UVA Website – Some Hits and Some Misses

My youngest daughter is a high school junior, so our family is back into the college search process. This past weekend, we decided to visit UVA. Before we left my husband asked me to print a college map. Before I knew it, I was deep into an unplanned website critique…

My first impression of the site was very positive. It loads quickly and has a clean appearance.

I was after a map. The first item in the main navigation is “Welcome Center.” One of the many items under that tab is “Maps & Directions.” So far, so good.

My first issue is that it took me three tries to keep this navigation open and slide over three columns so I could click on “Maps & Directions.” Nothing makes me feel older than not being able to make a cursor go where I want.

When I finally mustered up the dexterity to select the option, I hit barrier #2. I could not find a printable map. There were several very neat on-line interactive maps. But I wanted a good old-fashioned printed map so we’d know where to walk once we parked at the campus visitor lot.

Not finding the map, I decided to look for a site index. Much to my surprise, the “A-Z Index” in what appears to be utility navigation in the upper right is actually an index of the university’s websites. I scanned the rest of the home page and could not find a site index. I was frustrated!

Next step was the search. Interestingly, the default search is “people” rather than the website. Once I figured that out, I searched the site on the word “map.” Eureka – a PDF campus map came up in the results…but for the wrong campus. At that point I gave up.

Going back to the site later to write this, I now see a A-Z Website Index within the content area of the home page. But, alas, still no PDF of the lovely campus to be found.

So, UVA, my uninvited assessment is that you have a terrific website with some great features. You also have some usability issues. And, never forget the basics, like a nice printable campus map…