Texas State’s website needs improvement

Opinions Columnists | Journalism Senior

Texas State should revamp its website to make it more user-friendly and easier to navigate.

Texas State’s home page is relatively simple to browse, but once the initial thicket of information is penetrated, it is easy for users to get lost. Once, as I browsed undergraduate catalogs for different majors, I encountered a “404-Page Missing” error when I clicked on the international studies link. An entire page on one of the university’s departments was missing—no wonder international studies is not a popular major.

Fortunately, the webpages of many of the other departments are relatively easy to access, but navigating through the university’s site can still be tricky and confusing. A wealth of data is available to students on the Texas State website, but some important information is hidden under links with not-so-obvious titles. Much of the financial statistics for different departments are difficult to find. Once found, the layout of figures looks like it was cobbled together on Excel by an amateur. With all of the graphic design and web-coding students out there, putting together a team to restructure the site should be easy.

Texas State web developers should not only be able to present online information efficiently and professionally, but they should be able to give the website some style. There is surely a way to make gold look appealing rather than appalling on a computer screen. To some, the current website may have a rustic, distinctly Texan charm, but compared to the sleek and colorful design of University of Texas-Austin’s layout, it is cringe-worthy.

Information on the website needs to be easily accessible and concise. It should be easy for browsers to locate specific material without sifting through pages of spreadsheets. This is especially important for new students. As a first-generation college student, I was largely on my own when trying to piece together all of the facts on the website when I was applying to Texas State. My mother and I squinted at the computer screen in confusion together during the application process, cursing in unison at the website’s lack of organization. All we wanted was easy-to-find, clear information to compare Texas State with other potential colleges. This should be a priority for Texas State officials.

Some parts of the website are more functional than others. It is true the new student self-service system is slightly more efficient than the old structure. However, the front page of the website lists multiple links that all lead to the same self-service login that requires its own separate navigation from there. This is totally inefficient. It appears straight-forward at first glance, but after using the system for a while, I have realized how backwards it is. The university should cut out the middleman and provide a direct link to the self-service login on the homepage—minus the extra stuff.

In addition, links to maps of the campus should include integration with Google Maps or something similar. Fusing parking maps with actual GPS instruction would make it easier for commuters and visitors to find their way. With all the university’s emphasis on “traffic flow,” it certainly makes sense to provide step-by-step instructions to parking lots, so people are not driving around in a state of confusion.

Texas State’s budget may not match UT’s, but the university should be able to present information clearly and concisely online without making users jump through unnecessary hoops.