Wide web of best practice

September 2, 2010

In your article "Deciphering the code" (19 August) you provided a (somewhat confusing) league table of the best-performing institutional websites as judged by a group of sixth-formers. While the limitations of the survey methodology and the benefits in providing a league table need to be recognised, the discussions of potential students' expectations of a university website are very relevant.

However, there seems to be an assumption that only a small number of institutions (those listed as the best-performing ones) are aware of such issues and are implementing the best suggestions given in the article.

The Institutional Web Management Workshop has been running for 14 years and ensures that best practices in the provision of institutional web services are shared across the sector, guaranteeing that standards are raised throughout the sector. If you google "IWMW 2010", you should find the programme for this year's event. You will see that web managers at higher education institutions are sharing best practices in several of the areas mentioned in the article, including use of social web services.

The need for institutions to engage with the social web to support student recruitment is well understood and institutional web teams are active in this area. However, providing artificial league tables doesn't really help - and would we be surprised to see a normal distribution of user ratings of websites?

Brian Kelly, UKOLN, University of Bath.

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