Archive for the ‘EDU Checkup’ Category

EDU Checkup: Purdue University, Henderson State University

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Another week, another two site experience reviews. Although I give scores to a website based on visuals, information and code, there is so much more that goes in to those scores. The overall experience weighs heavily in how the numbers come out.

The first site this week, Henderson State University, although recently redesigned, it didn’t feel like they had me (the visitor) in mind when they recreated each page. I was met with clutter, various font types, positioning and prominence. It seemed like they had good intentions and action items (the same ones) on each page, but the execution left a lot to desire.

The second site, Purdue University – Krannert School of Management, also recently redesigned, immediately made me feel welcome with the minimal amount of items on their homepage. Going through their pages it was easy to identify the headers, links and next steps. I was disappointed to see all their crucial information was trapped in PDF’s, but at least it was available. I was happy to see someone paying close attention to the code of the site to ensure it was lite, semantic and standard. It was the code that brought them in to the B range.

If you’re interested in having your university (or one of your competitors) reviewed publicly or privately feel free to submit your site. Over half of the sites reviewed on EDU Checkup are by request.

This Week’s Reviews

Site Visual Information Code Overall
Henderson State University – Episode #297 68 59 50 (177/300) 59% E+
Purdue University – Krannert School of Management – Episode #298 79 75 86 (240/300) 80% B-

Keep up up with @educheckup on twitter and RSS for more site updated in the coming weeks. Or if you prefer, an iTunes feed is available so you can get new episodes automatically.

EDU Checkup: Langara College, Everett Community College

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

The two sites this week gave us insights in to the two ends of the higher ed Web. The first, Langara College had a different layout than I have ever seen before. The site felt ultra modern in the layout, typography and choice of colors. The homepage only presented the important items, if it wasn’t a primary action, it didn’t make the cut. It was nice to see a homepage so clean and under so much control. The child pages continued this trend and the information needed for a first time visitor was pleasantly surprising. The site overall was well thought out and looks to be continuously executed well.

On the other end of the spectrum was the Everett Community College website. The overall design looked like it didn’t changed since 2005. The homepage was squished in to an 800 pixel wide frame and there were more links than a visitor could count. You could tell visually it was trying to serve too many purposes and wasn’t executing well on any of them. Beyond that the information within the site got better. I was able to find everything I needed and it was all in a decently logical place. Lastly, I was impressed with the code of the website. They had a drive to make the site ADA compliant and took every opportunity to accomplish that goal. It was also the first higher ed website I have seen take advantage of Google’s voice search. With just one additional attribute, this site turned every input field in to an option voice search. I was quite impressed.

If you’re interested in having your university (or one of your competitors) reviewed publicly or privately feel free to submit your site. Over half of the sites reviewed on EDU Checkup are by request.

This Week’s Reviews

Site Visual Information Code Overall
Langara College – Episode #295 96 97 96 (289/300) 96% A
Everett Community College – Episode #296 69 78 92 (239/300) 79% B-

Keep up up with @educheckup on twitter and RSS for more site updated in the coming weeks. Or if you prefer, an iTunes feed is available so you can get new episodes automatically.

EDU Checkup: University of Northern Iowa, Texas State Technical School

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Wrapping up another week with two site reviews and a lot of insight. The first site, University of Northern Iowa looks like it came out of 2005. The site was overwhelmed with too much content on the homepage and not enough breathing room to make it scannable. The boxy style was not inviting and made the experience feel very cold. Finding information was the best of the three categories, but even then I could not award it anything more than a D- grade.

The second site, Texas State Technical School looked like it was redesigned fairly recently and the entire site used the same template. Sections of the site were easy to scan but at times I found the text have too much of a consistent style that it was easily overlooked. Finding degree information was also quite easy but once I started to investigate a program the specifics seemed to be disbursed between locations. Some had a lot while others had very little. I felt there is opportunity for more cross promotion of campuses on each program information page.

If you’re interested in having your university (or one of your competitors) reviewed publicly or privately feel free to submit your site. Over half of the sites reviewed on EDU Checkup are by request.

This Week’s Reviews

Site Visual Information Code Overall
Texas State Technical School – Episode #294 80 82 70 (232/300) 77% C
University of Northern Iowa – Episode #293 46 62 39 (147/300) 49% F+

Keep up up with @educheckup on twitter and RSS for more site updated in the coming weeks. Or if you prefer, an iTunes feed is available so you can get new episodes automatically.

EDU Checkup: University of Maryland University College, Bridgewater College

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

Wrapping up this week on EDU Checkup I first reviewed University of Maryland University College and was presently surprised to see some features that I have never encountered before on a highered website. The first was a “test drive course” feature where prospective students can take a course for free in exchange for some personal information. The second was a “interested courses” list that is part of the entire website. When viewing a course you can save it without signing in or being a student. Lastly, building on the saved course list a user can email their interested courses to themselves or others. Although these features are not earth shattering, they are innovative from a highered user experience perspective.

Secondly, I reviewed the Bridgewater College website, which is not on eduStyle.net yet, but should be. The website in my opinion has a great intent but fell flat on its face with the execution. The homepage is cluttered with link lists, each grouping of links had a different color scheme and the movement on the page continued to distract me. Looking for degree programs and their details led me to too many dead ends. The code of the site didn’t fair any better, it was obviously cobbled together by a CMS, which was unfortunate.

If you’re interested in having your university (or one of your competitors) reviewed publicly or privately feel free to submit your site. Over half of the sites reviewed on EDU Checkup are by request.

This Week’s Reviews

Site Visual Information Code Overall
Bridgewater College – Episode #292 50 68 55 (173/300) 57% E+
University of Maryland University College – Episode #291 68 92 70 (230/300) 76% C

Keep up up with @educheckup on twitter and RSS for more site updated in the coming weeks. Or if you prefer, an iTunes feed is available so you can get new episodes automatically.

EDU Checkup: Boston University, Grantham University

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

The first week of 2012 started off on a shaky note but then redeemed itself with the second site.

The ten second test for Grantham University got off to a rocky start, I was immediately presented with a pop up that took over the entire screen. Before I could even learn what they are about they popped up a request for information form. Although I would probably eventually request more information, it wouldn’t be the first thing I would do as a perspective student. Going through the site more I was eventually able to get the information I was looking for but it wasn’t anything that knocked my socks off. Lastly, the code looked like it cobbled together through various systems and didn’t have the attention to detail that I thought it deserved.

Secondly, Boston University – College of Engineering got my attention during the ten second test, but not for a pop up, the information on their homepage was interesting. The use of large images, appropriate titles and spacing made it a pleasure to browse. At one point I was exploring the site and clicked deeper and deeper without even realizing it. The level of information was great and the organization was a no brainer. The use of text replacement made me realize how much attention to detail they put in to the site. Overall this is a departmental site worth comparing your own to.

If you’re interested in having your university (or one of your competitors) reviewed publicly or privately feel free to submit your site. Over half of the sites reviewed on EDU Checkup are by request.

This Week’s Reviews

Site Visual Information Code Overall
Boston University – College of Engineering – Episode #290 98 93 90 (281/300) 93% A
Grantham University – Episode #289 60 82 67 (209/300) 69% C-

Keep up up with @educheckup on twitter and RSS for more site updated in the coming weeks. Or if you prefer, an iTunes feed is available so you can get new episodes automatically.

EDU Checkup: International Academy of Design & Technology, The Juilliard School

Monday, September 19th, 2011

The last two weeks I was only able to review one video each, so this is a two week wrap up.

The first site, International Academy of Design & Technology, looked very impressive at first, everything was shiny and appeared to be well put together. But as I dove deeper into the site I realized it was essentially brochure ware . There wasn’t much depth to the information or the design. It felt like a lot of default Photoshop filters were applied and the information was what I would call “standard”.

The second site, The Juilliard School, didn’t far much better on their visual design. Items either had far too much spacing or too little to be comfortable. They made up for this in the information they provide about each program, entrance requirements and calls to action. I felt like they covered all of their bases and although they had a few 404′s when I reviewed they were corrected right away.

If you’re interested in having your university (or one of your competitors) reviewed publicly or privately feel free to submit your site. Over half of the sites reviewed on EDU Checkup are by request.

This Week’s Reviews

Site Visual Information Code Overall
The Juilliard School – Episode #271 82 96 85 (263/300) 87% B+
International Academy of Design & Technology – Episode #270 80 85 91 (256/300) 85% B

 

Keep up up with @educheckup on twitter and RSS for more site updated in the coming weeks. Or if you prefer, an iTunes feed is available so you can get new episodes automatically.

EDU Checkup: Northern Michigan University, Columbia University

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

This week both sites reviewed recently launched a redesign, so recent that some of their pages still don’t reflect the new look.

The first site, Columbia University – College of Physicians and Surgeons, started out strong with a clean structured homepage but went down hill quickly. The homepage has four completely different menus in the header all for different audiences. That may make sense to someone who visits the site often but as a first or second time visitor, it forces them to look at and scan all of the menus and each and every menu item to determine where they should go. Beyond the menu it took a bit of time to find the actual degree requirements and unfortunately featured a program outline that was stuck in an image. A really large image that has all the requirements listed out but doesn’t feature alternate text. Someone with a screen reader or searching Google wouldn’t be able to use this information at all.

The second site, Northern Michigan University, featured a lot of images on their homepage, these really caught my attention. This combined with the large amount of text really pulled my eyes left and right as I was looking for the main menu. Once I found it I realized how many items were in it, nine items in a horizontal menu. Interestingly enough they were all readable and scannable which goes to show there isn’t a hard limit to the number of menu items that a site should have. It was also the first institutional homepage I have seen that includes a Web poll. This seems like a flashback to 1999 but I found it fun to vote and see the results. Lastly the search box on NMU’s website is larger than most, I found myself gravitating to it at times as an easy way to find information. I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing but it definitely is an opportunity.

If you’re interested in having your university (or one of your competitors) reviewed publicly or privately feel free to submit your site. Over half of the sites reviewed on EDU Checkup are by request.

This Week’s Reviews

Site Visual Information Code Overall
Northern Michigan University – Episode #267 83 80 78 (241/300) 80% B-
Columbia University – College of Physicians and Surgeons – Episode #266 76 81 86 (243/300) 81% B-

 

Keep up up with @educheckup on twitter and RSS for more site updated in the coming weeks. Or if you prefer, an iTunes feed is available so you can get new episodes automatically.

EDU Checkup: Stevens-Henager College, Baylor University

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

The two sites this week started off on rocky ground. Baylor University had all the right intentions but they fell flat in every category. Looking for a list of majors kept bringing me to a page that listed each school/college and center. It took some active digging just to figure out what they offer. Once I found their offerings the site style had changed and although they were in a well defined list, that list was in an iframe. Scrolling up and down broke the overall use of the web page and I was finding myself continuously adjusting the page. Lastly, this was one of the very few sites I have seen still using HTML 4. Completely table based layout and absolutely no attention to optimization.

The second site, Stevens-Henager College fared a little better. The site isn’t big at all, clicking through it felt more like a complete marketing site than one for a institution. I was intrigued by the main menu drop downs that expanded on click instead of mouse over. To me this makes sense to work but may be a little overkill if someone is using a desktop browser instead of a tablet. Information was very easy to find and I was able to get to a specific program right away. The one thing that bothered me after finding the program I wanted to apply for was the inability to actually apply online. The only way to take a next step was to request information. This was disappointing because it puts a time delay in to making a decision, in that time I could apply and get accepted to numerous other institutions.

If you’re interested in having your university (or one of your competitors) reviewed publicly or privately feel free to submit your site. Over half of the sites reviewed on EDU Checkup are by request.

This Week’s Reviews

Site Visual Information Code Overall
Stevens-Henager College – Episode #265 83 92 85 (260/300) 86% B
Baylor University – Episode #264 61 67 42 (170/300) 56% F

 

Keep up up with @educheckup on twitter and RSS for more site updated in the coming weeks. Or if you prefer, an iTunes feed is available so you can get new episodes automatically.

EDU Checkup: Missouri State University, Brown University

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

This week we had a treat with two recently redesigned site both implementing HTML5. To be honest both sites did an amazing job, although they didn’t go fully into CSS3 what they did implement is bleeding edge for most websites across the web. The first, Missouri State University took a very clean approach to their homepage. Hovering over any one of the six simple menu items at the top pull down the menu for all of them. This is a simple approach to get visitors to explore with their mouse and not be overwhelmed by a mega menu. The rest of the site was very straight forward with easy access to request information, visit campus and apply. Overall it was a smooth experience.

The second site, Brown University took photos center stage. The whole entrance experience of their site is filled with vibrant and interesting photos. Their use of text replacement makes the site feel unique but the inability to copy and paste that text makes it hard to use as a resource. Beyond the homepage the child pages are filled with useful events and promotions on the sides, they do a great job using each page to cross promote events and news. The department level sites all seem to still be maintained separately but they are on the right track with their main site.

Overall two great sites at the leading edge of HTML5 implementations. Both are worth checking out and learning from.

If you’re interested in having your university (or one of your competitors) reviewed publicly or privately feel free to submit your site. Over half of the sites reviewed on EDU Checkup are by request.

This Week’s Reviews

Site Visual Information Code Overall
Brown University – Episode #192 97 91 97 (285/300) 95% A
Missouri State University – Episode #191 95 78 97 (270/300) 90% A-

Keep up up with @educheckup on twitter and RSS for more site updated in the coming weeks. Or if you prefer, an iTunes feed is available so you can get new episodes automatically.

EDU Checkup: Arizona State University, New River Community College

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

I reviewed two sites this week that were recently redesigned. Arizona State University took advantage of as much screen real estate as possible. They didn’t implement a typical top horizontal navigation but instead used an audience list on the left and a large expanded list at the bottom of the page. This would seem to get people to scroll past, news, announcements and events every time to get to basic information. This could get annoying after a while but it’s a good way to get visitors paying attention to important items.

The second site was New River Community College. New River had a pretty interesting way of presenting degrees and certificates by loading it right on the page the visitor is on. This is nice because it is quick but the layout of the options leaves much to be desired. In addition the main menu is audience based, most of the links at replicated between all of the audiences and often feels overwhelming. They did a really good job with consistency of elements but I feel like they need to move from the default drop shadows and use something a little more subtle .

If you’re interested in having your university (or one of your competitors) reviewed publicly or privately feel free to submit your site. Over half of the sites reviewed on EDU Checkup are by request.

This Week’s Reviews

Site Visual Information Code Overall
New River Community College – Episode #186 86 72 77 (235/300) 78% C+
Arizona State University – Episode #185 90 84 86 (260/300) 86% B

Keep up up with @educheckup on twitter and RSS for more site updated in the coming weeks. Or if you prefer, an iTunes feed is available so you can get new episodes automatically.


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