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Geek


Topic # 102564 17-May-2012 10:26 Send private message

I've set up a website called www.knowthecourse.co.nz

The site allows students (past and present) to rate and review their University courses and other aspects of Uni life.

The idea of the site is to give future students a better understanding of the courses they are considering applying for.

Any feedback you have is very much appreciated! I'd like to know what people think about the usability of the site, any issues you notice and just what they think of KnowTheCourse in general.

I intend to use a Facebook page ( www.facebook.com/KnowTheCourse ) for promoting the website. I'd be interested to know what else people think I should do to increase the profile the site and encourage people to add reviews? I'm already struggling to get likes on Facebook, and currently being based outside NZ doesn't help!!

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

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gzt

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  Reply # 626961 17-May-2012 17:17 Send private message

It's a great idea, and you've certainly picked a challenge!

The generic clip art on the front page gives the site a domain squatting look unfortunately. The presence of advertising on the front page also contributes to this look.

Btw, dating ads can make a site look really tacky. I choose to block them and a few other silly categories.

Your content is kind of buried behind menus at the mo. You might like to put the list of Uni's on the front page, with a more link for any you can't fit.

The welcome text is superfluous.

If you add Facebook integration etc users will not need to register. You are relying on user generated content to create your site and generate traffic. Right now, there are a large number of steps required to post a review. That process is going to lose users. Consider combining review and registration sending a confirmation link to make it live.

Consider that you have two very different groups of users - (a)want to create a review, and (b)want to read reviews and perspectives.

You might like to consider integrating reviews from 1st & 2nd year students. Many choose to change courses or focus for different reasons and these decisions are very interesting.

Google offer $50 free adwords from time to time and you could use that as a start to advertise 'review your uni' and see how many bites you get.

The review process has to be really really easy unless the motivation is very strong. If you hung around outside various buildings at Uni with a laptop excel form and paid $5 per review that could give you a good start on some content; ).

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  Reply # 626972 17-May-2012 17:40 Send private message

I would think about incorporating different subject areas. I do a BSc in geography & economics, and coming into the uni I wouldnt care so much about the college of science or business, but the department of economics and of geography (both of which are awesome btw!).
Doing it by course (IMHO) limits you to those taking professional degrees - e.g. Law, Eng, Med, Speech therapy, teaching, and doesnt offer much for the bulk of students, who take a range of papers.
I realise that all of this is easier said than done, but I know for me, that the site in its present form wouldnt have been useful for my choice of uni.

Site looks sharp, youve clearly put a lot of effort in up to this point!

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  Reply # 627004 17-May-2012 18:44 Send private message

Have you got permission from them to use their logos. eg the photos on the bottom of the website. Are you also checking the reviews before they go online so they are accurate.



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  Reply # 627809 19-May-2012 22:18 Send private message

Thanks for all the feedback so far!

I agree gzt that adding a review isn't easy enough currently. I'm now looking into removing the requirement to register to add a review. Users would just be requried to give their email address and then they can start reviewing. The option of registering would still be there for those who want to.

I see what you mean about the logo but I dont have a lot of money to put into the site at the moment. However in a few months time hopefully I could look at getting a Graphic Designer to come up with something better. And I will block some of those ad categories!

Going to look into Adwords over the next few days, definitely seems like a good method to promote the site. I'm not in NZ at the moment so I'm unable to visit any of the Uni's to get students to sign up and add reviews. Another option I was thinking of was running a competition on the Facebook page.

Yes the images are ok to use. As for checking the reviews, once someone makes a submission it won't appear on the website until I've reviewed it.

Nick, I carried out research on this before setting up the site. I had the option to allow people to either review their degrees or their subjects and the majority opted for their degree. I've spent a lot of time trying to identify the best way of providing information for students with detailed reviews and at the moment what I have on the site was the best I could come up with. However if you have any suggestions as to how I could improve it to include fields that you think would have benefited you then I'd really appreciate some more feedback!



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  Reply # 628025 20-May-2012 19:20 Send private message

I've now updated the review process. You no longer need to register. Once you chose to add a review for a particular course all you have to do I give an email address and and a screen name to be able to submit the review. Would like to hear people's opinions on this change!

gzt

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  Reply # 628034 20-May-2012 19:43 Send private message

Brian24: I've now updated the review process. You no longer need to register. Once you chose to add a review for a particular course all you have to do I give an email address and and a screen name to be able to submit the review. Would like to hear people's opinions on this change!


It is good. But the four steps required before landing on the review page are still a killer. One solution for that is landing on the review page with one click and using a drop down series to select the institution and course.

Also I would suggest disabling advertising until the site is running. It is very distracting.

The site does not look good even in my 1900x1200 monitor. A lot of scrolling is required, this is not a good thing.

A simple fix you might like to try - remove the Know The Course graphic to give more room for the content. Use the Know the Course graphic on the front page in place of the clip art you currently have.

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  Reply # 628042 20-May-2012 20:04 Send private message

What a great idea, but I agree the "Know the course" graphic up the top is quite large and distracting.




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  Reply # 628055 20-May-2012 20:45 Send private message

- as I presume your audience in New Zealanders (with a .nz domain name) your hosting outside NZ makes the website seem quite slow from New Zealand (Compared to hosting it inside NZ). Also you name servers are not in NZ which slows down the initial lookup of your domain.

- The Domain Owner (as specified in whois) is "WhatCollege" which I presume is not an individual or a identifiable organization (you might want to get this fixed). Check .NZ domain rules . Your physical address is not a correct address. As I work at a .NZ Registrar I see what troubles this causes if there is any dispute on the ownership of the domain.

- The Important information etc which describes what your website is all about is "below the fold" and people have to scroll down to actually read it. The "Know the Course" big logo is really not needed up the top. If someone can't understand what the website is all about without scrolling they won't come again and leave without investigating it more.

- You are loading LOTS of separate css files and javascript files.. + inline css/javascript.. Can't you reduce this as most browsers can only load 4 files in parallel at a time per domain and they have to wait until each of them finish. It is loading 114 separate files on the 1st page!

- The Stock art photos up the top look just don't match the rest of the site.. they are well "too perfect and sharp" and look like they are just taken from a template . they are HUGE in size as well





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  Reply # 628576 21-May-2012 21:01 Send private message

gzt: It is good. But the four steps required before landing on the review page are still a killer. One solution for that is landing on the review page with one click and using a drop down series to select the institution and course.


I'm actually already working on something like this! On menubar you will see a link to "Write a Review". At the moment this just links to a page similar to the "Find Uni" page. However it will eventually have drop down menus for Universities and courses followed by the review fields. Its just proving slow and difficult to implement at the moment.

gzt: Also I would suggest disabling advertising until the site is running. It is very distracting.


Yes, I will consider this. The only reason I had the ads in already was because I didnt want to midlead people who use the site by putting ads once I start getting a lot of traffic. The site isnt about making money, as long as I can cover costs and time dedicated to the site I'll be happy. And at the moment ads are the only way I can really do this.

gzt: A simple fix you might like to try - remove the Know The Course graphic to give more room for the content. Use the Know the Course graphic on the front page in place of the clip art you currently have.

ChevronX: What a great idea, but I agree the "Know the course" graphic up the top is quite large and distracting.


It seems everyone agrees the logo doesnt work! Trying a few different things now to see what looks best.



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Geek


  Reply # 628597 21-May-2012 21:31 Send private message

LennonNZ: - as I presume your audience in New Zealanders (with a .nz domain name) your hosting outside NZ makes the website seem quite slow from New Zealand (Compared to hosting it inside NZ). Also you name servers are not in NZ which slows down the initial lookup of your domain.

- The Domain Owner (as specified in whois) is "WhatCollege" which I presume is not an individual or a identifiable organization (you might want to get this fixed). Check .NZ domain rules . Your physical address is not a correct address. As I work at a .NZ Registrar I see what troubles this causes if there is any dispute on the ownership of the domain.

- The Important information etc which describes what your website is all about is "below the fold" and people have to scroll down to actually read it. The "Know the Course" big logo is really not needed up the top. If someone can't understand what the website is all about without scrolling they won't come again and leave without investigating it more.

- You are loading LOTS of separate css files and javascript files.. + inline css/javascript.. Can't you reduce this as most browsers can only load 4 files in parallel at a time per domain and they have to wait until each of them finish. It is loading 114 separate files on the 1st page!

- The Stock art photos up the top look just don't match the rest of the site.. they are well "too perfect and sharp" and look like they are just taken from a template . they are HUGE in size as well


Thanks for the relpy LennonNZ. I'm actually currently based in Ireland and I used a company here to provide the hosting. They assured me that there would be no issues with using them for hosting even though my audience is in NZ. Is it very slow for you?

WhatCollege was the original name I reserved for the website. It's no longer valid and I think I've removed all references to it (replacing it with my own name) on my hosting account. With this information updated should everything be ok regarding the domain?

Thanks also for the feedback on the homepage. As mentioned in my previous post Im looking into improving this now! Regarding the css and javascript files, I am going to try and get some help to reduce these.

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  Reply # 628599 21-May-2012 21:39 Send private message

Food for thought & ideas.

www.collegeprowler.com

I used this fairly extensively a while back.

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  Reply # 628614 21-May-2012 22:00 Send private message

The website is very slow tonight even from the states where I have tested it.. taking 30 seconds to load all the images etc.. in New Zealand its a little faster now but still "slow"

Check http://www.webpagetest.org/result/120521_Y7_8D0/ and you can see how slow it was when I did 1 test.

The whois details still show the below. You should contact your Domain Registrar and get them fixed. (i.e. your real name or identifiable company name) and the Address should be your real one as well.

registrant_contact_name: WhatCollege
registrant_contact_address1: Rossbeg
registrant_contact_city: Co. Roscommon
registrant_contact_province: Co. Roscommon
registrant_contact_postalcode: 00000
registrant_contact_country: IE (IRELAND)
registrant_contact_phone: <removed>
registrant_contact_email: [email protected]

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  Reply # 628618 21-May-2012 22:05 Send private message

LennonNZ: The website is very slow tonight even from the states where I have tested it.. taking 30 seconds to load all the images etc.. in New Zealand its a little faster now but still "slow"

Check http://www.webpagetest.org/result/120521_Y7_8D0/ and you can see how slow it was when I did 1 test.

The whois details still show the below. You should contact your Domain Registrar and get them fixed. (i.e. your real name or identifiable company name) and the Address should be your real one as well.

registrant_contact_name: WhatCollege
registrant_contact_address1: Rossbeg
registrant_contact_city: Co. Roscommon
registrant_contact_province: Co. Roscommon
registrant_contact_postalcode: 00000
registrant_contact_country: IE (IRELAND)
registrant_contact_phone: +353 86 8831037
registrant_contact_email: [email protected]



It is possibly on an overloaded cheap shared web hosting account, which will affect page loading speed. Using something like cloud flare may help, but moving to higher quality hosting may also help.

gzt

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  Reply # 628863 22-May-2012 11:38 Send private message

Brian24:
gzt: It is good. But the four steps required before landing on the review page are still a killer. One solution for that is landing on the review page with one click and using a drop down series to select the institution and course.


I'm actually already working on something like this! On menubar you will see a link to "Write a Review". At the moment this just links to a page similar to the "Find Uni" page. However it will eventually have drop down menus for Universities and courses followed by the review fields. Its just proving slow and difficult to implement at the moment.

gzt: Also I would suggest disabling advertising until the site is running. It is very distracting.


Yes, I will consider this. The only reason I had the ads in already was because I didnt want to midlead people who use the site by putting ads once I start getting a lot of traffic. The site isnt about making money, as long as I can cover costs and time dedicated to the site I'll be happy. And at the moment ads are the only way I can really do this.

gzt: A simple fix you might like to try - remove the Know The Course graphic to give more room for the content. Use the Know the Course graphic on the front page in place of the clip art you currently have.

ChevronX: What a great idea, but I agree the "Know the course" graphic up the top is quite large and distracting.


It seems everyone agrees the logo doesnt work! Trying a few different things now to see what looks best.


Hey, that's cool. You are making good progress. It would not be misleading to include ads later, initially you have very little content so the ads really stand out and scare off potential users. Your biggest challenge is getting new content - the site needs to be oriented towards that challenge initially.

It is normal for a site to be redesigned several times as it goes through different growth phases and as the business model changes. The important thing is to design for the phase you are in now.



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  Reply # 633048 31-May-2012 08:08 Send private message

Been busy the past week and haven't had much time to work on the site. Over the next week hopeful I'll be able to get the changes made that I've taken from all the feedback above!

One more thing I meant to ask; what people's opinions on the name of the site? Do you like it? Do you think it works?

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