Page 1

International Indexed & Refereed Research Journal, ISSN 0975-3486, (Print) E-ISSN-2320-5482, July,2013 VOL-IV *ISSUE- 46

Research Paper—Marketing Management & Production Management

To Study and Analysis of The Content and Characteristics of University Websites With Implications For Web Designers and Educators. July ,2013

* Mr. Vishal Waman Wagh

* Aissms Iom, Kennedy Road, Near R.T.O., PuneA B S T R A C T The development of customer-centered websites is a difficult but essential component of many organizations' overall management information systems. Specifically, the study examined the content and characteristics of the web home pages and admissions-related web pages of a sample of institutions listed in the U.S. News & World Report List of Best Colleges & Universities to help web developers create customer-centric sites and to help web design educators teach students to create such sites. Overall, the content of the text and the images was user-centered. Three design principles were followed on over 90% of the websites: consistency of font styles as well as text and background colors, fast loading time, and hyperlinks placed in the two places users view first. Accessibility by the visually impaired may be difficult as numerous websites used images and bullets as hyperlinks and did not have high contrast between text and background colors. Keywords: websites, content analysis, web design, user-interface

Introduction:Website development has evolved over me years, from an emphasis on me technical aspects of website creation in me early days of the World Wide Web when organizations merely had a presence on die Web to a more product-oriented emphasis a few years ago and now to customer-centered websites. However, the creation of customer-centric websites is difficult given increased competition among organizations, technological changes, die current economic conditions, and cultural changes in the U.S. University websites have developed almost as rapidly as corporate websites. While websites can provide many benefits, a number of challenges also arise. Like corporate websites, campus websites attract a variety of internal and external audiences/customers. The focus of this research study is on university websites because they exemplify ones mat must meet die needs of a wide-ranging audience. University websites must provide vital information for on-campus and off campus users including students, prospective students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and many others. Review of Literature:The relationship between an organization's website and me marketing of an organization can be an interesting one. One might presume mat organizations actively using websites to reach their target audiences would experience positive results. However, a study of universities showed mat those institutions win lower levels of excellent students and lower levels of alumni gift giving were more likely to use die Web to reach prospective students and parents than those win better students and higher donation levels. That study concluded that schools behind in school excellence

use die Web as an important public relations tool to overcome their inferiority to superior schools. Additionally, schools with low freshman student retention rates had the most intrusive ads on their websites and had die most downloadable graphics. Today, nearly all medium to large businesses and most universities have websites, with some being more effective than others at meeting the needs of a wide range of users. McAllister & Taylor's content analysis of community college websites identified four main target audiences: (1) students/prospective students; (2) employees/prospective employees; (3) external stakeholders; and (4) the media. They found that to meet the needs of students/prospective students, almost 90% of the community college websites offered downloadable forms; 65% offered click and submit forms; 58%, online registration and course searches; 47%, online applications; 37%, virtual tours; and 21%, an electronic version of the catalog. For prospective employees and current employees' usage, 90% of the sites offered job opportunities, 79%, a separate human resources section, and 74%, college policies. Research Design:From the entire population of 500 colleges and universities listed in the 2005 U.S. News & World Report List of Best Colleges & Universities, a stratified random sample of 100 colleges and universities was selected from the groups listed in the report. The three groups and the size of the stratified samples are shown in Table 1.Institutions listed in each of the categories - national universities, liberal arts colleges, and master's universities - were assigned numbers and the stratified sample was selected by choosing every 5th numbered institution, resulting in a list of 100 colleges and universities whose websites were analyzed.



International Indexed & Refereed Research Journal, ISSN 0975-3486, (Print) E-ISSN-2320-5482, July,2013 VOL-IV *ISSUE- 46

One author conducted the actual analyses of me 100 websites using the same computer to assure consistency of website loading times, the appearance of scroll bars, and other website characteristics. Website characteristics analyzed were based on commonly-accepted website design principles, as described in me literature review, related to the following: consistency of text and background colors, consistency of font styles, short loading times, menu locations, scroll bars, text and background contrast, and use of hyperlinks. Table:-1 Best College and University Websites Analyzed Types of Websites No. Sampled Total National University Websites 25* 125 Liberal arts college Websites 21* 105 Master's University Websites 54* 270 Total 100 500 NOTE: - * Represents 20% of the population

Observations & Findings:The findings are based on the content and characteristics of the 100 college and university web home pages and admissions-related hyperlinked pages analyzed for this study. The content analysis of me home pages used in this study showed wide variance Table:-2 Most-Used Hyperlinks (Menu Items) by Rank and Percentage* Rank Co n t e n t Percentages 1 Alumni 98 2 Admissions 82 3 Athletics 80 4 Academics 79 5 About the University 74 6 Current Students 73 7 Other 71 8 Events/Calendar 70 9 Faculty/Staff 67 10 Libraries 64 11 Prospective Students 61 12 News 60 13 Parent and Families 59 14 Donors 53 15 Directory 50 NOTE: - n = 100

All 100 home pages used hyperlinks to help users locate information quickly. The 15 most-used hyperlinked menu items on me web home pages are listed in Table 2. Table:-3 Names of Home Page Hypertext Links for Prospective Students Home Page Hypertext Links Admissions 82% Other 10% Prospective Students 8% Secondary Links from Above-Named Links Graduate 63% Under-Graduate 50% International 34% Transfer 31% Other choices 25% Freshman 20% NOTE: - n = 100


As shown in Table 3, die most frequently-mentioned links were Graduate, Undergraduate, International, and Transfer students. The "Omer" category included choices such as Evening, MBA, Professional, High School, and Continuing Education. Table:-4 Usage of Inappropriate Hyperlinks on Home Pa ge s* Characteristics Percent Graphic Images used as hyperlinks 74% Hyperlinks in color other than the default blue color 67% No clear link back to home page from Linked pages 50% Bullets used as hyperlinks 23%

Hyperlinked words or images should be clear and obvious, allowing a user to navigate a website quickly and easily. The analysis of me 100 web pages showed an average of 41 links per home page. Table 4 presents the percent of websites analyzed did not follow design principles related to effective hyperlink creation. Although graphic images are not considered obvious links on a web page, nearly three/fourths of me websites used them as links. Likewise, bullets are not recommended as links because may are not obvious to many users, but almost one/fourth of die home pages used them. The default color and commonly recognized color for linked text is blue. However, blue text was used for links by only about one- third of the websites. Conclusions and Suggestions:Nearly all me 100 college and university websites analyzed in this study show they are designed to be customer/audience centered by exhibiting four design principles data lead to aesmetically-pleasing, comfortable websites. Over 90% of the websites analyzed complied with the following commonly accepted website design characteristics: (1) consistent use of me same text and background colors on both home and linked pages, (2) consistent use of font styles, (3) web page loading time within 10 seconds, and (4) and placement of hyperlinks (menus) across the top of the screen or in a column down the left side of me screen. It is recommended those four web design principles continue to be used by website designers and by web design educa tors. Users, and especially the visually impaired, may find it difficult to navigate many of the websites analyzed since many of the links were not obvious. Several design principles related to hyperlinks were violated on me websites:


International Indexed & Refereed Research Journal, ISSN 0975-3486, (Print) E-ISSN-2320-5482, July,2013 VOL-IV *ISSUE- 46

(1) (2)

using photos as hyperlinks (74%), using colors other than me default blue color for linked text (67%), (3) having an easy memod to get back to the home page from linked pages (50%), and (4) using bullets as links (23%). It is recommended data individuals in the computer information systems field,

including web design educators, review federal law governing accessibility of websites for the disabled with particular attention to the types of hyperlinks used. Web developers should check their websites and remove images and bullets data are hyperlinks since many people will overlook those types of links.

R E F E R E N C E 1 ) A Designer. (2004, July 7). a Designer. Retrieved on October 15, 2007 from a designer 2 ) Davis, J. & Merritt, S. (1998). The Web design wow! book. In L. Dayton (Ed.), Five Design Reminders (p. 57). Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press. 3 ) Esrock, S., & Liechty, G. (2000). Organization of corporate web pages: Publics and functions. Public Relations Review, 26(3), 327-344. 4 ) Goldsborough, R. (2007). Beefing Up the Content of Your Website. Office Solutions, 24(4).



45 47