Mike Henderson, Web Smithy at Adams State University, is one of the 12 presenters of the 2019 Higher Ed WEBSITES Conference.
In this 3-question interview, Mike 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?
I would put background video in a bad design trend bucket. If not implemented well it can really slow down the page load of a site. It also adds an accessibility issue if you don’t provide the user a way to turn off the animation or present a pause button. Conversions can also be negatively affected by background video. A colleague of mine ran a test on their homepage and conversions fell 20% when the video was present versus a static image.
I tend to look outside of higher ed to find new design trends. Something I’m seeing a lot of momentum around are headless CMS installs with static site generators. Tools like Gatsby have plugins that will connect to a CMS like WordPress to serve as the primary data source. These tools are very performant out of the box hitting very high marks in Lighthouse audits.
2) What are your top 3 favorite higher ed websites?
Valdosta State University
Valdosta has been on my inspiration list for a while. This site is really clean, nice typography, and I’m a fan of their school colors. I like how they incorporate screened images across the site in red and grey to give the visitor a feel for the campus.
St. John Fisher College
I really like how SJFC has approached their major and minor navigation. As you filter and select a program you are given a glimpse at what the program is about and other information is provided like a contact without having to visit the next page.
Point Park University
A friend pointed this site out the other night and it has stuck with me. It has a nice color scheme and I like how the navigation tucks into the left side of the window as you navigate the site. The map graphic behind the navigation is a nice touch.
3) What’s your favorite tool for web work?
I’m a big fan of Visual Studio Code.
It makes my daily developer experience that much better. I have several projects going at any given time and it allows me to switch between projects quickly with workspaces. The integrated terminal is very convenient and it has a large plugin library. I recently installed PHP Code Sniffer and it has helped me to write code more closely to the WordPress coding standard. The built in source control tools make if very easy to clean up git commits and compare changes.
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.Tags: hew19, Higher Ed Marketing, Higher Ed News