This post, in which I get crotchety about faculty micromeddling, originally appeared Jul 7, 2014, on another blog of mine. In it you’ll find the origin story of the 30 Questions.
I developed the idea behind the 30 Questions exercise several years ago after a faculty member took it upon herself to become the university’s marketing department. She discovered the World Wide Web at 9 a.m. on a sunny Thursday morning. By 2 p.m. she was issuing directives as to the design and features of the university’s web site.
This post originally appeared June 30, 2014, on another blog of mine. It tells more about how we came to try the 30 Questions exercise. The order (which doesn’t matter) has changed and a couple of the questions may have been rephrased slightly, but otherwise it’s the same.
Nobody, not even web professionals, can look at a web site for 30 seconds and tell if it’s good. They can tell immediately if they think it’s attractive, and people with an experienced eye can pick out obvious problem areas. To assess a web site’s quality, we have to start by separating the content and function from the presentation.
Not once in more than a decade of involvement in every aspect of university web sites have I heard a decision-maker ask the most important question of all: “Is this good for our visitors?” This doesn’t surprise me one iota. What astonishes me is that some government watchdog group isn’t all over this yet.
One of the reasons I’ve put off starting this blog for years is that nobody’s coined a term yet for what I want to write about. Google “virtual campus” and the top results will be either a university’s online course offerings or its campus tour.
That’s not at all what I mean. For me, “virtual campus” is a way of thinking about a university’s web presence: approaching it not as collection of documents and web apps but as a collection of virtual buildings, rooms and property managed in a manner comparable to the best practices of physical plant operations.