0773: "University Website"

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drixoman
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Re: "University Website"

Postby drixoman » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:59 am UTC

Mod please merge thread

Cinder6
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Cinder6 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:00 am UTC

Registered just to add two more things. First is CALENDARS! Seriously, at my old school, it was so hard to figure out when the next day off was. Next is final schedules. I actually could never find them via link traversal; I always used Google, which had even odds of showing me the right year.

As a bonus, the ECS resources page told you all sorts of things, like how to access your email via the shell or edit your own personal webpage, but nowhere did it say what the server addresses were, or which one to use for certain services.

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Re: "University Website"

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:23 am UTC

Mod please explain to me how the report functions works again.
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tyingcatstocars
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby tyingcatstocars » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:26 am UTC

My school has not one but two websites where I have to deal with this. What's worse is that the only map is hand-drawn & slightly impressionistic so I can't tell the actual distance between buildings for scheduling classes.

oh, & they also sent me my housing assignment in Comic Sans

MakotoTheKnight
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby MakotoTheKnight » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:26 am UTC

Usable maps for parking actually made me laugh out loud. I have to go to the campus website instead of the college website to find out how much it'll cost to park.

Oh, and half of the pages on some of the departments (Math, Physics) look like they were written in 1998. No joke.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Zortag » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:36 am UTC

This is not just endemic to educational institution sites. I volunteer to run the web site for a Boy Scout council. I use fancy things like site analysis tools and common sense to make the items that people want to see are, on average, less than a click away. Every year I have to explain to the council staff why we do not have pretty pictures, flashing buttons, and the latest blurb about the Council staff on the front page.

Interestingly enough, when I talk to people in other councils they tell me "My God, your site has so much CONTENT". I accept the compliment but it makes me sad to think of all of the other Scouting sites that don't serve their parents, leaders, and youth. It really makes me proud and sad at the same time that people in other councils use our web site to get information because their sites sucks.

-*Zortag*-

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby error_frey » Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:21 am UTC

In my opinion this comic is true for each institution/company having a marketing (or $synonim) department.

Bonus points if the fancy stuff requires flash.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby ohki » Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:27 am UTC

Our main page was similar, but we had a portal (requiring login) that was customizable with all sorts of useful and completely useless things: phone directory, billing dates, 10x10 minesweeper, political cartoon of the day, etc.

Of course all the grading stuff was handled by Blackboard... which... yeah.
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby You, sir, name? » Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:46 am UTC

Our university has a student portal too. From a design perspective, it is utterly evil. It stores your state server-side. So when you click a link, and hit the back button, you don't go back. Because you've told the server you wanted to go to that page. You must find a link on the page that goes back to your previous page if you wanna go there. As an added bonus, this server-side state crashes too. Which means you must hit a reboot button. Which takes you back to the initial page. Every two or three minutes, that happens.

Whoever designed that page should be drawn and quartered.
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Mikeski » Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:06 am UTC

U North Dakota seems to have... almost none of these problems. Campus Police is the only thing not obvious from the front page (and if you need them that urgently, should you be using the school's website to find them?) Most of the marketing* isn't there. Just some "in the news" links.

So take that, Ivy League. My alma mater is xkcd-approved.

* - in the "I stepped in some marketing, now my shoes are ruined" sense.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Graham Finch » Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:08 am UTC

This is officially my favorite strip now, mainly because it resonates with the crap I have to go through.

I've been to three colleges (two lower-division, one upper), and each one has changed its website every year. It really pisses me off how I have to renavigate everything just to find out where to find my grades and sign up for classes and parking. :evil:

The lower-division campuses were at least kind enough to provide a MySite button; I could just click there (if I could find it) and I was home free. My upper-division campus, on the other hand, really puts a lot of stress on the students.

Fun fact: The link marked "Registration" doesn't provide a means of registering for courses; it only shows the schedule for when I can register. (facepalm) There's also TWO buttons labeled "Parking." One is on the left-hand sidebar; the other is very tiny in the top corner. Can you guess which one links to the place where you can actually buy permits (and even then, finding out where to purchase one isn't specifically obvious on the main parking site)?

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby pscranage » Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:17 am UTC

This is so true! My school fortunately has two websites; one for students and one for the public. Much more convenient.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Arancaytar » Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:30 am UTC

ARGH, yes! This.

Visiting my college's website frequently drives me to facepalm.

For any actual information, you will have to visit one of the hundreds of department homepages or course-specific sites, none of which (naturally) are linked to from anywhere, and whose URL you will have to carefully copy from the blackboard in the first lecture.

(You missed the first lecture because the room or time wasn't to be found? Oh man, you're screwed.)
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby You, sir, name? » Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:40 am UTC

Arancaytar wrote:For any actual information, you will have to visit one of the hundreds of department homepages or course-specific sites, none of which (naturally) are linked to from anywhere, and whose URL you will have to carefully copy from the blackboard in the first lecture.

(You missed the first lecture because the room or time wasn't to be found? Oh man, you're screwed.)


BE VERY GLAD THAT'S HOW THINGS ARE AT YOUR UNIVERSITY. We recently moved from that system to a centralized system where every single page is hosted on one woefully underpowered central server, and to make things slower than they already are, irrelevant stock photos and stuff aimed at prospective new students is edited into the pages dynamically.
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby super_aardvark » Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:56 am UTC

It's funny 'cause it's true!

...well, it's true, anyway.

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Icalasari
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Icalasari » Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:57 am UTC

www.mtroyal.ca is the site my school uses. They have most of the stuff on the right (maps are oddly hard to find, however)

The student only site, however, is where things get painful

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Sofox » Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:10 am UTC

I completely can't relate to this comic.
My college website ( http://www.tcd.ie/ ) had pretty much everything in the second bubble. I used the campus map frequently (viewable on the site or downloadable as pdf), and definitely found it useful to log in and get the contact details (and website) of various lecturers I needed to communicated with, or even other stuff like finding what my marks were in a previous exam or what my course timetable was.

The site was renovated while I was there, and another time since I was there. Each time you expect it to become worse somehow, but it instead improves in ways you didn't even realise it could be improved by.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Yla » Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:21 am UTC

This comic is The Truth.
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby MattTheTubaGuy » Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:31 am UTC

actually the UC website isn't too bad. (University of Canterbury in New Zealand, not University of California)
there is the address and phone numbers on the bottom of the main page, there is a map that is quite good that takes two clicks to get to from the main page.
key dates - 3 clicks, even though it isn't immediately obvious (it is under the current students link)
I can access my academic record with two clicks (once again under current students), a login, and one further click, where I can also change my enrolment.
I can get to the Physics and astronomy with two clicks, and see a list of the subjects for each year level with three more clicks.
there is a 'Learn' system, where I can access all the stuff I need for all the subjects (except maths fro some reason, but they have a link to the maths page anyway)

I think I would be able to get to any page I need to get to with less than ten clicks, but that is probably partially because I am used to it and know where to find
things.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby dainbramage » Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:39 am UTC

Randall get out of my head.

Just finished the first week for this semester here - which means that about 2 weeks ago I was checking to see whether it started on the 26th or 19th. Spend 30 seconds going through the main page, then said screw it and googled "usyd semester dates".

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Plasma Man » Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:41 am UTC

My biggest gripe about my university's site would be the assignment cover sheets. This is the form that needs to be filled in and attached to every single thing that you hand in. So obviously the best place to put it is in the course-specific area of the website, at the end of a 50-page pdf. After going through that a few times, I guesstimated how many assignments there'd be in the whole course and printed off that many blank ones. Then they changed the form :x
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby captHij » Fri Jul 30, 2010 10:01 am UTC

The comic is true, but you can replace "university" with just about anything else you happen to be interested in at the moment. The apparent standard in "good web design" is to subdivide the content so that you have to crawl the entire site if you happen to be looking for more than one piece of information. There is a certain cruel, selfish logic in making your customers walk through a labyrinth only to be stuck there for the rest of their browsing session hopelessly meandering, searching for the cheese. The only thing missing is the electrodes....

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby grlgoddess » Fri Jul 30, 2010 10:42 am UTC

Ugh. University websites designed like this ruined my life (or, at least a few assignments). I have no idea why teachers thought that assignments involving looking at these sites would be useful for anything, cause they really aren't.

An annoying thing about my uni site, is that you have to type in the 'www.' otherwise it takes you to the CS web server. Not the best planning, imo.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby uncivlengr » Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:00 am UTC

I used my university's website for webmail, logging into my student account, going to the library page, getting to my department's page, or searching for a faculty member's or staff's email/phone.

There are direct links to all of those things on the front page. Anything more specific is of course going to take some more time.

Of course a university's front page isn't going to be a little repository of all the daily crap students use. "I have to click ten times to get my assignment cover sheets!" - that's because 95% of the visitors of the site won't care about your stupid cover sheets. Bookmark the link and stop whining.
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby You, sir, name? » Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:28 am UTC

uncivlengr wrote:I used my university's website for webmail, logging into my student account, going to the library page, getting to my department's page, or searching for a faculty member's or staff's email/phone.

There are direct links to all of those things on the front page. Anything more specific is of course going to take some more time.

Of course a university's front page isn't going to be a little repository of all the daily crap students use. "I have to click ten times to get my assignment cover sheets!" - that's because 95% of the visitors of the site won't care about your stupid cover sheets. Bookmark the link and stop whining.


Well, while 95% of the visitors don't care about my specific cover sheets, they do care about -their- cover sheets or other student-related information.

I think you'll have to look long and hard for the 5% who genuinely gives a damn about the university motto and nothing-saying press releases.

It really isn't that hard to design a web site that caters to everyone. You make one site for prospective students where you put all the advertisement nonsense, one for students, and one for employees. You make it easy to find these three branches from the main page. Not more than one click. And make damn sure to keep them separate. Don't put advertisement crud and stock photos in the student pages. Don't put information about where this year's faculty x-mas dinner is in the advertisement pages. Don't put class schedules among the employee pages.

See, easy wasn't it?
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Union Of V » Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:31 am UTC

If only my future University had even a carefully hidden page that I could bookmark, but in their infinite wisdom they've decided to have a separate portal for each Department, Faculty and Course, and spread the info throughout them! Gah!

And if there is a site map, I haven't found it yet, and neither have the dozens of posters who fill the forums with "Where is X" threads...

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby elrunethe2nd » Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:34 am UTC

This is a brilliant comic, and I really want to send it to every staff member of my goddamn university right damn now.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Misnomer » Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:38 am UTC

Haha, this comic has it spot on. If you want to see pictures of smiling graduates and proud-looking sports teams, my uni's website is ideal. God help you if you want to find out anything about course structure or fees though...
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby OCEAT » Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:43 am UTC

Randall, get out of my head!
I'm currently in the middle of the college process, and when trying to Request Information, there have been many an internet maze to navigate. So far, Syracuse has been the worst, since searching "Request Information" gives me a link to a different school than the main one, and the regular menu maze is frustrating on its own.
On the plus side, after finding the Request Information, I start thinking that if I can find that, I'm smart enough to get into the school!

Wait, I think we've just found our new application process.
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby littlelj » Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:47 am UTC

I laughed out loud for a different reason.

A (shall remain nameless) university I have dealings with has two different "official" names on its main page... It took eleven clicks and RSI from scrolling through a 112-page PDF to get a definitive answer.

And :shock: at all the information current students expect to find online. Finals results at my university (and its arch-nemesis) are still only available by going down to the [official building] on the "we will probably publish them then" days (which fall after term ends) and looking at the in-order-of-achievement list posted outside the building. Yes, outside. Your next-door-neighbour's cleaner's cousin will see them before you find them...
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby michaelyw » Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:51 am UTC

Funny, but my University's website (http://www.eou.edu/) is actually pretty well organized.

Now, at least. I don't remember what it looked like while I was actually a student.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby You, sir, name? » Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:52 am UTC

littlelj wrote:And :shock: at all the information current students expect to find online. Finals results at my university (and its arch-nemesis) are still only available by going down to the [official building] on the "we will probably publish them then" days (which fall after term ends) and looking at the in-order-of-achievement list posted outside the building. Yes, outside. Your next-door-neighbour's cleaner's cousin will see them before you find them...


Are you sure? Judging from the state of most universities' websites, they may well be published online, ... somewhere. Some 30 odd clicks in.
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Rory » Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:58 am UTC

My university’s main website http://drexel.edu/ can be hard to navigate, but they recently introduced a categorized portal subsite that provides easy links to everything on the right side of the comic at http://www.drexel.edu/blueline/ (named Blue Line after some subway line or something). It works very well.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Eldan » Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:59 am UTC

Hmmm... no...

http://www.ethz.ch/index_EN

Not much of that, actually.
No slideshows, event promotions, press releases, philosophy, letters or virtual tours.
Alumni, though.

But it does have maps and lists.


Edit: partially unrelated question:

Campuses have their own polices, now!?

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby You, sir, name? » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:09 pm UTC

Eldan wrote:Hmmm... no...

http://www.ethz.ch/index_EN

Not much of that, actually.
No slideshows, event promotions, press releases, philosophy, letters or virtual tours.
Alumni, though.

But it does have maps and lists.


Holy crap. That's like the best university website I've ever seen. You guys have design students? Because I blame all the failings of my university website on the fact that we have design students that meddle with their aesthetics and blatant disregard for the sanctity of functionality.



Eldan wrote:Edit: partially unrelated question:

Campuses have their own polices, now!?


They do in america for some obscure reason.
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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Eldan » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:12 pm UTC

Ah. Well, it probably has something to do with students living on campus over there. Our university buildings are in the middle of the city and students live an hour away in their own flats.

And no, I don't think we have any designers. Pretty much only scientists, engineers, computer people and architects.

As a further bonus, since people complained: signing up for lectures involves four clicks:
1. Choosing your major
2. Choosing your year
3. Clicking on the lecture you want
4. Clicking "send"

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby amodelqueso » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:18 pm UTC

Here's my "Get outta my head Randall" moment finally. For Christs sake, I don't give a crap if a student from 4 years ago just landed a job designing graphics for the local news station, I want some goddam useful information on the front page!

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby SirMustapha » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:25 pm UTC

This comic is so true.

But not funny at all.

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby ahecht » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:29 pm UTC

scalziand wrote:Yes, these things are true.

Still, a couple years ago a couple students created an arcade cabinet that would show the campus in first person. Unfortunately, such a thing is not accessible through the website.


WPI?

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Re: "University Website" discussion (#773)

Postby Griffin » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:36 pm UTC

I design university websites. I feel your pain.

We don't want to do it this way. Most of us are smarter than this. But we learn really really quickly, WE are not the ones who gets to decide what matters and what doesn't. These websites are not FOR you, the students. They are not for you, the parents. They exist solely for the administration to brag to other universities while paying lip service to functionality.

And oh god the fights about who's department gets to be the link that goes on top of the departments list... ::sigh::

I try to make my corner more usable and useful than the average page, but its a constant uphill battle.
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