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More tough decisions

In light of my last post about the purpose of a university website, is the most-used link on your home page important just because it is popular, or should it be removed if it really doesn’t (under our new model of the site’s purpose) belong there?

On the Texas A&M home page, the most popular link, by far, is  the link to student email.  Thousands of people per day type “www.tamu.edu” and then click the link rather than simply typing “email.tamu.edu” and going there directly.  If the university web site is truly to be centered on an external audience, though, this link really should be removed.  It belongs on a campus intranet, or the Howdy! portal, or perhaps in a list of student services – but it does not need to be a prominent feature on the home page.  So if we are serious about reshaping the purpose of the university website we need to remove it in our next maintenance release, knowing and accepting that there will be a huge backlash and cry to add it back on.

The key, then, is how to handle that backlash.  The problem is that the pressure to put it back won’t come just from students, but also from administrators who honestly think they are acting in the student’s interests, but who do not understand the reasoning for why we made the change.  Paradigm shifts are hard to explain, and harder to understand.  Our best chance is to start releasing bits and pieces of or plans well ahead of time, giving everyone time to digest it so that when the change comes it won’t be such a surprise.

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Friday, December 18th, 2009 www.tamu.edu 3 Comments

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