In addition to the three presentations I did at the Innovative Educators conference last week, I did a session critiquing several sites volunteered by attendees. While these reviews focused on all aspects of what goes into a great site, usability was what everyone was most interested in.

It amazes me that many higher ed sites continue to have serious usability issues. For example, one site we reviewed prevented someone using Firefox from completing the admissions application. Opening the “Apply Now” link resulted in an error message saying “WARNING! Unsupported Browser!” I also shared an example from my school where the housing request form was recently made available online. Here is some of the text from the instructions:

System Requirements :
You MUST ONLY use IE v 6.0+. You cannot use a Mac. Incompatible browsers may prevent some pages from being displayed. Do not use Firefox.

I guess we don’t want any Mac users or Firefox users living on campus!

I wish these were isolated cases, but the majority of higher ed sites I visit have usability issues. So my questions for the group is why does higher ed continue to struggle with usability? I have my own thoughts, but I would love to hear yours.