March 17, 2010
Dear God, Not Another Law School Ranking Metric: Top 10 Law School Home Pages of 2009
The ranking is based on "a tabulation of fourteen objective design criteria." including some truly significant ones, like:
Favicon – 7 points: A favorites icon (or “favicon”) is a small graphic associated with a website, which appears in places such as the browser location bar or in your bookmarks or favorites file. The favicon is probably the most important tiny graphic any site can have, and it is a simple way to help identify a law school brand or image.
Smiles – 5 points: Somebody is smiling in at least one picture on the site.
God help me -- here's the Top 10 Law School Home Pages of 2009.
1. George Mason University School of Law
2. University of Virginia School of Law
3. Wayne State University Law School
4. University of Washington School of Law
5. Harvard Law School and Regent University School of Law
7. Loyola University of Chicago School of Law and University of Notre Dame Law School
9. University of Illinois College of Law and Washburn University School of Law
195 Law Schools Ranked. But wait, the ranking of all 195 ABA accredited law school home pages starts at 17 here [SSRN]. Because I know someone in the extreme southwestern corner of the Buckeye State is going to want to know how their school fared after spending over $100K to redesign and maintain its website, here's the home page ranking for Ohio law schools.
|Ohio Law Schools Home Page Ranking|
The study was performed by ... ah ... an academic law librarian, Roger Skalbeck, Associate Law Librarian, Georgetown University Law Center. Roger, if you decide to do this again, it might be more interesting if you added another metric to this ranking: the design and maintenance costs for each law school's website. That's a metric that has to be worth at least 10 times the number of points (subjectively) assigned to both favicons and "shiny happy people."
Hat tip to Dan Filler's post on Brian Leiter's Law School Reports for this little tidbit on info antics, not metrics. [JH]
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Posted by: Website laten maken | Apr 29, 2010 6:18:58 AM
Thanks for the feedback. I am writing to respond to the points about website costs and (presumably lighthearted) criticism of certain criteria.
With all due respect, I don't think maintenance or design costs are useful for this study. As I noted, "[m]ost elements require no special design skills, sophisticated technology or significant expenses." This shouldn't suggest that creating or running a good website is cheap. I just don't think the presence (or absence) of website funding should influence scores in this report.
An underlying hope I had was that objective criteria would help highlight well-designed, user-focused sites. To try to do this, I looked at web design best practices (e.g. hierarchical content, CSS design), communication/branding choices (e.g. social network badges, favorites icon), and site feature decisions (e.g. carousel content, embedded media). Hopefully this creates a meaningful basis for comparison with peer sites. A simple question might be: "should we put a Facebook link on the home page?" I don't have the right answer, but with the report, you can see who thinks you should.
As to the point about the 'Favicon' and 'Smiles' criteria: I think one is significant and the other might not be. Probably neither element influenced any scores. 177 of 195 sites had at least once smiling face, and 144 have a favicon. I still think a favorites icon is absolutely the most important small graphic on your site. Period.
The 'Smiles' criteria might be a curious distraction at best. It reminds me of a time I played poker with a deck containing 52 Elvis photos. When somebody called "all white jumpsuits are wild," everybody had 2 or 3 wild cards. To find a winner, it was only the other cards that mattered. If you can get past the shiny happy people element in this study, I think all the rest matters.
I might do this study again, so please send any suggestions for revising criteria and ranking weight.
All the best,
p.s. For a related survey that includes non-design demographics (e.g. tuition, enrollment, library size), here's an earlier report: Law School Website Design Study 2009 http://www.ll.georgetown.edu/sitesurvey/ It still doesn't reflect website costs, but it avoids some rancor that may result from the rankings rubric.
-- Yes, Roger. It was more light-hearted than anything else. If I have one serious concern, it's the weighting; 12 points for Favicon and Smiles vs. 10 points for Hierarchal Structure that aids the visually impaired user. Also the survey spans so many areas -- marketing, content analysis, web tech, etc. Might be best to evaluate each facet separately and more specifically and then, if one must, rank away by each general facet and a total score. Joe
Posted by: Roger Skalbeck | Mar 17, 2010 2:03:57 PM