March 4, 2005
According to a new report released by the Neilsen Norman Group, three-quarters of American teens are Web users. To attract those Web users to a site it all comes down to interactivity. The authors of the report, "Teenagers on the Web: Usability Guidelines For Creating Compelling Web Sites," say teenagers are more interested in "doing something as opposed to just sitting and reading."
In an effort to attract that group of users to the Ohio University Web site, University Communications and Marketing launched a new "front door" for the university's Web site, www.ohio.edu. The site was designed for prospective students, who are in the process of deciding which institution to select for their undergraduate career.
If you prefer a less informal home page, change the default home page from the new front door to Outlook on your Web browser: ‹www.ohio.edu/outlook›. This Web site is a useful resource in keeping our campus community informed of university news and information. It also features stories about the people - faculty, staff, alumni and students - who are the members of the Ohio University community.
PC users utilizing Microsoft Internet Explorer should go to Tools ---> Internet Options. Then simply type http://www.ohio.edu/outlook in the home page address box (under the "General" tab) and click on "OK."
Apple computer users utilizing Microsoft Internet Explorer should go to Explorer ---> Preferences ---> Browser Display. Then simply type http://www.ohio.edu/outlook in the address box and click on "OK."
Apple computer users utilizing the Safari browser should go to Safari ---> Preferences and type http://www.ohio.edu/outlook in the home page address block, and then press the return key.
The university decided to take a bold step and focus on this audience by creating something far different from our peers to directly appeal to 17- and 18-year-olds. The site showcases the institution's academic strengths and tells the university story in a new, fresh way that is attractive to this audience.
The theme of the new front door is a student desktop, presenting the information through objects familiar to this group such as post-it notes, an iPod-like device and photos.
Visitors to the site who are not prospective students may feel a bit lost as to where they can find their information. The bar located at the top of the site just below the Ohio University mark provides direct links to pages for various audiences to navigate to Web pages created specifically for groups including current students, alumni, parents and faculty and staff.
The new front door is only slightly bigger than the university's current site, meaning it might take one or two extra seconds load time on a modem. A text-based version of the page is also provided to not only allow for an option for those who desire a faster page load, but also for any users with disabilities needing a more friendly option for screen readers.
Numerous groups and individuals were involved in reviewing the Web site before its launch, including the university's Enrollment Management Committee, the Deans' council, senior officers of the university and President Roderick McDavis.
This redesigned site is the first step towards a more permanent change of the Ohio University front door. President Roderick McDavis has asked that the site continue to focus on prospective students as the primary audience, even after May 1. In addition, the university plans to use the front door to tell even more stories about our academic excellence.