5 Essential Tips for Improving the Usability and User Experience of Your Higher Ed Website

One of the main goals of any website project is to produce a website that is easy to use. Usability is sometimes reduced down to “easy to use,” but it really is so much more. I could write a whole article about the definition of usability, but today I’d like to jump straight to a few tips that can be applied to your existing site, gleaned both from my professional experiences and Steve Krug’s awesome book, Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Website Usability.

Five-Second Rule

Pause for a moment to take a deep inhale and exhale. That’s all the time you get from a website visitor. In order to earn a second breath, your website needs to communicate your message clearly to the user and provide them with the appropriate next steps.

This rule doesn’t just apply to first impressions of your homepage; consider the five-second rule as it pertains to accomplishing basic tasks on your site, like finding out when fall semester applications are due. Users typically just dive in, muddling through your site, quickly scrolling and clicking to get what they want. They don’t take the time to analyze your entire page and pick the best choice. Realistically, they look feverishly around for anything that is interesting or vaguely resembles what they are looking for, and then they click! If they mistakenly click the wrong link, the back button is a painless exit to try again.
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Avoid Content Debt to Keep Your Website Looking Sharp

When you launch a website, it’s like driving off the lot with a brand-new car. It’s shiny and perfect in that moment, but over time it starts to get worn down. If you ignore routine maintenance long enough, your car will inevitably grind to a halt.

Web developers are familiar with this concept in terms of “technical debt,” the theory that writing easy—rather than reliable—code will create compounding issues for a website further on down the road. Basically, it’s like repairing your car (or your website) with an extravagant amount of duct tape. Continue Reading

An Explanation of Domain Name System (DNS)

If you have your own website or domain name, you may have had to deal with DNS entries, especially if you have ever moved your website from one web hosting provider to another or changed email services. The Domain Name System is one of the hidden, behind-the-scenes technologies that makes the Internet work.

How does DNS work and why is it such an integral part of all things Internet? Well, when you type a domain name into your browser’s address bar, your Internet service provider’s domain name server translates that domain into an IP address by looking at the website’s domain records. With the resulting IP address, your browser can locate the requested website. Continue Reading