Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Purpose of the University Home Page

A very high level overview of the purposes of a university home page.

Why have a home page? I mean, really, who uses it? There's nothing important on it that can't be found elsewhere, and it's just a big political football. Why not just put up a nice 404 page and leave it at that?

OK, OK, I was just kidding (sort of). Your home page is more than just a huge political nightmare. It serves, in fact, a large number of audiences, a large number of purposes, and takes on a lot of different roles.

Let's start of easy with large-scale types of purposes. We can work down to more detail from there.
  1. Branding
  2. Marketing
  3. Communication
  4. Navigation
In his article on Home Page Goals, Derek Powazek echoes some of these four purposes in his four goals:
  1. Answer the question, “What is this place?”
  2. Don’t get in the repeat visitor’s way
  3. Show what’s new
  4. Provide consistent, reliable global navigation
Of course, these four purposes don't exist in a vacuum:
  1. Branding for whom?
  2. Marketing of what to whom?
  3. Communication of what to whom to what end?
  4. Navigation to where for whom?
You have to answer these questions before you should even think about having a home page.

If you have other gross-level purposes, I'd like to hear them.

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