1st edition — by Patrick McNeil — Jan. 12, 2007
The Site Type
University web sites are a very unique challenge. Having previously worked at a university where I maintained multiple web sites I have a few thoughts on the topic. And now that they can't fire me, I guess I can say what I want!
Not that I have anything particularly bad to say. From my experience, the single biggest hurdle for the web designer and developer at a university is death by committee. It seems that committees have the ability to water down and destroy what the designers might promote. The other really bad thing that seemed to happen is that someone high up, not involved in the process at all, would just make an executive decision about the site or its design and force changes. In the end watered down design is what your often left with.
With these difficulties in mind, I want to point out how great the sites below are. I suppose it proves this doesn't have to be the case, that it is possible for universities to produce wonderful sites. For me the irony of the university site has always been that its greatest influences are the faculty, people who will least likely relate to the 18 year old kids scouting out schools. It seems to me that universities would be smart to take on more of a marketing approach when building their sites. Certainly you will see evidence of this in the sites below.
One thing that fascinates me about this set of links is the quantity of red. As I have frequently mentioned, red is a powerful color, it stands for confidence and boldness. So how does this fit in with a university? I see two possible reasons for this. One, universities are centers of knowledge, where quite frequently the most knowledgeable people on any given topic might work. That being the case, they can be bold about their status and knowledge. No need to be passive, they are smart pools of people. Secondly, red is bold, and from a marketing standpoint it stands out. Just looking at the list of sites I am drawn to the red ones. They seem almost more confident, and attract attention.
The university site is most certainly a tough challenge for the designers and developers who work in this industry. Enjoy the links, and as usual, send me any beautiful ones I have missed, there must be a ton of them!