University Web Developers

University Web Developers

For higher education websites, do you find it more important for the website to be attractive, or be simple and usable?

Is there a way to get both simplicity for users of all ages with an overall look that is also attractive to multiple age groups but still eye catching to prospective students?

Views: 76

Replies to This Discussion

I think it is vital to have both, however if you have limited resources (time or money) then I would focus on usability first and foremost. After all, the basic purpose of a website is to deliver information that your target audience is looking for. I have seen it many times, a website looks really cool but then when you go to use it and start to look for a specific topic it becomes cumbersome. After a while you just quit looking. Don't get me wrong, it is very important to have a sharp looking site too but first and foremost the user is coming to your site to find information on a specific topic and if you can't provide that information they will just go somewhere else to find it, even if the site appears to be eye catching.

As far as incorporating both attractive and usable check out for inspiration.
I also agree with dmazon. What I've found is that in higher education, a lot of the "higher-uppers" really don't care about the design so much as long as it looks clean and understandable. I drives me nuts with the "above-the-fold" perception everyone has, to squeeze as much information on the top portion, when you can create a lot of elegant, sophisticated websites with the use of negative space. Importantly, figure what what is the purpose of the site, what you need to communicate that purpose, then create a design that fits that purpose. Design is a communication tool :P (That sounded text-booky). I should start a discussion about the "above-the-fold" perception. Curious to see what people's thought on that is.
I think they are both very important regardless of time line and budget. Your web expirence should be rich, fun and easy to use. I can't really see a design not appealing to the multiple audiences, its more in your information architecture and page content that mandates that. One major step in making sure that your site speaks to everyone, is the main navigation. Try taking out items that place people in baskets in your main navigation. There are plenty of resources that could go in main navigation that don't necessarily make people make a choice in where they want to go. Still have audience based navigation but not in he main navigation.

Here is an excellent example of a trendy design with navigation that does not put people in baskets.
One of the things that I have learned these past six months regarding design, is that it needs to be well balanced: good design and good navigation. Usability is key for people to find things, but design is important too because for the culture that we are in today, first impressions are key. If the user does not like what they see, the thought in their mind is that if the institution does not take the time to spend wisely on it's outward appearance, what kind of sloppyness is going to be on the inside.

We just started the process of redesigning our Website. It is an 8 month process timeline that goes through everything from the design to navigation, to who are audiences are and how we are going to taylor the content/text to them individually, to the photography that we will be using, to the back-end architecture of our CMS to how content gets created and approved, focus groups... all the way to how we will push our brand through every page and interact seamlessly with new social media outlets that we are starting to utilize.

Design and Usability should be bonded at the waist. You really can't have a successful Website if these are not equal in quality and/or developed wisely.

steve thurston • webmaster
marketing department
digital media communications adjunct
valley forge christian college • phoenixville, pa
610.917.1476 •



Latest Activity

Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Learn how a new website design and CMS helped Florida Gulf Coast University increase new visits to the school’s website with improved SEO."
2 hours ago
Profile IconJames Pollard and Michael Clarke joined University Web Developers
9 hours ago
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Join our next webcast with Kelly Rushing from @uofsouthalabama to learn how to create accessible PDFs for your website by starting with your source documents."
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Learn why your college or university should choose SaaS across the board, especially for your next CMS."
Oct 8
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Join us for our next webcast with OmniUpdate CEO Lance Merker, who will delve into key insights about Generation Z’s online search behaviors to help you refine your school's web marketing strategy."
Oct 3
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Our newest guide will help you learn what it means to be accessible, how to implement accessibility best practices, quick fixes to try as well as a long-term plan, plus tools to help you in your website accessibility efforts. Download it now!"
Oct 1
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Are online forms more efficient? Learn how El Camino College used Formstack to create online forms that expedited processing, improved communications, increased transparency, and promoted accountability across campus."
Sep 18
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"It's important to understand the science behind your web pages to better engage and ultimately attract prospective students to your site."
Sep 12
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"If you’re struggling with web challenges such as accessibility, SEO, design consistency, workflow, content governance, or how to start a website redesign, you’re not alone. Join our next webcast to learn how other higher ed institutions…"
Sep 5
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"eQAfy confirms that OU Campus is still the #1 commercial CMS for colleges and universities in the United States."
Aug 28
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Here’s an outline of everything you need to know about OCR compliance, including what it is, what your college or university can do to stay compliant, and resources for OCR compliance. #accessibility"
Aug 23
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Join us for our next webcast with April Buscher from Montana State University Billings to learn how blind readers and people with hearing impairment view and read your website and how you can make it accessible to them."
Aug 14
Amanda Lawson joined Lynn Zawie's group


Share your experiences using OmniUpdate CMS
Aug 9
Amanda Lawson posted a photo

Amanda Lawson

Amanda Lawson, Web Content ManagerCommunity College of Allgheny County
Aug 9
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"High schoolers spend more time on their digital devices than they do sleeping, doing homework, or participating in extracurricular activities. So how do you make your message stand out to them? #eexpect"
Aug 8
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Want to increase digital engagement with high school juniors and seniors? Join our next webcast with Stephanie Geyer from Ruffalo Noel Levitz as she shares new data from the 2019 E-Expectations Trend Report on email, paid media, and social media…"
Jul 31
Charlie Holder joined DNI's group

Cascade Server CMS

For folks who use (or are interested in) Hannon Hill's Cascade Server CMS productSee More
Jul 26
Linda Faciana commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Is your website in compliance with the new WCAG 2.1? Join our webcast to learn various accessibility guidelines, what’s new in 2.1, and more!"
Jul 22
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Even though GDPR has been in effect for over a year, many U.S. colleges and universities are still struggling with how best to implement the rules. We’re here to help."
Jul 18
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Does your college or university website meet the new WCAG 2.1 accessibility standards?"
Jul 12

UWEBD has been in existence for more than 10 years and is the very best email discussion list on the Internet, in any industry, on any topic


© 2019   Created by Mark Greenfield.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service