great that ISU is active in social networks and I like that they include links to their various accounts, but I don’t like that I had to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to find them.
If ISU wants to show it is truly committed to new media, they should place these icons somewhere in the top half of the page, or better yet, post updates and live feeds on the page.
The page is now neatly divided by a black banner. The bottom half contains a categorized events calendar and news from different university outlets. This is much more attractive than trying to cram everything into a non-scrolling page, like the current site does.
Overall, I think ISU’s new website is an improvement over the current one. It’s a more user-friendly resource for students, but I still think it could do more to impress prospective students.
Of course, no school would want to make it obvious they designed a site to attract new students, but I think a “Gallery” page would be a nice addition for school-seekers and alumni who would like to take a peek at how ISU looks today.
Those pictures would go hand-in-hand with the factsheets, values and contact information that is found on the page. Then, if students wanted to see some YouTube clips of the school in action or read some tweets to see what’s happening now, they could do that right away.