hodgsonConsulting Newsletter September 2016
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September 14, 2016
September 2016 Newsletter

Higher-Ed Website Wishlist
It’s back-to-school time, and that means university websites are being flooded with excited students and anxious parents eager for information.

Recently, my son – a freshman in college – was searching his school’s website. He wanted to find his schedule, a campus map, and information on financial aid. He was navigating among five separate sites, each containing a single piece of information he needed. Like a little bird building a nest, he had to gather all the bits together to come up with solid answers.

For me, that’s a litmus test. If my son can’t find what he’s looking for in three clicks or less – if the website is organized like an academic hierarchy and written like a textbook – it’s not reflecting particularly well on the school and how it’s faring in the Information Age.

You know what else I’d like to see in a college website?

I’d like them to know I’m a parent. I don’t care so much about when the next pep rally is, but I sure do want to see an exam calendar. My son, on the other hand, really wants to know the date of the next pep rally, and will avoid the exam schedule like the plague. Can’t the schools let me select my “mom” label and give me the content I value? And let him select his “so glad to be out of the house” label and show him what he wants to see?

There’s a great tool I saw on the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown website. It’s an “I Am” button, which lets site visitors choose who they want to be that day. Parents are shown the information critical to them, and students get to see what they really care about. Or check out Front Range Community College; that site lets me choose which campus I’m interested in. That’s a huge time saver! Websites that seem to speak to me personally are the ones I go back to, time and time again.

What are you Waiting for? It's Time to go Mobile!
Our local high school’s website isn’t responsive. If I want to see a whole page, I have to move the image around until I’ve seen all quadrants, which I then mentally assemble. The school’s solution is to ask parents to download a completely separate app, which “contains all of the information on the website.”

That’s not very 2016.

It would be more efficient to make that website responsive, so it is easily viewed on any phone or tablet. The school wouldn’t have to constantly update a site AND an app, so there would never be the disconnect that appears between the two.

While viewing websites on the desktop monitor isn’t a thing of the past, mobile devices are increasingly the source of a ton of web traffic. If your website isn’t responsive, at best you’re likely frustrating scores of site visitors. At worst, you’re losing people viewing your website on a mobile device, though it was designed for a desktop monitor.

If you look around, it’s easier than ever to create a responsive site. Every site Hodgson designs and develops is responsive; pretty soon, you won’t be able to play in the same arena as your competitors if your site isn't.

Why? Your content is so much more accessible if visitors can see it anywhere. Between tablets and phones, we’re not relying on “getting home and in front of the computer” to view content anymore. Responsive sites render content eminently shareable, help with SEO, and greatly enhance the user experience.

If getting responsive is something you’ve been meaning to do, send us an email. We promise: it won’t hurt a bit.

And Finally, iPhone Drama
This morning, I went for a run. As I always do, I carried my iPhone 6 and snaked headphones through my shirt and into my ears so I could blast Bruce (don’t judge; I’m an 80s kid). And as I did so, I considered the shocking news that Apple has removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7.

Really? Can it be?

The new phone still ships with EarPods, but they’re wireless (they have a Lightning connector on the end). You can also buy super-cool Bluetooth headphones, called AirPods. People are squawking all over the internet about the end of an era, and wondering what they’ll do with those ubiquitous white earbuds in every drawer. (And grumbling about the Apple monopoly, albeit as they try to hide all their i-devices.)

We’re a tech company, so we love the lighter/faster/better/newer model. Apple says this move took courage, and they’re right. We’re waiting to see if frustrated customers ditch Apple, or if this revolutionary move creates a tech groundswell. Personally, I want to place bets on how many wireless headphones will be lost once they’re not connected to anything. You’ll no longer be reaching under the couch cushions to find change, you’ll be searching for your AirPods!

Copyright © 2016 hodgsonConsulting, All rights reserved.

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