GSU Redesign: Great concept, terrible execution

Pounce 404 Page

The worst kept secret at Georgia State is finally out.

The university has a new WordPress-backed website and it’s here to stay – at least until the school works out a few major kinks, that is.

Featuring more photos, quicker responsiveness, and a new universal interface, it’s obvious that Georgia State has sunk a great deal of time (and money) into the new site.

But, for all that effort, it’s hard to imagine how anyone at the university could have possibly given the green light to go ahead and make this public. With major launch problems across the board with 404’s and broken pages abounding, not even to mention the site’s schizophrenic design, bouncing from good to bad seemingly at random, this should never have been more than a draft – a mock up to be evaluated, edited and ultimately rethought.

With its fast-sliding and multi-colored segments, the front page almost looks like a puzzle – and acts like one, too. Every time you hover your mouse over a page, something else pops out at you as though trying to scare you away.

The mobile version isn’t too much better, if it loads right to begin with. At first, navigating through the site is like trying to get through a maze where all the walls are constantly changing. In all likelihood, to find the page you’re looking for, you’ll probably have to side scroll several times before doubling back to click your link.

The point is that the current site seems rushed, unnecessarily unwieldy and a far cry from the previous site, which is a shame if not addressed soon.

Of course, fixing bugs and transferring files from a major site like Georgia State’s can be a daunting task. Trust me, I know. We’re still having problems with that at The Signal, though we also don’t have the resources of a major urban research university that’s been planning this for months, either.

After all, the switch to WordPress has been a long time in the making, beginning in part when the university rolled out the sub-domain for its Centennial Celebration this year. Other parts of the main website, including the student blog sponsored by Georgia State’s PR office (a great idea, but more on this later), have been put up recently, too.

That said, there are quite a few things about this redesign that I absolutely love.

For example, President Mark Becker’s new blog immediately captured my attention. Assuming President Becker is actually writing it himself, I think the blog is a great way to connect the president to the community in a manner that’s more intimate than speeches or quotes in a media source. You’ll get no complaints from me about the clearly TNR-influenced design. Absolutely fantastic.

The streamlined admissions site also looks promising, and so does the “Atlanta Connections” page. The Campus Map isn’t a bad idea, either – assuming they can get it working. But then again, that’s the problem, now isn’t it?

In fact, on the whole, while a few students that work for the university’s PR office seem to like the new design, most in the community haven’t been so kind. Don’t believe me? Check out the tweets below for proof.


And those are just a few comments about the new site’s design. When it comes to technical problems, well, see for yourself:


And now for the positive opinions…

While I’m sure some in the Georgia State community will like the new design, I think those in the administration need to ask themselves this very-important question: What does it say about the new site when nearly the only people promoting it are employees of the university’s public relations office?

(By the way, I mean no offense to following people. They probably do, in fact, genuinely like the new site; I just think there’s an inherent conflict of interest here that’s worth pointing out).



And, finally, these are the only people that I could find that actually like the site (well, mostly) and don’t work for the university. That fact alone is pretty telling to me.


What do you think about Georgia State’s website? Comment here or share this post with your friends.