If you’re like me, when you pull up the UVU Web site on your preferred browser, you are reminded of that ominous drawer in the kitchen full of broken pens, sticky notes, forgotten receipts, eraserless pencils, etc. Whatever you need is probably in there, but your chances of finding it are about the same as finding a pet monkey in your bedroom tonight.
If you count – and you don’t have to because I already did – there are over 45 links on the homepage itself. Although most of these may be useful, they are not logical in placement or structure. Finding what you’re looking for is like reading Where’s Waldo in the dark.
Web Resources Director Anne Arendt acknowledges, “We have a mentality that people need to be on the home page. What we really need is logical structure.”
The home page is so awkward becaue everyone with some type of authority or influence deems their department or organization so important they absolutely must be included on it. On the contrary, it just makes things really confusing for the rest of us.
The less-than-intuitive design can be very frustrating to students. However, contrary to popular belief, the purpose of the homepage isn’t necessarily student use. The Web Advisement Council (WAC), who is in charge of making most major plans and decisions for the site, has said, The UVU web mission is to promote the University and its mission, vision, and values, communicate with; engage key stakeholders; and enable the completion of University processes.” Nowhere in this mission statement are students referenced, although they might be considered stakeholders. Clearly, the WAC is not pandering to students.
According to Arendt, one of the main purposes of the homepage is marketing, and in this light the homepage makes more sense. It’s possible that university leaders are attempting to use their “skillz on the internets” to attract potential students and investors. I mean, the inane digital corkboard has to be there for a reason – perhaps to remind all of us of the dorm room we never had.
Now, before fingers of blame get pointed, let’s take a look in the mirror. The student body carries part of the blame for such a bewildering page. When the site redesign was released, a random survey was issued to every fiftieth visitor of the homepage.
Of the 735 people that actually took the survey, the vast majority of respondents rated the new design highly in appearance and (amazingly) usability. Prevalent comments from the survey flatly contradicted other results from said survey, stating that the site is “cluttered,” “busy” and “unprofessional.” What are the people in charge of the site supposed to do with such contradictory data? If you want an answer, I refer you to our current home page.
We need to simplify. Let’s make it easy for students as well as potential investors to find exactly what we have to offer. Most importantly, K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid).