I’m attending the 10th CAFIC International Conference on the theme “Intercultural Communication for a Harmonious World: Challenges and Opportunities." I’ll be presenting a paper, co-authored by my boss at Tsinghua, Chen Hong, Director of the Overseas Promotion Department, titled “Building a Better English Website for Chinese Universities” based on research I conducted while working there in 2011.
An English version website plays an important role for introducing Chinese universities to the western world. Based on their experience, the authors compare the websites of both Chinese universities and top universities in western countries. The analysis and suggestions made within this paper include utilizing Information Architecture to design university homepages, the arrangement of columns and main contents to maximize functionality and improve the user experience and university interface.
Information overload challenges academia to maintain future research goals in an environment where no one person, or department, can say they know everything about a topic or discipline. The sheer volume of new, un-processed information is incalculable. Scientific papers are submitted to database registries at a rate greater than a paper a minute. Institutions who grasp the importance of structuring their intra-internet networks and webs for the facilitation of the sharing and accessing of information through information architecture principles will be masters of research, within their own organization and without, in the global marketplace of ideas.
Based on data of 28 global universities, seven Chinese universities’ English version websites were studied and analyzed using tenets of Information Architecture. Results of this analysis impact the competiveness of Chinese universities in managing digital information for research and collaboration purposes in the global marketplace of ideas.
Objective and subjective data was collected, collated, averaged and ranked across four regional categories: Chinese, Asian, European, and American, with seven top ranked universities selected to represent their regions.
Appearance was broken down into several quantifiable traits. Functionality was analyzed across a comprehensive list of traits. The resulting database contained approximately 392 trait categories, and 40 levels of data for a total of more than 15,000 fields.
In conclusion, Chinese universities’ Chinese language sites are rich with information and features while ignoring the potential of their English version sites.
CAFIC 2013 Building a Better English Website for Chinese Universities (full length inc appendix)
Better English Website PowerPoint presentation to accompany paper
Biographical information Cheryl Petty, CHEN Hong