Saturday, March 22, 2008

Website Problems for The School of Media and Public Affairs

Although it may not be the most timely of topics, I've been meaning to write about the School of Media and Public Affairs website for awhile. My thoughts?

It's awful.

Since before I even applied to the Political Communication program, I've been disappointed by the school's website, given that most students who are seeking information about the SMPA will go to it for information. This disappointment has only grown after I've taken SMPA classes and seen not only that the SMPA is a proponent of new media and effective media strategies. Judging from the website, it seems that the school couldn't care less about the use of the internet in media, which is far from true.

My chief complaints:
a) It lacks coherent organization structure - when I was first applying to the political communication program, I had to click through four or five links until I found the application and information I was looking for. In many other instances on the website, information about the school and programs was hard to come by.

b) It casts a negative impression of the school - by this, I mean that for many potential students, this website is the first experience they have with the program. What does it say to those students when the website of a school based around effective media looks like articles thrown onto a webpage?

d) It's just plain ugly - at first glace, it comes off looking like a Geocities webpage template from the late 1990s.
It's amazing that the SMPA doesn't understand the importance of a good website. Perhaps they would be well served talking to creators of the University of Maryland's Communications Department website, which looks how the SMPA's website should - that effort was put into it. Then, they should sit down with their web designer and begin planning a new website that shows they practice what they preach - that the internet is a powerful outreach tool that, when used with some effort, can be truly beneficial to the SMPA.

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