By Dorian Rangel
East Los Angeles College’s school website is an old convoluted mess and is in dire need of a redesign.
The website has all the information that a college website should have. The problem is how that information is displayed and how users can access it.
The graphics on the site are one of the biggest problems and it needs a redesign. While the graphics on the site are not bad, they are however outdated.
ELAC’s site would benefit from modern graphics. For example, there should be flat boxes and rectangles with clean edges. The purpose of a websites graphical layout is to blend into the background and enhance, not obstruct the information being displayed.
The photo gallery positioned in the center of the site is an issue. On three of its sides it is a box with corners, but on its right side it is rounded with its border starting at the bottom as a thin solid color.
It then fans wider at the top out into two other colors. The way that it looks draws the user away from the information being displayed.
Another graphic that needs to be changed is the top banner, which starts on the left with the name of the college and transitions into three photos of groups of students and ends on the right with some quick links to the most commonly used services.
The first problem with the banner is that the majority of the school’s name is in a small font. The name of the school should use the biggest font on the page, because it lets students and visitors to the site know that they are in the right place.
Another issue is the partial sun graphic that borders the name of the school. The school crest or mascot should take its place.
The second problem with the banner is the pictures that take up the majority of the banners space. These pictures do not specifically represent ELAC.
They are photos of college students and although ELAC is a college, those same photos can be placed on any other college site and people would think they are students from that college.
The biggest issue that needs to be redesigned on ELAC’s website is how we use it.
Good website design is not just about how the site looks, but also more importantly how it functions and how the user interacts with it.
When it comes to how the user interacts meaning navigates through the website to get information, simpler is always better. If it is not, the user becomes frustrated and angry.
Navigation of ELAC’s website is not simple and is confusing instead. It is covered with dozens of links and menus, which feels a bit overwhelming.
There are several navigational issues. For example, when you put the cursor over the Students tab on the homepage, it reveals a drop down menu that says student services.
When you put the cursor over to Student Services, it reveals another drop down menu with a list of links.
In that list there is another link that says Student Services, which links to a page with several other links not listed in the Student Services drop down menu. This navigation is extremely repetitive.
Another navigational issue ELAC students are familiar with is logging into Etudes from the homepage.
When you click on the Etudes link, it takes you to the Distance Education homepage with a link to the Etudes Course Login.
This link however takes you to yet another page with a link that will finally take you to the Etudes login page.
The other portal links on the homepage require fewer steps and does not link to additional pages.
When you click the Moodle link it takes you directly to Moodle’s login page.
When you click the Academic Computing Environment link, it takes you to another page with two login options one for faculty and one for students.
A bad design is the reason why logging into Etudes takes so many steps and why navigating the large amount of information on the site is difficult.
It is also the reason why the Website is unattractive.
ELAC’s website was last updated on Nov. 27, 2011. This gives some evidence as to how time and effort is spent on the site.