Showcase of Academic and Higher Education Websites

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College and university websites have a lot of roles to fill. They need to provide information for prospective students (both new and transfer), parents of students and prospective students, current students, and alumni. In many cases, they’re also the gateway to the school’s intranet and the public face for both academics and athletics. They often need to include reams of information in a way that makes everything easy to find. It’s a huge challenge.

And the truth is: most college and university websites are horribly designed. Either they look like they were designed fifteen years ago and then forgotten about, or they’re so overloaded with information that it’s almost impossible to find what you’re looking for.

But not every college or university website is horrible. There are some excellent sites out there, and below are some of them. If you know others, please share them in the comments to this post!

General Colleges & Universities

Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University has a simple color scheme and makes great use of icons in their header.

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Ball State University
Ball State University uses a sophisticated color scheme and typography combined with plenty of negative space.

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Bates College
The bold header and grid-based layout work well on the Bates College site.

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Bennington College
Bennington College uses a unique layout and design.

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Berea College
Berea College uses a clean layout, and the cutout in the navigation bar for the logo really sets it apart.

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Case Western Reserve University
Case Western Reserve University uses a unique layout and color options.

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Champlain College
Champlain College uses a sophisticated, muted color scheme and excellent typography.

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Colby-Sawyer College
Colby-Sawyer College has a simple layout with plenty of negative space.

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William & Mary
The bold header image and excellent typography set the William & Mary site apart.

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The College of Wooster
The College of Wooster uses an interactive, animated header.

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Denison University
Denison’s website makes great use of negative space and a simple layout.

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Dickinson College
Dickinson College’s site has a great color scheme and a subtle background image.

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Elon University
Elon University’s site includes a lot of details that make the site look really polished.

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Hamilton College
Hamilton uses a simple color scheme and straight-forward navigation.

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Hampshire College
Hampshire College uses a unique, sophisticated color scheme and typography.

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Lenoir-Rhyne University
Lenoir-Rhyne University has a clean layout and bold header slideshow.

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Marlboro College
Marlboro College makes good use of a simple layout and color scheme.

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Middlebury College
Middlebury College has a completely unique layout with excellent typography.

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Minot State University
Minot State University uses plenty of negative space and clean typography.

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Nebraska Wesleyan University
Nebraska Wesleyan has one of the best-looking college sites out there, with a fantastic background image and excellent typography.

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Northland College
Northland College uses unique typography and grunge elements to stand out.

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Oglethorpe University
Oglethorpe University uses a modern color scheme and typography.

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Ohio Wesleyan University
Ohio Wesleyan uses a bold color scheme and graphics.

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Simmons College
Simmons College uses a clean, grid-based layout and sophisticated color scheme.

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Sweet Briar College
Sweet Briar College steps outside of the norm for a college website and uses a more relaxed, feminine design (appropriate for a women’s college).

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Syracuse University
Syracuse University has a fantastic grid layout and modern color scheme.

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Thomas Edison State College
Thomas Edison State College has a great illustration in their header and a sophisticated color scheme.

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Tufts University
Tufts has a unique layout and excellent typography.

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The University of Alabama
The University of Alabama uses a grid layout and plenty of negative space.

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University of Connecticut
The University of Connecticut’s site has a simple layout and navigation.

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University of Maine Farmington
The University of Maine Farmington’s website uses a basic grid layout and great typography.

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University of Miami
The University of Miami uses a muted color scheme and simple, horizontal navigation.

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University of Minnesota Morris
The University of Minnesota Morris’s site incorporates a number of small details that give the site its polished look.

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University of Nebraska-Lincoln
A simple color scheme and clean, grid-based layout give the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s website a polished and sophisticated look.

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University of Portland
The University of Portland uses a simple layout and color scheme with plenty of negative space.

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University of Rochester
The large background image and non-standard navigation set the University of Rochester’s website apart.

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University of the Sciences in Philadelphia
The University of Sciences in Philadelphia uses a fantastic bright color scheme and clean typography.

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Ursuline College
Ursuline College has a simple layout, good typography, and lots of negative space.

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Vancouver Island University
Vancouver Island University uses a grid layout and fantastic, monochromatic color scheme.

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Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University’s site has clean typography and a simple layout.

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Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University uses a grid layout and sophisticated color scheme.

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Westmont
Westmont utilizes a slideshow header and great color scheme.

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University of Aberdeen
The University of Aberdeen has a fantastic grid layout.

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Bournemouth University
Bournemouth University uses bright accent colors and tabbed navigation.

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University of Bradford
The University of Bradford uses bright accent colors and a grid layout to stand out.

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University of Chester
The University of Chester uses an obvious grid layout, an animated header, and simple navigation.

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Edge Hill University
Edge Hill University has a header slideshow, minimalist color palette, and lots of negative space.

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University of Hull
The University of Hull has a unique layout, simple navigation, and great accessibility features.

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Kingston University London
The Kingston University London’s website uses bright accent colors and simple navigation.

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University of Leeds
The University of Leeds has a simple layout, minimalist aesthetic, and good typography. They also make excellent use of icons to simplify navigation.

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University of Oxford
Oxford uses a simple color scheme and clean layout and makes good use of negative space.

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University of Southampton
The University of Southampton has a bold header and simple color scheme.

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Community Colleges

Salt Lake Community College
Salt Lake Community College uses photorealistic and grunge elements, combined with a unique layout.

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Passaic County Community College
Passaic County Community college uses an obvious grid layout and a great color scheme.

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Anoka-Ramsey Community College
Anoka-Ramsey Community College has a unique color scheme and a good use of negative space.

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Columbia State Community College
Columbia State Community College has a simple layout and color scheme with clean typography.

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Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising
FIDM uses an excellent bright color scheme and a prominent slideshow.

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Jamestown Community College
Jamestown Community College’s site has a simple layout and navigation.

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Joliet Junior College
Joliet Junior College has a simple layout with a good use of icons.

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Hagerstown Community College
Hagerstown Community College has a good color scheme, clean typography, and simple navigation.

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Lone Star College System
Lone Star College System makes good use of transparency.

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Washtenaw Community College
Washtenaw Community College has great hand-drawn elements, and a unique layout and color scheme.

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Northland Community & Technical College
Northland Community & Technical College has a sophisticated layout and color scheme.

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Northwest Iowa Community College
The Northest Iowa Community College site uses a mix of collage, photorealistic, and hand-drawn elements.

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Art and Design Colleges & Universities

The Art Institute of Boston
The Art Institute of Boston combines a simple layout with bold header graphics.

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Kansas City Art Institute
The Kansas City Art Institute uses bright colors, a collage-style background, and loose grid layout.

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Memphis College of Art
The Memphis College of Art site uses bright bright pink accents combined with a simple design and clean typography.

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Minneapolis College of Art & Design
The patterned background, animated header, and clean typography set the site of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design apart.

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Moore College of Art & Design
Bold graphics and a textured background makes the Moore College of Art & Design site stand out.

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The Ontario College of Art & Design
The Ontario College of Art & Design uses a grid layout and modern orange and white color scheme.

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Pennsylvania College of Art & Design
The Pennsylvania College of Art & Design uses a modern color scheme and bold header.

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California College of the Arts
The California College of Arts uses a unique color scheme and animated header.

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University College Falmouth
University College Falmouth’s site has bright accent colors, lots of negative space, and simple layout and navigation.

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Maryland Institute College of Art
MICA uses a grid layout, muted color scheme, and excellent typography.

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SCAD
SCAD’s minimalist light-on-dark design sets it apart.

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Corcoran College of Art & Design
Corcoran’s mix of minimalist grid design and bold colors is fantastic.

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Emily Carr University of Art & Design
Emily Carr University of Art & Design has a wonderful minimalist layout and clean typography mixed with bold accent colors.

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Oregon College of Art & Craft
Bold background, great typography, excellent navigation.

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Ringling College of Art & Design
The grid layout and bold background give the website of Ringling College of Art & Design a unique look.

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Other Institutions, Colleges & Universities

Asian University for Women
The Asian University for Women’s site has an excellent gold and maroon color scheme and plenty of negative space.

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California Institute of Integral Studies
The bold typography and great color scheme of the California Institute of Integral Studies sets it apart.

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Rochester Institute of Technology
The orange and cream color scheme, simple navigation and clean typography make the Rochester Institute of Technology’s site unique.

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Conclusion

While the vast majority of college and university websites out there are in need of serious overhaul, there are some fine examples of sites if you look hard enough. If designing a site for a college or university, remember that simplicity and negative space are both important, regardless of the amount of information a site needs to contain.

↑ Back to top

Cameron Chapman is a professional Web and graphic designer with over 6 years of experience. She writes for a number of blogs, including her own, Cameron Chapman On Writing. She’s also the author of The Smashing Idea Book: From Inspiration to Application.

  1. 1

    Excellent, comprehensive review. As you mentioned, academic sites are often really bad (especially middle school ones) and these examples show how it is easy to present important information in a professional format. Lovely!

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  2. 2

    I have to add my alma mater, Kutztown University to the list. Specifically, the Communication Design department’s website.

    http://www.kutztown.edu/acad/commdes/

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  3. 3

    Impressive collection. Websites of educational institution are usually quite nice and there are some in here that really do stand out. Some are a little outdated, but still OK.

    Would’ve liked some more websites from European institutions.

    Some Dutch websites would be:
    http://w3.tue.nl/en/
    http://www.ru.nl/english/
    http://www.universiteittwente.nl/en

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  4. 4

    http://www.edustyle.net makes this post obsolete.

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    • 5

      I use edustyle all the time but still love to browse through this post when I’m looking for inspiration. Edustyle is nice but it doesn’t have a very good “hand-picked” section.

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  5. 6

    Very attractive sites! Kudos to Berea College–my former employer–and its webmaster for making this list!

    I would add that however attractive the design is, even more essential to higher ed sites is that the content be kept up to date. Worse than not finding the information needed on a site is finding it but then discovering that it’s old information.

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  6. 7

    I like the article and I’m really amazed how important it seems to be to have a big picuture on the frontpage. I’m looking for a similar collection of site of dance schools (ballet etc.).

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  7. 8

    here’s a grungier, edgier academic site:
    http://moore.edu.au/
    (i got this this college)

    what do you think?

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  8. 10

    Michael Sawicki

    March 19, 2010 5:00 am

    I love colleges and universities that understand that having a great web site is so important. It’s one of the very first things a prospective student sees when they are looking for a school. You MUST impress them right away.

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  9. 11

    Dmitriy Plekhov

    March 19, 2010 5:09 am

    Thank you Cameron. Very intresting post.
    Another great examples:
    Princetone University, USA http://www.princeton.edu/main/
    Howard Florey Institute, Australia http://www.florey.edu.au/

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  10. 12

    I couldn’t be any less satisfied with my own universities website. It has always bugged me. They feel the need to add in irrelevant photo’s (most likely from istock) everywhere I look. It’s impossible to navigate, I can never get to what I need.

    So I’d add to the conclusion that comprehensible navigation, tooltips, and consistency of design are also important.

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  11. 13

    I am the Webmaster (read Web Designer) for the University of South Florida’s College of Behavioral & Community Sciences (quite a mouthful, I know), and we are working on a redesign of our departmental sites. We have finished two of 8. Critique is welcome!

    http://csd.bcs.usf.edu/
    http://rmhc.bcs.usf.edu/

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    • 14

      Hi Jason:

      I entered in both sites, and there are some suggestions:

      1. The header has a liquid construction, so it spread across my screen while the rest of the page seems to be of a fixed at a width of 700 px. I would suggest to let the header be fixed as well.
      2. At the header search tool, the phrase “All BCS” breaks into a second line. A little bit confusing.
      3. I would suggest enlarging the main content box from 700 px to something like 980px. I don’t know if your stats advise for a 700px width layout, but my sites have less than 5% of users with a screen resolution of 800px.

      Regards.

      Carlos

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  12. 15

    The Ontario College of Art and Design is actually a university with its old name. Not a community college.

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  13. 16

    I would also add Full Sail University (entertainment, media, and arts school) – http://www.fullsail.edu.

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    • 17

      Cesar Mujica Castro

      March 19, 2010 2:24 pm

      Definitely

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    • 18

      I completely agree with Carol. Full Sail University has a great website.

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    • 19

      Can’t believe Full Sail didn’t make it on the list, they are massive in media! I don’t know anyone that has ever attended there, but have been to the site on a few occasions over the past few years.

      Cameron – amazing list. Seriously nice work.

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  14. 20

    It’s great to see my Alma Mater Ball State University second on this list. That’s where I learned my trade, but no University of Evansville, where I currently work. Make sure to check out http://www.evansville.edu.

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  15. 21

    You forgot one of the best new technology schools in Canada!

    The Center For Arts and Technology

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  16. 22

    Dana College out of Blair Nebraska has a good site also.
    http://www.dana.edu/

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  17. 23

    Full Sail University has an excellent website:

    http://www.fullsail.edu

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  18. 24

    I’ll be homer and suggest this one too: North Carolina State University http://www.ncsu.edu/

    Some of these are quite impressive. Dickinson’s stands out.. it seems a bit more clean and polished that many of the others. Some seem to be trying a little too hard, but I think DC nailed it.

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    • 25

      than** many of the others.

      self-imposed grammar police

      Katy, don’t get too upset. I don’t think Cameron meant anything personal, and she certainly didn’t say anything against the institution or its alumnae.

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  19. 26

    http://www.virginia.edu makes great use of ajax and jquery as well as icons and interactive features.

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  20. 27

    I don’t even know where to start:

    “Sweet Briar College steps outside of the norm for a college website and uses a more relaxed, feminine design (appropriate for a women’s college).”

    Subtle, backhanded sexism pervades many people’s perceptions of women’s colleges. Do some research about the remarkable alumnae of these institutions before you pass judgment.

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    • 28

      Wow, Katy… that’s like saying that oreos are racist. You won’t get far on the Internet with oversensitivity like that.

      The author was just saying that a relaxed design fit the theme of a women’s college. He didn’t mean to imply anything other than that.

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      • 29

        Hey Ben,

        I totally concur with Katy about the implications of the site design – yuck, a big turn off and pretty much anti real women.

        BTW, the author is female, not male as you seem to assume.

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        • 30

          I’ll just paste this here from above:

          Katy, don’t get too upset. I don’t think Cameron meant anything personal, and she certainly didn’t say anything against the institution or its alumnae.

          Let’s keep things in perspective guys.

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    • 31

      I have to agree with Katy and will go a step beyond what she said—the site shouldn’t even be on this list. The graphics are terrible and outdated. It looks like a poorly designed web site for a pre-school or daycare. It should not be complimented on its “more relaxed, feminine design”. A serious college deserves a serious web site, be it a women’s college or not.

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      • 32

        Jenn, I concur with you wholeheartedly. This site reinforces the stereotypical view of women and is not worthy of being showcased. And I am a female.

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    • 33

      You are always complaining, god…

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  21. 34

    Concordia, up here in Moorhead, just launched a very cool virtual tour. It’s fullscreen HD video bringing you along the trails on campus from classroom to the stadium to the res halls…


    http://www.concordiacollege.edu/experience

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  22. 35

    Always nice to see a big showcase of similarly themed sites. It’s good to see a few of these establishments breaking away from the grid-based layout – which is the norm for sites with deep navigation.

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  23. 36

    Feel like this list is a mixed bag. A bunch could’ve been left off and have a shorter quality list. Lone Star College System? Marlboro College? Not well polished by a long shot.

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  24. 37

    Some nice sites are listed here! This can be used as inspiration for corporate web design.

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  25. 38

    University of Aveiro
    http://www.ua.pt

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  26. 39
  27. 40

    Is it just me or do The University of Alabama and Elon University’s websites look STRANGELY similar??

    Thanks for the article, SM!

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  28. 42

    Great showcase. Missed one for the Art & Design schools, check out the Columbus College of Art & Design. http://www.ccad.edu

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  29. 43

    I’ve been looking for a resource like this for a while. Thanks. In my search for well-designed college sites, one good one I found was Biola University (http://www.biola.edu/).

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  30. 44

    Seriously? While I will agree that there are some good sites here, I think over half could have been left off.

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  31. 45

    Great list Cameron. Good food (:
    Just sad that Stone Laboratory didn’t make the list http://stonelab.osu.edu

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  32. 47

    Thanks for the Big Ups SM! —Elon University Web team!

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  33. 49
  34. 50

    http://www.dis.dk just got redesigned.

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  35. 51

    Another issue is that there are tons of subdomains for every college/university that are built/designed differently than the main site. Here’s a good example: http://aux.uncc.edu

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  36. 52

    Thanks for the roundup.

    I enjoyed the vibrant the colors used in University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. Great to see how some are not afraid to break the out of the paradigm that defines education.

    Some sites live up the quote by Socrates “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel”

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  37. 53

    I had some serious doubts about the cosmetics of my university’s site, until I see the others you put here. Check http://www.yesevi.net to see what i mean.

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  38. 54

    Thank you so much, been wanting an education round up for ages.

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  39. 55

    Verdict: Put a big picture on your homepage and it is listed in a showcase article on smashing.

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    • 56

      David Hutchison

      March 19, 2010 8:57 am

      Come on @Mugros, more than a little cynical. How about this? Verdict: Put a big picture on your homepage and people will notice you! There is so much emotion in choosing a school, and great photos do a better job of stirring them up than any amount of text.

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  40. 57

    Strange that Washtenaw would be considered in the group. Lots of issues with the design, including:

    1. most visitors don’t know the audience navigation on the left side is clickable
    2. news articles are highlighted – who cares if you just want to apply to the college?
    3. there’s no apply option on the home page – isn’t that a main goal of the college?

    Too bad the Washtenaw Community College website doesn’t provide a usable calendar. Students and staff find the features on the calendar frustrating (no way to bookmark an event or day), consider it a joke, and call it the “polka dot calendar”.

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  41. 58

    http://www.wsu.edu

    One of the best I’ve browsed through. Super clean, interactive, and always changing. Really easy to find stuff.

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  42. 59

    The Anglia Rukin website is amazingly well coded:

    http://www.anglia.ac.uk/ruskin/en/home.html

    Have a browse through some of the pages!

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  43. 60

    ASU is a great one as well

    http://www.asu.edu

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  44. 61

    Thanks so much for this post! I didn’t think I’d ever see this topic when I emailed the request/suggestion a couple weeks ago, but Smashing did it again and surprised the heck out of me!

    On a side question for the other university/college web masters out there, what type of CMS do you guys use and why?

    Thanks again!

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  45. 62

    Thaks for this list of attractive higher-ed web designs. It’s good inspiration and nice to see things from a range of schools. One danger I see with focusing on just the visual design is that it doesn’t reveal whether these sites conform to best practices in web standards, let alone present a usable or accessible site. It’s still great visual food for thought.

    For a recent study, I surveyed 195 law school home pages, to record which use certain elements like carousel displays, hierarchical content and CSS layouts. Read it here if anybody wants the data: Top 10 Law School Home Pages of 2009 http://ssrn.com/abstract=1544368

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  46. 63

    Have you considered the University of Lethbridge?

    http://www.ulethbridge.ca

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  47. 64

    Not bad, but most of the ones on the list I didn’t think were that great. Many of them look out-dated or simply boring. I liked the Leeds one a lot.

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  48. 65

    Very nice collection of school websites. I recently put together a premium theme called WordPress University. It was a challenge when you consider all the different needs of a school/university website. You can check it out at http://tinyurl.com/y996r5p

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  49. 66

    Nice but you left out a lot!

    Almost every one of those sites is a clusterflock of too many links and design by political bargaining.

    Simplify! Standard navigation is typically a link to every fracking area or program with a web page.

    Some, while they may have great this or that, simply have way too much going on, too many focal points, too much stuff to click or unclick.

    There are about 5 things anyone looks at on a site, figure them out and let that be the site. Yeah sure, the rest of you on campus can have some pages but they won’t get top billing, or even secondary billing.

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  50. 67
  51. 68

    Perhaps I’m biased, but my alma mater, Brigham Young University, has a pretty decent site.

    http://www.byu.edu

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  52. 69

    Recently, I too was doing some research on college and university web sites. I ran across this site which I thought was pretty cool, especially for their size. They did a nice job of segmenting their audiences, serving up a dedicated page just for prospective undergrads.

    BIOLA University – undergrad microsite: http://www.biola.edu/undergrad/

    Nice use of video and social media.

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  53. 70

    Saint Louis University – http://www.slu.edu #gameover

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  54. 71

    Awesome list!

    Here is another outdoor education site: http://colt.bc.ca/

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  55. 72

    Excellent review. To add to the list http://friends.edu/

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  56. 73

    Nebraska Wesleyan University
    http://www.nebrwesleyan.edu

    They have an amazing virtual tour and design created by local Nebraska firm’s “Bozell and Roundscapes”
    –Tim

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  57. 74

    I think it’s great to see that schools have finally started to realize that they need to pay more attention to online, and this a great list showcasing that. I remember back in the day when it was painful to use the web to preview class schedules and programs,etc. I guess it finally clicked that a school is a business and they need promote themselves as any business does.

    Thanks for sharing this list.

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  58. 75

    I think the address should be:
    Showcase of Academic and Higher Education Websites in USA
    to be more specific
    i `d like to see about other countries too

    Thanks

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  59. 76

    I too have to include Biola – http://www.biola.edu – very good site design and custom artwork. I also have to include Crown College – very well designed undergraduate site: http://www.crown.edu/collegebound

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  60. 77

    I think KU’s homepage is an amazing mesh of information and style.

    http://ku.edu

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  61. 78

    Hands down, my personal favorite: http://exploretamuq.com/

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  62. 79

    Wao….great collection & thanks for sharing.

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  63. 80

    My University just went through a complete redesign, and I think it looks 110% better than it did. All the information that was sitting there has been presented in a really nice way!
    http://www.phoenix.edu

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  64. 81

    I think what impresses me most is how well the community colleges are doing with their MUCH smaller web departments. Washtenaw Community College, FDIM, and Northland Community stood out to me. BTW the Northland site looks better live then in screenshot. Must have made some updates.

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    • 82

      Tell me about it, I’m by myself at our community college as the only web designer. I’m in the middle of a redesign but can’t get any work done because of all the requests, fixes, and non-web related tasks that are thrown my way by upper management.

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  65. 83

    Our site was revamped a few years back. The homepage is very simple which I like.

    UW-Milwaukee – http://www.uwm.edu

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  66. 84

    Where do the designers get the photos for these sites? Does the design firm hire a photographer to take new photos or are these just stock?

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    • 85

      I worked on a couple of the sites in this showcase and in both cases many of the photos were taken by photographers hired by the University specifically for the website. Many of the Universities also have large photo archives on hand for marketing purposes.

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      • 86

        Our college usually hires a photographer once per academic year for studio shots. Other than that we resort to myself, or other people that are some what trained in the marketing department for the pictures. You might have to sift through some crap to get something usable, but it’s not too bad.

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    • 87

      Steven, many colleges use photographers like myself who are able to help institutions tell their story. Personally, the great mistake many colleges make when hiring a photographer is asking he/she to make their images look like another institution they admire. Each college or university has their own unique personality and that needs to be tapped.

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  67. 88

    Hey!! Check out http://www.poly.edu
    They changed it sometime in august last year. It looks good.

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  68. 89

    Recently redesigned CSU Northridge website is at http://www.csun.edu

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  69. 90

    The Oxford one is fantastic, good collection though.

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  70. 91

    Why isn’t Harvard, MIT listed?

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  71. 92

    “alice March 19th, 2010 11:33 pm
    Why isn’t Harvard, MIT listed?”
    two reasons:
    1. all articles are subject to a personal point of view
    2. to avoid legal issues with large institutions, companies, that would cost the website money :)

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  72. 93

    Come on, yet another list? I found this article had very little actual content and anyone could have easily found a bunch of college websites by finding a list of universities.

    Also, I find most of the sites here to be not spectacular. Sure they’re a lot better than other academic sites out there, but they’re just not high quality enough to really add any sort of value to the thousands of lists that already exist. So this one was worse than the usual random list I find here.

    Anybody else getting tired of lists?

    0
  73. 94

    Comparing university websites is a really good idea and there are some good looking sites. But I agree with some other comments, this is an American showcase only, it might be interesting what it looks like in other parts or the world.
    Also I think you show too many examples, after the 10th website I grew tired and scrolled to the end because I thought there would be some more content. But there wasn’t. Maybe it’s better to use only about 10 websites and analyze them in more detail.

    0
  74. 95

    nice article but there are more highschools , universities etc. on this planet.

    0
  75. 96

    stanford website is great also http://www.stanford.edu/

    0
  76. 97

    Oh noooo! You’re forgetting Full Sail University!

    http://www.FullSail.edu

    0
  77. 98

    The worst academic website is that of the RuG – http://www.rug.nl

    0
  78. 99

    Not to mention Blackboard!

    0
  79. 100

    I’ve checked on Full Sail University floated by Josh Sadler, Carol Cox and Jeremy Buff. It has an outstanding website. The interiors well designed and organized. Easy to find info. It’s a pleasure reading. Their major draw back is the heavy use of flash. Their first page requires complete re-drawing. Too much animation will always help the user to loose focus. Funny, first page actually not offering any perspective (focus).

    0
    • 101

      You talk about the major draw back of Full Sail’s site being Flash. But that argument is kind of mute when you like at SCAD’s website. Their entire home page is written in Flash. Even the navigation elements. I think Full Sail has done a great job of moving away from a Flash heavy site and focusing more on the user. The push the limits in design and technology on their site, they deserve a little more love on this list….

      0
  80. 102

    Thank you for this roundup,
    I’m going to design a website for a school next month, this can help me really a lot.

    0
  81. 103

    asfasfasf

    0
  82. 104

    Another example of a fine layout of a college site:
    http://www.hws.edu/

    0
  83. 105

    Great list of examples

    0
  84. 106

    Auburn University is nice – http://www.auburn.edu

    -1
  85. 107

    Great list, and I love it everytime seeing the art college ones, so obvious :)
    Thanks for the list

    0
  86. 108

    Great showcase Cameron! I don’t live in U.S but one of my favorites is the web site of Niagara University. http://www.niagara.edu/

    0
  87. 109

    Whoa, you should’ve heard the complaints we got at Nebraska Wesleyan when they changed our site! Although still a little hard to navigate around it I agree with it being “one of the best looking with excellent typography”.

    0
  88. 110

    Asnake Gizachew

    March 21, 2010 1:00 am

    great collection .. at least she have tried to throw a stone …. even if it show sites of US universities …. hope to see other countries experience …
    thanks a lot

    0
  89. 111

    Great for inspiration

    0
  90. 112
  91. 113

    Some of the websites from the list still look like they were from the 90′s… Leeds is a personal favourite though.

    Nicest looking educational website I’ve seen so far is of the Tallinn English College: http://www.tik.edu.ee/ , ironically/unfortunately only available in Estonian.

    0
  92. 114

    All too often Education sites can be among the least attractive or even the least purposeful, so great to see the list.

    I’d suggest this site would be a worthy contender as well: http://qaci.eq.edu.au

    0
  93. 115

    Another site worthy of consideration. Very modern for an economics department. http://econ.duke.edu/

    0
  94. 116

    Gianpaolo D'Amico

    March 21, 2010 4:08 pm

    Nice list, I would like to add http://www.mmm.unifi.it/ , the Master in Multimedia Content Design website from the University of Florence, Italy, in which we proposed a magazine-style concept in order to promote digital media giving voice to teachers, ex-students and others professionals, by means of interviews and dedicated articles about life in the classroom

    0
  95. 117

    Great collection you have put together. I have been waiting for a post on academic websites. I would like to see a post go into more detail about the process in developing a website for an educational institute. I have designed and managed 3 education website one being http://www.stmarg.qld.edu.au .

    A site i think would suit your list is http://www.griffith.edu.au

    0
  96. 118

    What about http://www.utoronto.ca? I think it’s very well designed. I’m also fond of the website for one of the university’s colleges, http://www.newcollege.utoronto.ca

    0
  97. 119

    This kind of post is useful. I hope you do similar posts for websites from other industries (construction, governmental, natural resources, shopping malls, etc).

    ——

    My only critique of this website is the over-usage of words like “amazing”, “fantastic” and descriptions like “excellent typography”. Most of the websites showcased throughout the posts of Smashing Magazine are not amazing and most do not have excellent typography. They are “pretty good” and “not bad” and occasionally “better than most”.

    Please sit your writing staff down, and tell them they are allowed to use the word “fantastic” once a day, “amazing” once a month, and “incredible” once a year.

    0
  98. 120

    For a High School website: http://wilmothighschool.com
    designed by Josh Betz

    0
  99. 121

    wow really unimpressed with these designs.

    0
  100. 122

    Add The University of Queensland to the list, it’s just undergone a re-design. http://www.uq.edu.au/

    0
  101. 123

    Great list! I would also suggest Middlesex University http://www.mdx.ac.uk

    1
  102. 124

    I knew i saw a layout like Middlebury College.

    Compare to:
    leoburnett.com/#/showcase

    0
  103. 125

    Nice List…Thanks

    0
  104. 126

    #20 Nebraska Wesleyan University – Great color scheme !

    0
  105. 127
  106. 128

    excellent collections!!!

    0
  107. 129

    Oscar Geurts Amsterdam

    March 22, 2010 5:53 am

    I am impressed with the list of references.
    But I do think this list is based upon attractiveness of graphic design.
    Non of these seem to have a real user-cnetric design.

    I’d like to submit http://www.INHolland.nl as well as http://www.Utwente.nl.

    best regards,

    Oscar

    2
  108. 130

    I’d love for to hear the thoughts on the website I was part of making for New York Law School ( http://www.nyls.edu )

    Thanks,
    AC

    0
  109. 131
  110. 132

    I think http://www.vsup.cz/ is a very good example, and rather original than most from the list.

    0
  111. 133

    I would have loved to see Boston University http://www.bu.edu/ their site uses a different approach than most of the educational sites I have seen so far.

    0
    • 134

      I agree. I work here at BU for their IS&T department and feel we have excelled in creating a beautiful website that incorporates our brand identity. Also check out our new TechHelp website: bu.edu/tech

      0
  112. 135

    Great List. How about Purdue? Boiler UP!
    http://www.purdue.edu

    0
  113. 136
  114. 137

    Fantastic Showcase…some great inspiration!

    0
  115. 138

    Since it hasn’t been posted yet, you can’t forget about the largest (and best) school in Florida, UCF! Redesigned a couple years back.

    http://www.ucf.edu

    0
  116. 139

    you have done really hard work to find but you still miss some but then there are so many education website, but more then half i have never seen, thanks for putting so much time for making this gallery

    0
  117. 140

    Shameless plug for the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics website, where I am the Communications Coordinator. (My predecessor designed the website.) http://www.barcelonagse.eu

    0
  118. 141

    good collection,

    0
  119. 142

    oh, thank god, im be scratching my head ideas for education website.

    thank u sir. +9999

    0
  120. 143

    I was excited by the concept of this article because it’s refreshing to see well designed education sites – and there are some lovely ones listed here – however I think they get lost amongst the noise. This list could really have been paired down to 6 or 7 examples with a bit more commentary on each design and have been far more powerful.

    0
  121. 144

    great post and here is link to my university to
    http://www.dtu.dk

    0
  122. 145

    Andrew S. Roberts

    March 23, 2010 3:23 am

    Great post, I may be a little bias, but here is one that should definitely be included: http://www.iupui.edu/

    0
  123. 146

    Raymon Schouwenaar

    March 23, 2010 5:09 am

    You miss some Dutch School

    School of Graphic design, Media management etc.
    “Grafisch Lyceum Rotterdam”
    http://www.glr.nl

    0
  124. 147

    This is a great collection! I would like to add my Alma Mater, Full Sail University, to the list. Full Sail has an amazing website that was designed and developed in-house!

    http://www.fullsail.edu

    0
  125. 148

    Just adding one to the list:
    http://www.gnomonschool.com

    0
  126. 149

    For me, some of those designs count among the best website designs I have come across. And ironically enough, the non-art-and-design colleges seems to have done better :)

    2
  127. 150

    What an inspiring list – thanks! I just want to add University of Victoria http://www.uvic.ca. Their redesign took silver in the Best Institutional Homepage category in last year’s CCAE Prix d’Excellence awards.

    0
  128. 151

    i ve never seen a such great selection of beautiful university sites. especially in germany – they often just suck in design and behaviour.

    but: great inspirations – there is hope… thanks!

    0
  129. 152

    It’s good to see colleges and universities spend more time working on their websites.

    I would like to add Rio Salado College – http://www.riosalado.edu. They have a clean design.

    0
  130. 153

    http://www.nus.edu.sg as well as http://www.nyp.edu.sg

    They’re both higher education websites.

    0
  131. 154

    Leigh Baker Ronco

    March 24, 2010 1:57 am

    Cameron,
    Thank you so much for including the Colby-Sawyer College site in your beautiful collection. You’ve made my whole month!
    Cheers,
    Leigh

    0
  132. 155

    Why I couldn’t find Stanford website amongue the list?

    0
  133. 156

    Why is Boston University not there???!!! T_T
    http://www.bu.edu

    0
  134. 157

    This is a great collection, thank you for posting! I would like to add Iliff School of Theology to the list. http://www.iliff.edu

    0
  135. 158

    Two great websites that I came across recently. They’re great from the perspective of student experience (usability):

    http://www.nwcu.edu/

    http://www.cornellemba.com/

    0
  136. 159

    hey I wanna download this article, so I could discuss it with my friends and spread it, send it to their emails this is awesome very informative, I soon realize that you don’t have to close the boundaries in designing your web page even if it involves academic, and piratically this sites is truly an eye candy! I wish you could also write about the benefits of publishing a well “designed web site”. Either in the field of advertising or industrial. Keep it going.

    0
  137. 160

    Does anyone else feel that 80% of these Education websites are terrible? And thats just talking about the design. Userability wise through deifferent browsers I’ve seen big issues.

    Don’t get me wrong, some sites are original and engaging. But the others eeem to follow each others styles and blandness. Much Like tomato soup. Its boring on its own, but through in some spices and veg it can become bareable…

    0
  138. 161

    thnx

    nice review!

    Another really nice website from the Netherlands

    http://www.hu.nl
    International: http://international.hu.nl

    1
  139. 162

    Thank you Thank you Thank you!

    I spent a large chunk of my day 3 weeks ago trying to find nice academic sites for a design project for a uni! Found this just in the nick of time! I couldn’t find too many!

    Here are a couple of Australian ones I liked: http://www.swinburne.edu.au and http://www.curtin.edu.au

    0
  140. 163

    This is a Vacational Education Centre of Tartu, Estonia i think that school page looks amazing.
    http://khk.tartu.ee/

    0
  141. 164

    A “unique layout and design”… maybe. But in this case form definitely came before function. As a student at Bennington College I can say that the website is next to useless when it comes to usability. Likewise, while exploring many of the sites on this list, I found that the idea of reflecting a college’s avant-garde nature was given precedence, instead of building something genuinely useful to students, faculty, and staff. In my opinion, a list like this prompts an important discussion about the balance between beauty and function.

    0
  142. 165

    My wife and I are helping to redesign a College site and have found some good organizational ideas from Depaul’s School of Music: http://music.depaul.edu/

    1
  143. 166

    Check out Georgia Southern University’s new look!
    http://www.georgiasouthern.edu/

    0
  144. 167

    Good or bad, it’s very instructive seeing so many higher ed websites to browse in one place. And of course it goes without saying that high quality, high impact images with relevant content will make or break even a poorly designed site. The sites that attract the eye will always be tied to the images.

    0
  145. 168

    Great review!

    0
  146. 169

    Check this one out: http://www.devine.be .

    It’s from a school in Kortrijk (West Flanders, Belgium) where they educate digital design and media.

    0
  147. 170

    Sterling Hamilton

    March 30, 2010 9:04 am

    http://www.unr.edu/home/

    UNR has a variety of technologies behind their site.
    Journalists have access to WordPress – sections on on campus living use CakePHP.
    jQuery is being used throughout the site.

    0
  148. 171

    Great post!

    0
  149. 172

    Nice idea, but this post would have a far greater impact if it were a list of the top x institution websites, with a better criteria for why you think so.

    Also remember that pretty homepages are great, but the real success of a website is in how the university organises its content and presents it throughout the site.

    0
  150. 173

    You guys forgot about School of Visual Art’s Interaction site: interactiondesign.sva.edu/ courtesy of the Heads of State > https://www.theheadsofstate.com.

    0
  151. 174

    This college’s website allows students to view classes, add them to a shopping chart and register for them. Check out San Jacinto College, http://www.sanjac.edu.

    0
  152. 175

    Manzoor kottayil

    April 6, 2010 1:11 am

    Excellent review………Keep writing

    0
  153. 176

    Another college website, but for a special education college in spain, http://www.lapanderola.com

    0
  154. 177

    “The University of Sciences in Philadelphia uses a fantastic bright color scheme and clean typography.” …. Are you really really sure ?! ;)

    0
  155. 178

    Stockholm School of Economics in Sweden. http://www.hhs.se

    0
  156. 179

    thank you!

    1
  157. 180

    You guys need to do some homework before you post these articles and say things like Middlebury design called “a completely unique layout with excellent typography” by Smashing Magazine. You’re right that it was a complete unique layout when I designed it two years ago and it was called The Luxury Collection.com. See for yourself…

    The Luxury Collection
    https://www.starwoodhotels.com/luxury/search/explore_collection.html

    Middlebury College
    http://www.middlebury.edu/#story251166

    0
  158. 181

    inyattawetrust

    May 31, 2010 7:42 am

    A website i designed for an MBA school in Paris. hope you like it :)
    http://www.enpcmbaparis.com

    0
  159. 182

    Medical Justice

    May 31, 2010 7:25 pm

    I just encountered a unique navigation header in the website “The Wurtman Lab” at http://wurtmanlab.mit.edu/publications.php

    The actual lab, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, does research in neuroscience. On their website, the navigation depicts a molecule crossing the blood-brain barrier. It is clever and fun, and reflects the subject matter of the site.

    0
  160. 183

    I liked a handful of these sites, but felt many of them fell short. I would have enjoyed more of an explanation of what made these site so great and how the author came about to include them. Here are some from level8 design studio that I think killed it.
    http://www.hhi.harvard.edu/
    http://www.hunap.harvard.edu/
    http://www.ethics.harvard.edu/

    1
  161. 184

    Great resource! Well done Smashing!

    0
  162. 185

    This article is very useful for me, I’ve learn a lot from this article.

    0
  163. 186

    Great & timely article for a project I’m working on –

    Berea College’s home page is great, but the design totally breaks down as soon as you click to see a subpage. They’ve lost that great color scheme and any of the unique design elements from the home page are gone – it almost looks like you’ve clicked somewhere you shouldn’t be, or like you’ve reached an intranet site.

    0
  164. 187

    Wesley Theological Seminary just redid their website and it is quite nice http://www.wesleyseminary.edu

    0
  165. 188

    Berea College’s recent redesign was actually led by a sophomore computer science student. Which is excellent, seeing as it was showcased here.

    0
  166. 189

    I liked some of the designs but many of them were boring and uninspiring. Having said that, most of them are better than most.

    This is the website at my college which at best looks like it was designed 15 years ago and it looks like a student designed it. Pitiful. I almost cried when I saw it, and when I checked the source and found table-based code, I nearly had a fit. I would offer to design and build a complete new site for them but I wouldn’t have the time over the next 3 years that I’m there for. So sad. http://www.penwith.ac.uk/

    0
    • 190

      I take offense to your comment: “it looks like a student designed it”. I’m currently a student, and I’ve designed many user-friendly and attractive web sites. And I’m definitely not the only one. I was the lead designer on http://www.berea.edu/

      Also, that web site definitely does not look like it was designed “15 years ago at best”. Here was Yahoo!, 15 years ago: http://web.archive.org/web/19961017235908/http://www2.yahoo.com/

      0
      • 191

        It does look like designed 10 years ago maybe not 15( i wasn’t browsing 15 years ago… ). I think it’s rather ugly. On the other hand, your design is well formatted ( equally spaced and easy to read ) but not attractive yet. I can say you are on the right direction to be a good web designer.

        0
  167. 192

    Does anybody know who designed the University of Leeds and University of Hull websites?
    Thanks!
    Marina

    0
  168. 193

    This is a great resource. I work in the higher education marketing industry so I know how bad websites can be. They go from the early 2000s design to the overkill design. A lot of these sites are clean and progress the student to the next step quite well. I would like to submit, http://www.regisdegrees.com/ and http://www.online-lcu.com/.

    -1
  169. 194

    I’ve been looking for a resource like this for a while. Thanks. In my search for well-designed college sites, one good one I found was Biola University) – watchmovieshindi.com

    1
  170. 195

    Sessions College has a simple yet effective design that’s based off the color scheme of their logo. http://www.sessions.edu/

    I like websites that are aesthetically pleasing but I also enjoy a website that is user friendly and functions well.

    Just my two cents ;)

    0
  171. 196

    Have you seen the Parsons liquid menu? I entered the school because of that menu.
    http://www.newschool.edu/parsons/

    0
  172. 197

    You might add http://www.qcollege.ca which was redesigned this year.

    0
  173. 198

    For those drupal designers out there I found some good CMS designed sites: onlinemsw.bu.edu and http://www.purdueonlineprograms.com.

    0
  174. 199

    Nice collections. Thank for posting it. I would like to add http://www.educatenepal.com to this list.

    0
  175. 200

    Great resource! Nice resourceful collection, good inspiration for future sites. thanks a lot for putting them at one place.

    0
  176. 201

    I’m blown away by the SCA site. Anyone know what Interactive Agency designed it?

    0
  177. 202

    I love the Hampshire College website, simple, clean and great use of colors. The Middlebury college one is kind of obnoxious. I definitely like strong colors on a website. Another college website I am a fan of is http://www.burlington.edu

    0
  178. 203

    I’m a little biased, but I’m surprised College of the Atlantic didn’t make the list

    0
  179. 204

    Thanks for the great collection of academic and higher education websites! There is a lot of talent out there creating these amazing sites.

    I would like to submit The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Their site is frequently updated and currently has a great sliding background with student artwork.

    http://uarts.edu/

    0
  180. 205

    Thanks for this excellent list!

    I’d like to add the recently relaunched site for Roger Williams University

    The site was designed and developed by OHO Interactive

    0
  181. 206

    This is a spam comment!

    -4

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