Wednesday, March 07, 2012

How Is USDA/FSA Like a College?

IMO the government webmasters could learn a bit from Timothy Burke, in this post on How to Read Departmental Webpages (and How to Make Them Readable). He compares different colleges in the accessibility of their webpages and offers suggestions to potential students on how to interpret things.  Among his lessons:
A few modest proposals:
It wouldn’t hurt anyone if college webpages had an archival or curatorial function, particularly at the departmental level. I keep a Twitter window open to the keyword Swarthmore: I get a pretty interesting picture of what’s being said about the college that way. ...
It wouldn’t hurt anyone if the descriptions of programs were punchier, more engaging, more real. Faculty love to complain about administrative-speak, committee-speak, but I’d make a guess that many of the deadliest, most abstract descriptions of departments, disciplines and programs were written by faculty.
College webpages in general should very quickly yield in their architecture to different kinds of searchers. ...
Colleges should provide a clear lexicon both of terms and concepts common to higher education as a whole and specific to their curricula and it should be one click away at all times.
Links that lead to dead, old, or private pages are bad and yet are also surprisingly common.

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