Before I go into the details I must point out that these are theoretical concepts that are mainly for the purposes of having a train of thought to help you out in the time of need when there is a problem or you need to come up with a new idea.
These conceptual elements of a website can help you in a jam when it comes to any related project area. All you need to do is benchmark other companies or campaigns and isolate the area of interest then put it up against others to see how it was executed technically and conceptually cross industry.
Let’s look at a few to understand this concept better.
Baruch vs Columbia vs Harvard in the area of Content, Connection and Communication the Context is an academic site’s method of attraction.
Baruch’s site is dark and royal blue giving a feeling of enclosure and exclusivity. Columbia’s site gives the feeling of being wide open and inviting with its white background and text ground. Harvard’s site gives speaks with an essence of ancientness and old richness. Each site’s visual feeling will connect and communicate a different message to each person based on who they are trying to attract.
Even though Baruch is a CUNY college it still maintains a high reputation within the business hiring community. It is the College of NYC professional students. On campus 50% of students where a suit or some form of business attire which creates the same separation from the status quo as the website does. The site says “We are for a certain breed of student…” and with a small menu bar it says “…one who knows what they are looking for and how to find it” because nothing on the site is easy to find. This is not because it is difficult or not there it is highly engaged visitors do not need flashy graphics to point them in the direction they need to go in. Invested visitors will read and be persistent until they get what they need or want. That is the student breed Baruch is looking for to boost its name with successful, persistent Business leaders.
Columbia’s site is more inviting to the greater public; they want you to know about them regardless of who you are. They are a balanced campus that wants to attract much of the outside world. It seems as though they want anyone and everyone to come take a look. That is good for their brand recognition. The image on the site is always compelling and update, which differs from the same old none engaging images on the Baruch site that have been there forever it seems.
Harvard’s site reflects an almost antique feeling like a well aged piece of paper. The grayed mustard and red color palette reflects the fact that that they have been around a long time. The buttons are large and very noticeable.
As a matter of fact viewing the Harvard site has brought to my attention the concept of there being such thing as “Eye level” on a computer screen. That eye level point is in between the top and middle points of the page. This brings the navigation bar down but, it is the first thing you notice along with the oversize crest. The same for Columbia but their image is the first thing noticed and it is compelling enough to make you look around to find out what going on in the image.
The navigation bar on the Harvard site is the first thing you notice unlike the Baruch site that has its bar way way at the top which draws you right to the image and articles below it and not to the actual bars. This works for Harvard to get viewers to another page. For Baruch it draws you into its stories. This is interesting although the Baruch site does reflect the manner of person that they want, someone who is persistent and is going to take the time to look for what they want; it also is very good in terms of training behavior. What they want you to do is read the stories. What they want you to do is learn about what they are trying to expose you to about the school which is in those three columns of stories that they have. These stories are the first to be notice after the image on the site which is very prominent. Then they bring you to the other information which is way way at the top. So you’ll scroll down on the site looking for the links and you’ll notice that you’ve read all the content and haven’t found what you’re looking for. Then you scroll back to the top and see the navigation bar because you are now looking intently and not being drawn in. I would say this is a great opportunity to add another bar at the bottom.
The Harvard site could use some better content structuring there is no CSS and words on the home page just see to drift with the images not an engaging structure.
The Columbia site may be inviting however it is distracting from any goal a viewer may have. Both Harvard and Columbia have a search the site bar on goggle which could be a cool thing however they cannot control what the viewer sees. Baruch does not have this feature this one can come in through any back doors. Thus Baruch has better control of viewer behavior.
Baruch communicates its mission the best. It does take a long for it to be updated, but it is engaging especially for the target viewer who, is less likely to get distracted by anything else before reading or skimming some of the articles. The Baruch site could have used some better ordering of priorities on the Current student page and has rectified that issue.