Academic department and program sites are a crucially important source of information for prospective students— and one of Saint Mary’s biggest recruitment opportunities.
General IA & Content Recommendations
When prospects come to the SMC site for the first time, they may not be interested in reading information from the Admissions office about why Saint Mary’s is such a great place to go to school— more likely, they’ll want to see the school in action, and get a sense of the kind of things that students do at SMC.
The department pages are likely to be among their first destinations; that’s why it’s important that their content be considered just as carefully as the site’s top level landing pages.
Departmental navigation and content should be presented in a way that acknowledges prospects as a primary audience. At the same time, these sites are well-used tools for communication within departments, between faculty and students, and outside departments, among faculty of different institutions, and they must continue to serve their own communities’ unique needs. So departmental sites must balance quick access to helpful information with an effective presentation of the students, faculty and research activities that they’re made of.
For SMC’s academic departments and programs, the IA and content strategies proposed here recommend a presentation of content that appeals to a public audience while maintaining a high level of scholarly professionalism and service to current students. The goal should be to produce friendly, well-written, consistently organized, richly dynamic academic department and program sites that benefit all constituents.
On top of this, the sites should feel clean and uncluttered; all information should be appropriately compartmentalized and presented, easy to quickly digest. Those prospects who want to dig deeper can always do so, but the personality of a department should be easy to read at a glance.