The article focuses on the website for Columbia College Chicago and comparisons to its early 2014 version and its recent redesign. The part of the article that caught my attention was the decision to focus on potential students, rather than current students, faculty and staff. "Outward-facing" sites are an idea that appealed to me when I was involved in a college redesign about 8 years ago, but that wasn't the trend back then.
From the article (emphasis mine):
"The new website’s home page would be aimed at only one audience: potential students. Since the home page often creates the first impression for not only the site but also the entire institution, it is the logical place to speak to prospects, says William L. Vautrain, director of digital and online strategy at Columbia.
The new home page would provide clear and easy access to what that the team’s research found potential students wanted most: information about programs, admissions, and financial aid. That information, he says, was "completely hidden away" on Columbia’s old site. The new website would be designed with mobile browsing in mind. About half of four-year colleges now have mobile-optimized websites...
The new website would be leaner and cleaner. Trying to make things simple for prospective students, and for mobile-friendly design, means a radically scaled-back site over all. Rather than paragraphs of explanatory text, a few precise sentences would have to do. And much of the content found on many university websites—departmental pages, administrative information, internal information for current students and faculty members (some of it out of date)—would be handled on separate sites or in password-protected areas. Many pages would not exist on the new site at all. The old Columbia website contained about 36,000 pages, Mr. Vautrain says. The new site has 944.
read more chronicle.com/article/Your-Colleges-New-Website-Is/150189/