The impressive redesign of the Web site has raised the bar for the University’s online ambitions. Still, one aspect of UR’s online presence lags behind many academic departments’ Web pages lack coherence and an aesthetic design.

Rochester Business Journal recently took note of the artistic new homepage, launched in September 2008, in its ‘Best of the Web” awards for the education category. The College also gave equal attention to the Financial Aid Web page, a newly accessible tool for prospective and current students alike.

Beyond the main University pages, though, the site loses its clear purpose and sophisticated design. One judge of the ‘Best of the Web” awards even commented on the varied sophistication in several of UR’s interior Web pages, while applauding the homepage. The most obvious example of this disparity exists in the academic departments’ sites, where each department is responsible for its homepage. This decentralized approach allows for many disorganized, inconsistent and often disappointing sites. Some academic departments use this freedom to foster new levels of creativity, such as the English department’s revamped homepage. These sites should reflect the diversity and originality inherent in UR’s academic offerings. The failure of some departments to create a state-of-the-art site should not go unnoticed in the Office of Communications’ commendable transformation of the homepage. Communications can redress this inconsistency by working with departments to achieve at least a minimum set of criteria that is consistent with the caliber of UR’s image.

In a school whose curriculum particularly encourages the exploration of diverse disciplines, it is frustrating to find discrepancies in the presentation of academic information available online. All University Web pages should require the same level of professionalism the home page projects to its 28,000 daily visitors an image it should present to the world even after first glance.

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