A comprehensive report compiled by law librarians from Yale Law School and Georgetown University Law Center – Jason Eiseman and Roger V. Skalbeck, respectively – identified the best law school homepages based on objective criteria. Aptly called “Top Law School Homepages,” the study proved it does not take special design skills or expensive technology to have an effective law school website. In 2009, the school tied for 11th place. In 2010, the school tied for sixth out of the approximately 200 sites reviewed.
The study considered design patterns and metadata, accessibility and validation and communications in its ranking. Under design patterns, worth 24 points, the study assessed seven qualities: search form, RSS autodiscovery, content carousel, embedded media, microformats, Dublin Core and HTML5. Under accessibility and validation, worth 32 points, the study considered headings, wave errors, CSS, alt attribute and valid markup. The communications portion of the comparison looked for major components like meaningful page title, address, phone number, social media links, thumbnail images, news headlines, favicon and other elements.
Florida Coastal School of Law’s site received high marks in accessibility and communications.
The marketing and communications department at Florida Coastal School of Law oversees the website’s content strategy and considers branding elements for the site.
“It’s about keeping your eye on some of the global trends – what other schools and companies are doing that works,” said Brooks Terry, director of marketing and communications for Coastal Law.
He described the 2009 11th place ranking as “pleasantly surprising.”
“We had applied our own institutional knowledge to enhancing the website not knowing they’d be looking at it,” said Terry of the first Yale and Georgetown study. “When we saw we were on the right track, that was reassuring. Going into the second cycle, we had a much more educated guess about what they’d be looking at.”
Florida Coastal School of Law adopted the practices of measuring its effectiveness and shared some of its findings during a panel discussion at the annual Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction conference.
Representatives from the law school’s communications and IT departments spoke during the conference. During the gathering, Coastal Law experts shared how the school uses the report to “internally benchmark website effectiveness while also looking for opportunities to continuously improve,” Terry said.
Terry said he does not expect any major overhauls to occur on the website during the next year or two.
“We are always trying to give our constituents the best possible experience we can,” Terry said.