As you begin your week, I was hoping that I might impose upon you for some suggestions or examples from your neck of the woods.
Working with my talented and forward-thinking university Web Services colleague, Damond Nollan, I have the opportunity to craft from scratch a website for an academic department.
I’ve found many examples of good, individual laboratory websites and The Scientist even ran a contest two years ago for such sites.
However, I’ve not seen much attention on what makes a good academic department website, what people want to see in a departmental website, or good examples of such.
I like to see current information on what is going on in the department, general news, seminar programs, recent accomplishments, outreach activities, student and postdoc pages. But I’d also like to know of any sites that might have a chair’s blog, a newsfeed of topical stories in the field, links to social media, engagement of alumni and alumni accomplishments, and other attributes that don’t allow cobwebs to accumulate.
In fact, Jeffrey McClurken at The Chronicle’s ProfHacker blog recently spoke of creating an alternative departmental website that employs many of the dynamic aspects of the blog.
(P.S. You really should be reading ProfHacker if you aren’t – what a fantastic resource written by some of the best-wired profs around the US)
Of course, McClurken notes that some institutions are restrictive on design, graphics, and hosting for any site not under the purview of the university IT department. But his example of the site for the Department of History and American Studies at Mary Washington University is a good example of a site that is regularly updated and has the capacity for easy-updating by people who don’t know how to write code.
So, if you care to blow off a few minutes of your Monday, do you have any ideas on
1) what you look for on a departmental web
2) any good examples thereof
3) any caveats or cautions I have not mentioned?
Keep in mind that this is not limited to the biomedical sciences – I’m looking for common threads to department websites that are most useful for faculty, students, alumni, and staff, as well as prospective students, postdocs, faculty, and staff.