Re: An ancient, elite college?

It’s now online here.

Couple thoughts:

  • Doesn’t this look positively outdated? That picture is so 1999!
  • If you’re going to force people to use brand-new browsers to view the thing and give them nasty messages if they don’t, why not take advantage that fact and ditch the tables? Still, I am impressed that there are no font tags in sight.
  • It is not a bad thought, but couldn’t this be better integrated? How hard would it be to translate 100 words. On the plus side: almost no text-as-images. In other words, it should download more quickly, look better on slim browsers, be more accessible and translatable, etc.
  • The page title: “Dartmouth College – Hanover, NH, USA”. What’s the use of the location ID? It seems, well, provincial. Harvard is Harvard, Yale is Yale, Penn is Penn, and even Cornell is Cornell. What it should say: “Dartmouth College – Welcome”.
  • Use of PNG images – Wow, they really are serious about requiring modern browsers. This will not work in Netscape 4. But, it’s gratuitous–what do you get above using a GIF that justifies this added incompatbility. And why is this an image anyway? Why not put a link in 9-point (but relative) type below the image, right-aligned?
  • And why doesn’t the image change on reload, like it did on the old (going back 2 generations) homepage? Maybe it does but my browser is caching the stylesheet. Quick fix: put that stylesheet declaration inline so that it can be done dynamically when the page is generated. Dynamic stylesheets are generally a bad idea.
  • Re the “Who Are You?” dropdown – Well, who are you?, and what’s with the question, bub? “I am a…,” which is still not great, would be better.
  • “Top of page” link — kill this on the homepage.
  • Major complaint: No dynamic content. Where does news plug in? There’s nothing fresh here to tell me what’s going on on campus today, what happened yesterday, what research is hot, etc.
  • Major complaint: low density and flexibility. I like the design (it’s a great improvement over the overly bland homepage of today), but the information density is much lower, making it less flexible. I’m not sure where to put news content or recent events. There really isn’t anywhere. Keep the template, but redo the homepage. And do all these directory–>subdirectory links need to be on the homepage? It may be helpful for the first-time visitor, but…
  • Final complaint: Webblitz?! Students already know not to use it, alumni will love its sloth and data-destroying capabilities, and it’s a great site for prospective students, parents, and other visitors who cannot access it at all. Great choice!

Bottom line: the broad information design is a great improvement. It makes a lot more sense and is more visually pleasing. The specifics, at least on the home page, need a lot of work.