Washtenaw Community College

Washtenaw Community College
2009 Winner Best Home Page sponsored by WebHostingSearch.com
Noteworthy May 2009
Redesigned February 2009
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68 votes
View: http://www.wccnet.edu
Submitted by: maliwi
School: Washtenaw Community College
Location: Michigan, US


This is such an improvement over the previous design. It's still not used throughout the site but it's getting better every week. There's so much to like here.

It appears that they took time to apply their new header to some of the pages that have yet to be updated. Nice touch. TU

Not my style. Way too much going on the home page, and other pages I visited.

Lots of imagery used when text would work, for navigation and the audience - basics in website accessibility seem to have been ignored.

Announcements has a high visibility on top of home page, but has for several days said "There are no announcements..." Why give announcements such visibility if there's nothing to say?

This is very nice. A great example of thinking outside of the box! I love the color palette here, and the use of images and illustration is very interesting. Good typography too.

As far as the announcements section - I don't see the problem here. It's a prime spot for important information. I don't see the point in making it less visible just because they didn't have anything to say on one particular day.

@homebird I mostly agree with you on announcements but users may develop a blind spot if there's usually nothing there.

@karenstewart The page appears to be coded for accessibility if the concern is being readable by voice browsers.

I see what you're saying, and that very well could happen. But, that's not necessarily a problem with the design. It's probably one of those situations where someone insisted it be there and didn't stop to consider the content that would be needed to support that particular feature.

I think it's great! @karenstewart - yes, there is a lot going on (as with most higher ed sites) but I think it's uncluttered and well-organized. And I love the use of illustration, too.

A colleague and I performed a heuristic walk-through on the new WCC site during a session at a recent conference there. Here are the things we noted:
-Top navigation: A-Z index of what? Not clear. Clicked on it and went to a page labeled Services, which is not what you would expect.
-The left-hand navigation doesn't look like a navigation until you roll over it with a mouse. Looks like a graphic.
-The bottom navigation is very useful.
-The search box is where you would expect
-Could not figure out how to find a list of classes from the home page.
-Too much wasted space before the content on most pages.
-Text links look like links, but many graphics that are links do not.
-The calendar requires a mouseover to see content. Inaccessible.
-Text is scannable and readable. Not sure color contrast would validate.

@pattyb I've been thinking about the WCC calendar as well. What is the happy medium between the WCC calendar and the one found here [http://uuis.umich.edu/events/calendar.cfm]? Too little and too much. Also the event mouseovers work in a way that I think would be accessible. With JavaScript unavailable the dots require a click that brings the visitor to the daily view. With both CSS and JavaScript unavailable clickable text is revealed. I think in theory this would work for someone using a speech browser. With either a mouseover or click the dots would still be difficult for visitors with impaired mobility.

It's great when designers can pull off the whimsical and not compromise on navigation and organization. I really like it.

However, on thing I might note, is that it is key when there are a lot of graphics that there should be some heavy cross-browser testing. I was just about to type that I didn't like this site because of all the dead space in the body, when I thought to check out the site in IE7. It looks great in the IE browser. Not so much in FF3.0. The ABOUT US menu ends up below ACADEMICS leaving the right side completely empty and creating a lot of empty space.

While the design is much nicer than the previous design, IMO the site is overly dependent on imagery where text could have been used instead.

Like @pattyb, the links in the left side of the page didn't appear to be links to me.

Like most higher ed websites, the calendar page is problematic. How to best display events, what events/activities should be included, and what type of searching is required is an ongoing issue for colleges. When I come to any calendar page (whether a college website or any other website), I expect to see calendar events listed/displayed, not a series of colored dots on a page.

Requiring the user to select a dot to find out what it means is not something I would consider very usable.

@homebird We all have that issue for any website we design, the need to fulfill the request of a specific decision maker or stakeholder. But given the announcement has had no "announcement" in the past five times I visited the Washtenaw college website over the last week, I would think that whomever is the decision maker/stakeholder would understand this is wasted space and could be better used.

@Tanger I agree, additional testing would be helpful in identifying browser-specific issues before release.

I found the graphics a bit too whimsical. Not sure the meaning of the green frog (or is it a mouse) in the bottom right corner of the home page? Does Washtenaw have a mascot?

I must take back what I said about the calendar being mouse-dependent. Upon further investigation I have discovered that one can tab through the various days and hit enter to see the content for that day. Bad thing is that after one does that, when they tab again, they start back at the top of the page.

The earthy colors look great here, and I love the spotlight section.


Regarding the AZ Index, judging by this article from the student newspaper it sounds like the powers-that-be changed the name of that section (search for "A to Z": http://media.www.wccvoice.com/media/storage/paper1168/news/2009/03/16/WccNews/As.Easy.As.boom.Boom.Boom-3672962.shtml

ksusable, just because the decision maker "should" realize that doesn't mean they will. :)

Strange calendar. Dots? A calendar shows events and descriptions. And no RSS/iCal option?

This is a great looking site. I love the overall style and color scheme.

the event mouseovers work in a way that I think would be accessible. With JavaScript unavailable the dots require a click that brings the visitor to the daily view. With both CSS and JavaScript unavailable clickable text is revealed.

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The coding is divine.

As a frontend designer, I think that this design is spot on for the audience that colleges traditionally look for. There are some things I don't agree with but I think the look and feel is in the direction that higher ed needs to take.

I'm always excited to see sites that seem to have done their research. Tha fact that this site is an example of both good coding and design is proof of that. Defintite thumbs up.

Great work! I love the colors and how the photo's blend with the illustrations. I'm a big fan of scribble art.

Beautiful website! I have been working on higher education websites for only a short time, but am thoroughly impressed with the meticulous attention to detail, the unique visuals (particularly the illustrations such as the one on this page), and the comprehensive content. I think you've hit your target market very effectively.

A small addition to my initial comment: I think the type could be improved a bit. Even increasing the leading on the main content a bit would improve legibility and "open" the design more.

This still doesn't change my positive vote though...not even close.

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