Should a College Homepage Have The Local Weather Displayed?

By Kyle James - Thu, Dec 9, 2010

General

Should a College Homepage Have The Local Weather Displayed?

Deciding what goes on a college homepage is a big challenge.  There are a lot of cooks in the kitchen when it comes to deciding what goes on the homepage.  Having something as minor as displaying the local weather on the homepage can become a hotly debated issue.

Reasons Not To Have The Weather Displayed

I want to start with reasons not to have the weather displayed because I think it comes down to one main issue.  The obvious reason is a matter of clutter.  Unfortunately a big challenge with homepages is people try to get it to do too many things.  Every department at a college or university wants their story on the homepage of the website because they know it’s most likely to be seen there.  A homepage can easily account for up to 25% of the total pageviews of a school’s site in a day.  In an effort to keep it as simple and uncluttered as possible there is no place for the weather to go.

Also another important reason for not doing this is because this means that you don’t have to do any technical work.

Reasons To Have The Weather Displayed

The reasons to have the weather displayed aren’t as cut and dry as the reasons against it.  There are actually many reasons why this can be a strategic thing to display.

  • People On Campus Visit The Homepage – What I specifically mean by this is that your faculty, staff and current students have to be included when you think of all the audiences you support.  If your school offers something like webmail (are there any that don’t?) then I’d be willing to bet that the way most people access the webmail service is through a link off the homepage of your website.  I would also be willing to bet that some large portion open email first thing when they wake up in the morning.  Getting an idea of the weather for the upcoming day can be a great service to offer.  As a side bonus it could possibly prevent a few students from getting sick each year, but that might be too far of a stretch, huh?
  • Prospective Students Visit your Homepage – Of course prospective students see your homepage, but you are probably asking why the weather would matter.  Knowing the weather can be one way that a prospective student gets a feeling of what will change if they choose your school.  For example if the prospective student lives in New England and your school is in Florida then the almost year-round warmer weather can be a huge selling point.  Someone going the opposite way would benefit greatly in understanding they can’t wear flip flops and shorts year-round.
  • Athletic Fans Visit Your Website – Similarly if your school has a big upcoming football game it can be a nice reminder to plan accordingly.
weather on uva Should a College Homepage Have The Local Weather Displayed?

A non-disruptive example of weather on the homepage of virginia.edu. Can you find it?

This element can do more things like make your homepage more dynamic and personal, but you probably have been given a few ideas already.

Closing

Personally I think it’s a great option to have the weather displayed on a homepage once you weigh all the pros and cons here.  If nothing else, it is another little thing that you can consider.  I didn’t actually talk about how to do it, but if there is real interest around that it could be a pretty interesting post to write.  Leave a comment with your opinion on the subject or if you would be interested in reading a post that walks through how to set it up.

Photo Credit: Snead State, snow on Campus by Larry Miller


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This post was written by:

Kyle James

Kyle James - who has written 229 posts on .eduGuru

Kyle is currently the Customer in Residence at HubSpot, a Co-Founder at nuCloud and  formerly the webmaster at Wofford College. Kyle is an active contributor in the social media spectrum. Although his background is technical, he claims to know a thing or two about marketing, but mostly that revolves around SEO, analytics, blogging, and social media. He has spoken at multiple national conferences and done countless webinars on topics ranging from e-mail marketing to social media and Web analytics. He's definitely a fairly nice guy.

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6 Responses to “Should a College Homepage Have The Local Weather Displayed?”

  1. Avatar image
    James Fuller Says:

    Please do the post on instructions. It would so useful.

    Reply

  2. Avatar image
    Timothy Russell Says:

    If people want the weather, there are sites for that. A university homepage is not a newsreader or feed aggregator. I get the point about sports, but then it goes on the athletics page.

    If there is a campus weather emergency, then that should go in your regular homepage emergency communications feature that seamlessly comes and goes as the need arises (you do have one, right?).

    Reply

    • Avatar image
      Kyle James (author) Says:

      @Timothy -
      It is absolutely fine if all colleges don’t want to have a the weather on the homepage this is just throwing an interesting idea out to the community that they might not have thought about.

      “A university homepage is not a newsreader or feed aggregator.” With the Trinity homepage having aggregated content about Admission Events, Campus Events and Latest Blog Posts you are kind of contradicting yourself here though?

      Reply

      • Avatar image
        Timothy Russell Says:

        Hey Kyle - didn’t mean to criticize, sorry if it came off that way. Yes, the Trinity site aggregates content (this is a new feature since we just switched to WordPress - would love any feedback about the site!), but it is school-generated content that can only come from us.

        I think what I was trying to say is that the homepage is such rarefied real estate that it ought not be redundant with other sites that people commonly visit. One could, I suppose, also put traffic conditions on the homepage of schools that have a lot of commuter students.

        One too many ‘fights’ about putting random stuff on the homepage has made me old and cranky. Oh man, I just realized that last sentence is literally “get off my lawn.” I need a vacation.

        Thanks for the great blog.

      • Avatar image
        Kyle James (author) Says:

        I totally understand those fights. I’ve been them before. I remember wanting to take it down to just having a big awesome random picture and five links. We know that every visitor falls in one of the following five categories so we should make it simple to customize for them.
        -Prospective Students
        -Current Students
        -Faculty/Staff
        -Alumni/Friends
        -Visitors
        Let’s just say I lost that one even though it doesn’t get any clearer or simpler and every group could then have their own homepage to completely customize to meet their audiences needs.

        Nothing is worse than a fight over a real estate on the college homepage… why is that?

  3. Avatar image
    Ask Question Says:

    If people want the weather report then lots of other websites are available…but on the home page of college website its quit good??:)

    Reply

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