The End User

by Kristen Abell

Recently I changed jobs to work with websites and online presence for student affairs at my university. In my brief time in this position, I have already learned A LOT – and I’m still learning new things daily. But one thing that I’ve learned has me, well, not completely surprised, but definitely frustrated.

Student affairs has forgotten for whom they create their websites. (Okay, to be fair, not just student affairs, but this is a student affairs blog, so I’m focusing on that).

As we’ve met with various clients and website managers, I hear many of the same things: “We think this would be really cool.” “Can we add a slideshow? We want to make it look like that website.” “We want the latest look on our website.” We, we, we – well, you get the point.

In all the meetings that I’ve had with folks, I almost never hear anything about the end user – the students. How would a student use your website? Why are they coming to your site? What do they need to get from your site? None of that is even considered a majority of the time.

Have we forgotten that students are our audience, our clients, our reason for being here? Every time I have to remind someone about that (and then continue to be ignored), I have to believe that to a certain extent we have. Or maybe it’s just when it comes to tech. Every time I see a new social media account pop up when the user clearly hasn’t learned how to best engage students through the other three accounts they have, I start to think that when it comes to technology, we just want the latest thing, students be damned.

What do you think? Has technology blinded us to how to best serve students online? Are we so intent on having the newest, the best, the coolest that we’ve forgotten that students just want the easiest way to find and use our services? Have you noticed this at your institution?

The End User

2 thoughts on “The End User

  1. Kristen, I’m not sure if Student Affairs (the profession), has ever really been that good at creating student-oriented websites. It’s not part of our wheelhouse. We value face-to-face so much that most SA sites still look like something from 1997. That’s why I often try to highlight the “good ones” on my IHE blog. However, those sites are rare. I’m so stoked that you’re pushing things forward at your school as well as at the profession level. Cheers!

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    1. Eric – thanks for your comment. I think for me the struggle comes from the fact that always, the student should be our focus – why does technology distract us so? I hope that as we continue to educate colleagues about technology, this comes to be less of an issue.
      Please keep sharing those sites!

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