A High School Senior’s Advice for University Websites

Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

It feels like my high school senior and I have digested hundreds of university websites in the last two years in the quest to find her “perfect school”. She’s finally settled on one (GO WILDCATS!) and with that decision made, I recently asked her suggestion on a university website feature that really was helpful or stood out to her during her epic search. She thought for several minutes and then came back to me with this: “There were so many features that were the same from school to school, but the very best school websites used just one id and password to access all of the different sections of the site– application, email, registration, forms, etc.”

After working with Beacon on dozens of university websites with amazing features like campus tours, photo galleries and other interactive components, I was so shocked to hear that this essentially administrative function stood out to her.  I report this with a little trepidation because I know that my dear university webmaster friends that are reading this will now be shaking their heads with the booming phrase “single sign-on” echoing loudly.

Though it sounds perfectly simple to my high school senior (and her father, the definition of luddite), I know the technical details behind this endeavor can seem intractable and in some cases highly expensive in both time and budget.  In fact, I hesitated to even write this blog with her recommendation because of the complexity of this task.  But I do think it is worth noting that this seemingly inconsequential user experience stood out.  Of course every school is different in their disparate systems and databases and this may not have the ROI of other high profile projects, but I’ll tell you that I’ll soon be writing a $40,000 tuition check to one of the schools that had a unified website sign-on system in place.  Just sayin’!

Please share your experiences with university single-sign below!  Did your school successfully implement such a system?  What software and/or tools were most helpful in the project?  What applications did the system tie together?  What was the feedback from the campus community?  If you are considering this process but haven’t yet begun, what is holding you back?  Hopefully we can all benefit from these hands-on experiences!