UPJ’s website lacking luster

Trevor Monk, Staff Writer

UPJ’s website may not reflect its image as the largest University of Pittsburgh branch campus and its listing as a “Best College in the Northeastern Region” by The Princeton Review.

Before many college- bound students have a chance to visit a school that sparks their interest, they may look at the school’s Web page.

Most universities, including UPJ, allow potential students to apply for admission online.

Joseph Jeffery Sernell, Information Technology Associate Vice President, said the website is a primary recruiting tool for the university as well as a source of information for current students.

Freshman David Veronesi said when it came time to choose between attending UPJ or Penn State -Altoona, he constantly weighed the pros and cons of both campuses.

“Of course I checked them out online before I had a chance to take a tour of either campus.”

Veronesi said UPJ’s website had most of the content he was looking for, but was visually drab compared with Penn State-Altoona’s website.

SlimGenics art director and graphic designer Anne Coldren, said she had a few suggestions for updating UPJ’s website.

Coldren said the narrow width of the site gives users the impression it is outdated.

Newer sites are designed with at least a 1024 pixel-wide view, providing graphics to at least 980 pixels wide.

UPJ’s site is more in the 670-pixel range.

Sernell said the website was designed to optimize the visual display for all Web browsers, mobile browsers and operating systems.

With various web browsers to choose from, including Firefox, Safari and Google Chrome, each browser would provide a slightly different display of the website.

Sernell said Internet Explorer will give viewers the best display with UPJ’s website.

Coldren said the home page display probably is better on a PC using Explorer. On a Mac using Firefox or Google Chrome, the homepage does have overlapping features, like the search and feature navigation.

As for outdated or missing information on the site, Sernell said the IT Department does not update content.

The website uses a content management system that gives departments, divisions offices and every support office – totaling over 100 people, the ability to update information pertaining to individual departments.

This allows teachers, faculty and staff to choose where the information goes in the sub divisions found at the top of the website.

Coldren said if the home page alone was redesigned to provide better organized information and the entire site width was increased by 300 pixels, it would be a great improvement in the design.

It would allow the primary content appear to grow and keep all other elements in place, and help users navigate the site with even greater ease.