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Joshua CharlesJoshua Charles, Director of Web Governance & Communications – at Rutgers Business School, is one of the 12 presenters of the 2019 Higher Ed WEBSITES Conference.

In this 3-question interview, Joshua tells us about the worst and best web trends in higher ed, a great tool and shares a top 3 of favorite higher ed websites.

1) What are the worst and best design trends used on higher ed websites?

This is by no means new, but one trend I hope to see disappear in higher education is singular websites designed for everyone. “Everyone” is not a real audience. Prospective students are real, as are prospective parents, current students, faculty, and alumni. Sites that don’t have a clear understanding of their target audiences and user journeys often go hand-in-hand with poor user experiences. That’s not good for end-users or the school.

One trend I would love to see continue is the usage of open-source platforms like Drupal. The flexibility, sustainability, security, and cost-effectiveness are night and day compared to the old days of proprietary systems and vendor lock-in. This relates to web design because the number of agencies and individuals experienced in open-source platforms is likely far greater than vendor-specific platforms.

2019 Higher Ed Websites Conference

2) What are your top 3 favorite higher ed websites?

Stanford Graduate School of Business
They use Drupal very effectively to relate different types of content. For example, faculty publications, books, and working papers are tagged by author. The tagging system combined with smart information architecture enables robust search and filtering for end-users, and a degree of automation for content managers. Their system also reduces duplicate faculty content as it’s created once, tagged, and fed into appropriate contexts around the site.

Goshen College
Their site does a great job communicating who they are, visualizing the student experience, and remaining simple to use. Their content is also user-focused, informative, and doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Tuck School of Business
What stands out to me is the well-designed sitemap for their main site and their strategic use of subdomains for other internal and external functions. I think there are technical and web governance advantages to having sites that do one or two things really well, and spinning off auxiliary functions into separate sites, rather than having one or a handful of mega sites that try to be everything to everyone. Tuck does a great job simplifying and managing its portfolio of web needs.

3) What’s your favorite tool for web work?

We use a variety of tools for web ops, but my favorite is Basecamp 3. From small updates in one area of a website to large-scale website redesigns, Basecamp helps us keep track of dozens and sometimes hundreds of different tasks spread across the team. It also doubles as a communications platform making it easy to share status updates and discuss simple topics or questions, significantly reducing our reliance on costly and time-consuming meetings.

A conference focusing on higher ed WEBSITES?

The 2019 Higher Ed WEBSITES Conference is a must-attend event for higher ed web professionals and teams looking for inspiration, ideas and best practices to kick off their summer projects.

Read below what a few of your higher ed colleagues who attended the 1st edition of the Higher Ed WEBSITES Conference say about the experience.

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