I had the pleasure of spending Thanksgiving with 11 other wonderful family members this year. Two of them were my cousins, ages 14 and 16. The 14 year old is a freshman in high school already actively and excitedly thinking about college, and the 16 year old is a junior in high school narrowing down the pool. They are both incredibly bright, talented girls. Speaking with them yesterday gave me a greater insight into their passions and interests related to college, and how the college search process looks through their lenses.
While having these conversations with them about their subject areas of interest, and then turning to the computer to do some research with them, I found a few things:
- Information architecture on many college sites still below par. How is it 2011 and so many of us still haven’t figured this out yet – or haven’t been able to get the resources to assist?
- Too many university sites were organized by school/college and didn’t have an alphabetical list of majors. Or, better yet, have an intelligent bot that could find ‘majors like this’ based on keywords you type in. The 14 year old has ideas of her interests in the everyday language that she uses — but trying to match that with what various colleges name their majors/minors and trying to figure out what school they landed in? Ridiculous.
- Search on many university sites still returns useless results.
- Using Nintendo DS as a mobile device to access your university’s site is a scary reality.
- Location and your unique selling point may not be so unique.
Organizing academic programs
Search still largely returns unhelpful results
Is your content Nintendo DS friendly?
“Close enough, but far enough away”