Competitive Analysis of Five University Hub Websites
By Matt Soave, Ross Campbell, and Kyle Frost

This page outlines the competitive analysis we conducted in coming up with the navigational elements for our information architecture redesign, found at: mattsoave.com/cogs187a/ia_redo

« Back to project home


Overall Navigation

Top Navigation Items/Links

We decided to look at more than five university hub websites (we looked at 10, including Indiana University) to get a better idea of the types of navigations that university sites find important. After this, we chose the five university sites that we liked the best to further shape our redesign. The table below shows the main elements that each of several universities includes in their top navigation.

University of CaliforniaUniversity of North CarolinaUniversity of MinnesotaMinnesota StateUniversity of NebraskaIndiana UniversityUniversity of IllinoisUniversity of TexasUniversity of HawaiiLouisiana State University
Students and ParentsAbout the UniversityStudentsStudentsHomeProspective StudentsAbout the UniversityHomeAlohaBoard of Supervisors
Faculty and StaffLeadershipVisitors and FamiliesBusiness and IndustryAbout NUAlumni and DonorsCampusesNewsAboutSystem Office
Alumni and FriendsAcademicsAlumni and DonorsNews and MediaInformation ForEconomic DevelopmentTrusteesAbout the UT SystemCampusesInstitutions
Counselors and EducatorsResearchFaculty and StaffSystem EmployeesNews and InformationK-12 EducationPresidentUT System OfficesAdmissionsPolicies
Community and BusinessPublic ServiceJob SeekersAbout the SystemOur CampusesFaculty and StaffAdministrationUT CampusesAcademicsInstitutional Research
About UCInformation For...Board of TrusteesCareer OpportunitiesResearchStudents/Parents
NewsCenters of ExcellenceTechnologyFaculty/Staff
Campuses and LabsChancellor's OfficeLibrariesMedia
Governance and MissionSystem FoundationArts and Community
System Gateway

Narrowed Top Navigation Items/Links

The table below shows the top navigational elements of the five university websites that we liked the best.

University of CaliforniaUniversity of North CarolinaUniversity of MinnesotaMinnesota StateUniversity of Nebraska
Students and ParentsAbout the UniversityStudentsStudentsHome
Faculty and StaffLeadershipVisitors and FamiliesBusiness and IndustryAbout NU
Alumni and FriendsAcademicsAlumni and DonorsNews and MediaInformation For
Counselors and EducatorsResearchFaculty and StaffSystem EmployeesNews and Information
Community and BusinessPublic ServiceJob SeekersAbout the SystemOur Campuses
About UCInformation For...Board of Trustees
NewsCenters of Excellence
Campuses and LabsChancellor's Office
Governance and MissionSystem Foundation
System Gateway

Top Navigation Element Count

The below table shows how many of the five universities have each top level navigation element. Bold items are elements that we chose to include in our design, and italic items are elements that appeared on multiple sites, but were not included in our design; the reason for their exclusion is written below the table.

ElementCount
StudentsXXX
ParentsXX
Faculty/Staff/EmployeesXXX
AlumniXX
FriendsX
DonorsX
CounselorsX
EducatorsX
CommunityX
BusinessXX
Public ServiceX
About [the University]XXXX
Campuses/LocationsXX
Governance/Administration/ChancellorXX
News/MediaXXX
LeadershipX
AcademicsX
ResearchX
Information For...XX
Job SeekersX
VisitorsX
Board of TrusteesX
Centers of ExcellenceX
HomeX
System FoundationX
System GatewayX

Several pages had navigational elements for students, parents, faculty and staff, etc. We initially thought it would be a good idea to have our top navigation items reflect each type of user, much like the University of Minnesota's site. However, there were other important elements, such as "About the University" and "News and Media" that we wanted to include, but we felt that dividing the navigation into both users and topics would be a little more confusing than dividing it into one or the other exclusively. We decided to divide the navigation by topic, since the users could easily still be included in an "Information For..." section. Other sections, like Governance (and other administration information) felt too specific to be included in the top navigation; we felt that something like this could safely be classified under "About the University."


"About the University" Navigation

Links Under "About The University" Pages

After deciding on our top level navigation, we needed to decide what topics to include under each main menu. This table shows the navigational elements we found under each university system's respective "About the University" page.

University of CaliforniaUniversity of North CarolinaUniversity of MinnesotaMinnesota StateUniversity of Nebraska
AdmissionsHistory/MissionAdministrationAccountabilityAdministration
ResearchNews/FeaturesBoard of RegentsBoard of TrusteesBoard of Regents
Academic ProgramsReports/PublicationsEmergency PreparednessCenters of ExcellenceBudget
Libraries/Museums/ArtsFacts and FiguresEmploymentChancellor's InitiativesCampuses
K-12/Academic PreparationSpecial InitiativesEquity and DiversityDirectoriesHistory and Mission
EnvironmentOur 17 InstitutionsOur CampusesGov't RelationsNU Foundation
EconomyAffiliatesPresident's OfficeNews releasesOnline Worldwide
HealthNewsJobs OpportunitiesPresident
CommunityOffice of the ChancellorResearch
Policies and ProceduresStatewide Outreach
PublicationsStrategic Framework
System Campuses
System Foundation

"About The University" Element Count

The below table shows how many of the five universities have each element listed under their "About the University" page. Bold items are elements that we chose to include in our design, and italic items are elements that appeared on multiple sites, but were not included in our design; the reason for their exclusion is written below

ElementCount
Academic ProgramsX
AccountabilityX
AdministrationXXX
AdmissionsX
AffiliatesX
Arts/CultureX
Board of Regents/TrusteesXXX
CampusesXXXX
CommunityXX
DirectoriesX
DiversityX
EconomyX
EmergencyX
EmploymentXX
EnvironmentX
Facts and FiguresX
HealthX
History/MissionXX
InitiativesX
K-12X
LibrariesX
NewsXXX
Research/ReportsXXXX

We chose to exclude only two elements that were present on multiple "About the University" pages. We felt that Employment could be safely included in the "Information For..." section because it applies to a specific type of user. "News" was another common element, but we chose to exlude it because we had already decided that it should have its own top navigation menu. We also decided to include Campuses again, even though it has its own top navigation section, because we felt that this was something that was so important to a university hub website. Additionally, despite only being on one site's "About the University" page, we included Academics; we felt that, while each university has its own academics page, the university as a whole should have a summary of its academic accomplishments as well.


Final "About the University" Selection

About the University
Academics
Administration
Board of Trustees
Campuses
Community Outreach
Facts and Figures
History and Mission
Research and Publications

"Our Campuses" Navigation

Final "Our Campuses" Selection

Since Indiana University has eight distinct campuses, it was easy for us to decide on the list items for the "Our Campuses" navigation.

Campuses
Bloomington
East
Fort Wayne
Indianapolis
Kokomo
Northwest
South Bend
Southeast

"Information For..." Navigation

Links Under "Information For..." Pages

This table shows the navigational elements we found under each university system's respective "Information For..." page. In other words, these represent the users that each university deemed important.

U CaliforniaU North CarolinaU MinnesotaMinnesota StateU Nebraska
Students and ParentsStudentsStudentsStudentsBusiness and Community
Faculty and StaffFaculty and StaffVisitors and FamiliesBusiness and IndustryCurrent and Prospective Students
Alumni and FriendsAlumni, Friends, and SupportersAlumni and DonorsNews and MediaFaculty and Staff
Counselors and EducatorsEconomic DevelopersFaculty and StaffSystem EmployeesProspective Employees
Community and BusinessMediaJob SeekersVisitors
Military PersonnelWork-Life Balance
K-12 School Teachers
Design and Construction
Elected Officials

"Information For..." Element Count

The below table shows how many of the five universities have each element listed under their "Information For..." page. Bold items are elements that we chose to include in our design, and italic items are elements that appeared on multiple sites, but were not included in our design; the reason for their exclusion is written below

ElementCount
StudentsXXXXX
Parents/FamiliesXX
Faculty and StaffXXXXX
AlumniXXX
FriendsXXX
CounselorsX
EducatorsXX
CommunityXX
BusinessXXXX
SupportersX
MediaXX
MilitaryX
Design and ConstructionX
Elected OfficialsX
VisitorsXX
Prospective EmployeesXX

We chose to exclude three elements that were present on multiple "Information For..." pages. As far as Community, we already had Community Outreach under the "About the University" section, which we felt applied more to information about the university than to specific users. Additionally, we felt that Media could safely be omitted since any information would be listed under "News and Headlines."


Final "Information For..." Selection

Information For...
Prospective Students
Current Students
Parents, Families, and Visitors
Faculty and Staff
Alumni and Friends
Business and Industry
Prospective Employees

"News and Headlines" Navigation

Final "News and Headlines" Selection

As far as we could tell, the five universities we looked at didn't have well-organized or divided news pages, so we couldn't really do a comparison. We found that the existing Indiana University webpage was already very well-organized and had a strong separation of news topics. We decided to stick with their subpages for this section of our menu.

News and Headlines
Arts and Humanities
Athletics
Business
Education
General
Health and Medicine
Law
Public and Environmental Affairs
Science
Social Science
Technology

Summary

Final Navigation Selection

Our final navigation is divided into four categories, each with separate sub-navigation. We chose "About the University" to provide general information that applies to the entire university system (not just a single campus). We chose "Campuses" to allow access to profile pages about each individual campus. One problem we had with the existing IU.edu site is that it wasn't immediately obvious that the University is actually eight separate campuses; in our redesign, we wanted to make this fact obvious. We chose "Information For..." to let the users identify themselves and be directed to the information most relevant to them. Much information is relevant to one user but not the others, so having all this information together would be too confusing. Thus, by separating it, we can cater to the particular user. Finally, we chose "News and Headlines" because we wanted a way for users to access up-to-date information about the university system.

About the UniversityCampusesInformation For...News and Headlines
AcademicsBloomingtonProspective StudentsArts and Humanities
AdministrationEastCurrent StudentsAthletics
Board of TrusteesFort WayneParents, Families, and VisitorsBusiness
CampusesIndianapolisFaculty and StaffEducation
Community OutreachKokomoAlumni and FriendsGeneral
Facts and FiguresNorthwestBusiness and IndustryHealth and Medicine
History and MissionSouth BendProspective EmployeesLaw
Research and PublicationsSoutheastPublic and Environmental Affairs
Science
Social Science
Technology

© 2010 - Matt Soave, Ross Campbell, Kyle Frost