Jared Spool’s excellent keynote address this past week at the 2008 Higher Ed Web Symposium @ UPenn was the perfect mix of humor and invaluable information. First, He really dug at us (Higher Eds) hard when he noted the overuse of the ‘girls under trees’ photocliche on many University homepages. As a female myself, I had no idea we had such a penchant for sitting on green lawns under trees. Not that many dudes sitting under trees – but lots of girls.
He stressed the importance of quick 5-second tests on main landing pages. He specifically mentioned avoiding testing the home page, as that page typically has a number of different audiences. Additionally, with google searches, not everyone will land on your home page. It is critical, then, to get your message loud and clear on your secondary landing pages – the 5 second rule needs to always apply (a user has to see what you have to say in about 5 seconds upon landing). For example, the main Admissions page, has some clear goals associated with it. With a 5-second glance, are users getting your/our message?
Finally, he stressed that Methodology and Process are not the best way to approach solutions to problems and workflow. In fact, the use of these seems to stunt creativity and hinder progress. He stated that based on results from a number of studies, it was apparent that the use of Tricks and Techniques by teammembers was a faster , more efficient way of accomplishing goals.