Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
March 20, 2013
When optimizing your career center's website for mobile, it’s important to be aware of the hardware and software visitors use to access it, according to Brett Pollak, director of the campus web office at University of California, San Diego (UCSD).
“It begins with analyzing the analytics,” he says.
Pollak reports that at UCSD, websites are seeing about a half-percent per month increase in mobile traffic. Currently, the campus home page receives about 16 percent of its traffic from mobile devices and the student portal receives about 20 percent mobile traffic.
“As we dug deeper, we realized websites or applications targeting students had a higher rate of mobile traffic compared to resources geared toward faculty or staff,” Pollak explains. “This resonated with us since we support a web content management system that contains more than 110 campus websites that primarily target students.”
One of those websites—UCSD’s career services website—is being transitioned to use responsive web design (RWD), Pollak says, so it will “look great on everything from large monitors to the smallest mobile devices.”
“The advantage with RWD,” he explains, “is you can create one site with one set of code and the layout automatically conforms to the resolution of the device accessing the site. A responsive website doesn’t require the user to pinch and zoom to navigate around and read the text.”
Pollak identifies several other key steps for career services offices to take to optimize their websites:
- The first step is to bring up the site on a popular mobile device like an iPhone or one using Android. Navigate around and make sure you can move through the site.
- Ensure your site contains clear, well-formatted content. Make sure links to frequently accessed content are prominent and pages are written in active voice with headings and bullets to allow for scanning.
- If you work with vendors to provide functions for your website, ensure their systems are mobile-optimized.
Pollak says it’s incumbent upon those supporting websites to make sure they work on mobile devices.
“For example,” he says, “if you’re using Flash, your users may not be able to access the information they need. You’re running the risk of alienating your audience.”
While he points out that supporting mobile isn’t difficult if you’re doing the basics, the next steps to making the site responsive can be challenging because doing so is a relatively new approach that members of the technical staff may not have experienced. To deal with this challenge, UCSD’s content management system (CMS) is centralized, and free for qualifying academic and administrative units to use.
“This has been a great way to ensure one group is responsible for analyzing the web trends and ensuring all sites in the CMS are up to standards,” Pollak says. “Not only does this help technical support, but it will save costs through consolidating hosting and maintenance.”
You can find out more about UCSD’s CMS at http://cwo.ucsd.edu/.