The Lumberjack student newspaper
Graphic by Valen Lambert.

A billboard badly done beyond all believable bounds


by  Dezmond Remington

I wish I could start this article with a funny anecdote about a billboard I once saw somewhere. I wish I could remember something about the giant ads on the side of the road that beg for your dollar with flaking stock photos of smiling people, content with their decisions to consume product X. That would make an incredible comparison to Cal Poly Humboldt’s website, but the problem is that they’re both too boring and too similar for it to even be clever. 

The fonts are huge. The slogans are worn and used. It’s completely uninformative, incredibly boring, and entirely useless. It’s a 2.5 second elevator pitch meant for the uninitiated, the outsiders. What’s the real difference between a beer ad featuring a picture of a frosty bottle 12 feet tall and a glamor shot of a redwood on campus? 

The website as it is designed now is simply the front-facing outlet for the administration’s constant hunger for more; more money, more students, more buildings, a Moloch filled with an evil lust. Very little is there for the current students, unless they figure out how to navigate its byzantine backrooms. Want an easy answer for when tuition is due? Good luck. How about some information about major requirements or how scholarships are processed? Have fun banging your head on your desk after searching relentlessly for an hour for an easy answer. How do I add a minor? Go fuck yourself. 

The answers to so many really important questions aren’t on the website at all, as I’ve found out too many times, but trapped in the heads of some advisor I didn’t even know I had or a luddite department chair with an allergy to answering emails. Instead of taking the time to make a well-linked, easy to use website with simple answers to common questions for students, the website is filled with factoids about platitudes such as how many alumni graduate with practical experience or how strong the campus community is. Who cares? Whoever designed the damned thing made it really easy to find information about energy-saving programs that have long since gone broke or their supposed commitment to “inclusive excellence,” but not crucial need-to-know things for, say, disabled students or people here on a WUE scholarship. 

If the website had simply always been this way, maybe there would be an excuse. Maybe it got grandfathered in, unable to face the challenges of a polytechnic with a lot of outside interest to the tune of over 20,000 applicants for this fall semester. However, it got redone this year, with brand-new typefaces and different photos, updated housing pages and a clearer “Purpose and Vision” page, whatever that means. Current students were not consulted on what they would have liked done with it outside of purely aesthetic choices, buried in a survey launched in one of dozens of official emails most students get. 

It’s sad. It would be so nice if it was completely redesigned, with actual input from students beyond simple feedback on logos designed by East Coast marketing firms. There should be a focus on making the important stuff people want to know very clear. The website should function beyond mere solicitation. I hope there’s a push to change that. Make the big paragraph on the homepage claiming to “help you find the answers” true.

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