by Laura Huenneke, Provost
Communication has been a frequent theme this year. Our educational mission and our collective work as a community both depend upon it. Websites have become an essential—in many ways, the fundamental—means of communication for us.
Prospective students learn about the university, potential collaborators check out our researchers and more of our business processes are executed via the web rather than through paper, telephone and physical visits.
How effective is our current use of this vital and powerful medium?
The university is partially through the latest redesign of its website, so today one encounters a mix of new and old pages. The new version is aesthetically pleasing, and redesigned pages are carefully planned to present useful and accessible information.
Yet we often need help remembering that web visitors don’t necessarily understand the labels we use or search content the same way we do. In the Research office, for example, we were chagrined to learn that students clicked on “Research” when they wanted to learn about the university’s degree programs, then were disappointed to see information about our scientific and scholarly research efforts.
The new design is also structured for ease of updating and changing content—historically a challenge for many NAU units. Most frequently staff members bear this responsibility for maintaining website content. What has been your experience? Has your website been through the redesign process yet? How easy has the new content management approach proven to be? What additional support is needed to make sure the university’s web presence is attractive and effective?