A new survey just released by Georgetown University ranks Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s website 13th among the 200 law school websites included in the study, an improvement from last year’s ranking at 35th in the nation. This is the third year that Georgetown has evaluated ABA-accredited law school home pages, using objective criteria in order to find the best sites. The results are published in The Top 10 Law School Home Pages of 2011.
James Cooper, TJSL’s Chief Information Officer, says there was a strategy that went into the improvement of the website. “In order to plan the new website, we first looked at what was wrong with the old one,” said Cooper. “Our measuring stick was Google Analytics to show us what parts of the website were working well and what parts weren’t.”
Based on the Google Analytics, Cooper and his team created a navigation architecture that made content accessible to those visiting the site - potential students, the educational and legal communities and our peers. Additionally, the team looked at the actual design of the site, wanting a more modern and easier-to-use layout.
For the 2011 survey, 24 elements were assessed across three broad categories: Design Patterns & Metadata; Accessibility & Validation; and Marketing & Communications. TJSL received a perfect score in the Marketing and Communications category, which credited the website with having a strong presence of social media links, news headlines and thumbnail images, among other content.
Cooper notes that a good website means “being able to author good content easily, including multi-media for users and making the site appealing and clear so they want to use and easily find the information they are seeking.”
The website, which was launched in late 2010, is constantly updated with new content and sections by the Communications Department working with assistance from the Information Technology Department. TJSL Art Director Sherwin Laranga and TJSL Web Application Developer Patty Ramert built and designed the website under Cooper’s direction.
Ramert is confident that TJSL can make it within the top ten and is hopeful for making the top five for next year’s study. “The ultimate goal is to make it to number one, but it will be tough,” says Ramert. “This report comes out every year and other schools will update their sites for criteria missed as well.”
She also notes that many of the changes and improvements to the TJSL website will take time. However, she and Cooper assure that TJSL is following the best practices of website design, which is evidenced by this new ranking of 13th out of the 200 law schools surveyed.
The new study can be downloaded free of charge from: http://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/745