TU website in need of better, more frequent updates

During a class assignment for Writing for the Professions, I kept hearing the same complaints about the University of Tulsa’s department webpages: they lacked images, event calendars or recent news, had links to old or non-existent pages and didn’t address students needs. One student put it in blunt terms, saying “It’s boring.”
The university should be working to correct this, if it’s attempting to market TU to a larger audience of students. Students interested in a specific major at TU will make the department website one of the first things they check, besides the admissions tab. Each department’s website needs to be informative, interesting and highlight TU’s strengths. Obviously, each department’s website is somewhat unique, so it’s difficult to make a total blanket statement about what every site needs to add, but overall, many of the same issues appeared in the different departments’ websites.
Most of the department sites don’t have an events calendar, which could highlight seminars or other talks in the department. My own department, biology, would seem to have no events ever occurring, yet I know they have seminars every few weeks with interesting speakers. While I may learn about them as a biology major, other majors might not, even if the topic interests them. News, too, on the websites is often old, and doesn’t highlight any recent publications of the faculty.
Lacking these topics makes the department seem less relevant for prospective students. Finding no events on the webpage would give prospective students the incorrect idea about the department, making it seem boring. Those same students, not seeing any recent news or publications from the department, might believe the department is either not newsworthy and relevant, discarding it from their list of choices, or doesn’t prize its faculty and students enough to highlight their accomplishments.
Too many sites are just blocks of text, which while informative, is visually unattractive and causes the audience to lose interest. This even occurred on pages where it wasn’t difficult to think of an image to use, such as one about the facilities available in the department.
Pictures or videos can show prospective students a glimpse of life on campus, so they can imagine themselves there, or show off the research faculty is doing. What is said in the text can be summarized or supported by a picture, making TU more attractive. From a design standpoint, pictures break up the monotony of text and catch the viewer’s eye, especially in today’s world, where computers and phones have emphasised photos, clips and informational graphics to convey information. While having written information is, in the end, going to provide the specifics a picture can’t, images still need to be there.
While it showed up in different forms, one of the other major issues was content. This came in two forms: either incorrect content or lacking content. Some in my class complained their department’s webpage had incorrect information: an opportunity they were told no longer existed or a link to a nonfunctional page. The mathematics department at TU, for instance, has two links on its research subpage. Both of these links lead to a “Page not found” error. This sort of content issue is misleading, and somewhat embarrassing, to prospective and current students who may be interested in a topic, and should be taken down.
These suggestions do not exist in a vacuum; they were formed through comparing TU’s webpages to other, similar universities throughout the country. And while TU had some good points, like the color scheme and simplicity, it often lacked the elements described above, which made comparative universities’ websites more appealing. Even if TU is more appealing when visiting, the website is, most likely, going to be what people see first. That means it needs to be good enough to keep people’s interest. And current students also need the website to function for them, which includes adding more events and news.
TU often brags about its faculty, facilities and curriculum, but the departments’ websites do not reflect that pride. These sites are often not useful for current students, and prospective students may think the department is not relevant and boring because of them. While the faculty, facilities, student life and curriculum should remain the foremost goals of the university, changing the websites should remain on the university’s mind, to make TU on par with equally competitive universities and to truly highlight what makes TU special.

Post Author: Michaela Flonard