I'm a big fan of Jared Spool and was excited to see that he has written a column using a college site as an example. That happens so seldom (although sometimes higher education sites are used as examples of how to mess something up.)
The Right Information looks at a the Web site for the Department of Nutrition at Penn State's College of Health & Human Development. Spool asks important questions about how to encourage your audience to view/read the information they need, how to present it in a way that's comprehensible to an outsider, writing links that users are confidant in selecting, and simply communicating well.
Unfortunately the article doesn't address the issues of working with people who insist on using internal language, how to communicate clearly on the Web something no one can communicate clearly to you about in person, or how to obtain the money for testing. But I would never ask someone outside of higher education to take on a task like that. That's what our little salon is for.
Which leads me to an issue I struggle with. Spool states, "Users like getting their first click right. Our studies consistently show that users don't like bouncing back and forth between different links on a page." I need to help students choose between clicking on a link for an M.A. in a program area or a link for one of two M.Ed. options in the same program area. I try but I'm not at all confidant that I succeed. If someone would like to take a look at http://education.umn.edu/CI/Art/default.html and give me some ideas, I'd love to hear them. I give users a little bit of information about targeted audiences for the three degrees, but nothing about other major differences such as tuition, the ability to get into a Ph.D. program, or the likelyhood of receiving an assistantship.Posted by bullwink at June 29, 2005 4:57 PM