Being a natural pessimist I wrote recently about the terrible state of University websites aiming to attract students interested in HCI and design. With many of the academic websites there appears to be a consistent contradiction in that these institutions are purporting to be ‘centres for excellence’ on one hand while displaying anything but excellence on the other. Examining many of the examples out there I felt that these examples were a worrying indication that many of these courses and their approaches teach one thing but practice the opposite. The end user experience leaving students rather underwhelmed and providing little experience to make the student sit up and take notice.

In the ever wonderful Smashing Magazine, a magazine which often has a much more optimistic view on matters of design, they have just written about the many positive examples of University and higher education websites. There are some truly excellent examples in there and for the moment at least have reduced my pessimism a little about the state of academic websites. These examples of web design and careful construction of the information architecture lead to an end user experiences that are beacons of light in a rather dark room.

In these examples it shows that in some cases the guards are being carefully looked after with the result being an environment worthy of teaching and inspiring those who visit.

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  • http://twitter.com/uxredgate Red Gate UX

    Interesting post – I especially like the conclusion: ‘use A/B testing to make sure we haven’t inadvertently caused conversions to plummet!’. I think the new product page looks much better and is kinder to the user (less cluttered, information arranged logically etc) so it needn’t be necessary to prove an uplift in conversion, rather just prove it doesn’t perform worse!

  • http://twitter.com/AdamAntacid Adam

    Interesting post – I especially like the conclusion: ‘use A/B testing to make sure we haven’t inadvertently caused conversions to plummet!’. I think the new product page looks much better and is kinder to the user (less cluttered, information arranged logically etc) so it needn’t be necessary to prove an uplift in conversion, rather just prove it doesn’t perform worse!

  • Guest

    Why don’t you guys remove the requirement to enter an email address? Why put up obstacles? And besides, how many g3rhgwrwgrw@gergwergw.com emails do you get in your db?

    • Anonymous

      Do you mean in the download process?

      We have run several experiments in the past and the results have been inconclusive. We’ll definitely revisit the form again in the future. There’s a balance between end user experience, number of downloads and lead quality to be struck.