Students find content five times faster with OpenScholar

Results from a recent focus group suggest that switching to OpenScholar sites substantially improved the impression that the University of Virginia’s faculty websites had on college students. Comparing the new OpenScholar sites to previous sites, students found the OpenScholar websites to be:

  1. easier to navigate
  2. more cohesive
  3. more professional

OpenScholar provides predefined site structures to help users organize their content right from the start, making it easy to leave a positive first impression.

Students find content faster

[OpenScholar sites] just have a cleaner appearance,” one student said. By creating and providing branded themes that are applied to sites for a consistent look and feel, OpenScholar creates this “clean,” appealing look. Participants in the focus group preferred the OpenScholar sites’ color, their consistency, their organization, and features like a slideshow, which one student described as “captivating.” 

Results from a recent focus group suggest that switching to OpenScholar sites substantially improved the impression that the University of Virginia’s faculty websites had on college students. Comparing the new OpenScholar sites to previous sites, students found the OpenScholar ones to be easier to navigate, more cohesive, and more professional. OpenScholar provides predefined site structures to help users organize their content right from the start, making it easy to leave a positive first impression.

Not only do students find OpenScholar sites more visually appealing, but they also find them far more practical. “I definitely think the OpenScholar sites were more easy to navigate,” one student said. OpenScholar has a flexible drag and drop interface that allows site owners to easily provide content in the desired areas, which helps students find what they need faster. When timed, students found key items like recent publications, newsletter signups, and contact information more than five times faster on the OpenScholar sites compared to their original counterparts. 

And that was, of course, if participants even found what they were looking for on the original websites. Often they would just have to give up, frustrated, after spending over a minute searching for something as simple as a professor’s email address. On OpenScholar sites, students found the same information in as little as one or two seconds. As one student said, “for someone who wants to come and try to contact this person, see their publications, maybe read more about his work - it's right there, and it's easy to navigate.

These improvements have serious implications. The appearance of the OpenScholar websites influenced students’ opinions of the programs themselves; looking at the OpenScholar website for a UVA lab, one student said she “think[s] it looks like more of a well-established program based on how the website is set up.” Another said she felt the labs affiliated with OpenScholar sites seemed “more trustworthy.” These first impressions are critical to how a student perceives a program. And needless to say, if a qualified student is unable to easily find a lab’s publications or contact information, her interest in pursuing a position in that lab or graduate program could be strongly affected. 


 
See also: OpenScholar