Does it ever feel like searching for the page you want on a university website is like trying to swim through quicksand?
University websites are notorious black holes of information—so densely packed they just suck you in. It’s not necessarily the fault of poor web design (although for some university websites you wonder), It’s primarily the challenge of organizing a wealth of information in a manner most students will find accessible, most of the time.
Athabasca University’s website is easier to navigate than many other university sites. Although I’d like give 100% of the credit to superior web design, there’s another element at play here: AU’s website isn’t as densely packed as others.
With AU’s activities being primarily online, there are whole categories of information not needed for the AU website. No web-pages for student housing or food services, no maps for public transit or parking, no information on athletic facilities or the bookstore.
However, even with the reduced-density AU website, it can still be difficult for students to find exactly what they need, when they need it. The new website design does make navigating easier, but sometimes you’d like to get to the page you want without feeling like You’re falling down a rabbit hole.
AUSU recently added an “AU Quick Links” page to their website to help students get to the AU information they want with fewer clicks. You can find the Quick Links page under Services on the AUSU website, or click here.
The AU Quick Links page currently lists links to approximately sixty AU webpages. The links are organized into six categories: AU Primary Web and Social Media Sites;
AU Faculties; AU Services; AU Exams and Exam Resources; AU Registration, Programs, and Related Resources; and Other Common AU Resources, Info, and Links.
Donette Kingyens, AUSU’s Communications and Member Services Coordinator, says the goal was to find an “easy way for members to find services and departments at AU, and quickly find the procedures and tips for common processes such as exam requests, course extensions, and graduation. We know that some of these services and processes are difficult to find on the AU website.”
Kingyens combed through the AU website to find the webpages most relevant to undergraduate students. “I also took leads from the most frequently asked questions that I have seen come in directly to AUSU, posted in the AU Facebook Forum, or mentioned in recent surveys,” explains Kingyens, “and then tried to compile them in a format that would make them easy to navigate on our website.”
The coordinators of the unofficial Athabasca University Facebook group page will be relieved to know the Quick Links page lists the two links most requested by members of that group: “Service Standards and Response Times” and “Course Coordinator Contact Info”; both can be found under the Other Common AU Resources, Info, and Links category. Two other AU pages frequented by students, “Awards” and the “Write Site” are among the links listed under AU Services.
AUSU’s new AU Quick Links page makes it easier for students to find AU information quickly. Check out Quick Links at https://www.ausu.org/services/student-resources/au-quick-links/.
Have a suggestion for a link to add? Contact Donette Kingyens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-855-497-7003, ext 202.
Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario. Follow Barbara on twitter @ThereGoesBarb.