Ewha’s Web site ranked first place along with the University of Ulsan and Kyonggi University in a survey conducted by Sookmyung Women’s University. The survey evaluated 195 Korean college Web sites using Sookmyung’s newly invented “SME.WAU 2.1,” a program uniquely designed for assessing Web site accessibility and usability. The program awards a total of 100 points; 40 points allotted for Web accessibility and 60 points for usability. Ewha scored a total of 92 points.
The research team “U-Gov/U-Biz,” led by Professor Moon Hyung-nam (Sookmyung Women’s University) was first established in 2003 as a professional Web site evaluation institution. The team has been conducting several research projects that evaluate administrative and governmental websites.
“Web sites that primarily served to provide information have transformed themselves into a two-way communication channel,” said Moon. “I decided to conduct this research in order to assess how efficiently colleges have been using this communication tool. The results showed us that colleges need serious improvements in many areas, especially in Web accessibility.”
Web accessibility refers to the practice of making Web sites usable by people of all abilities and disabilities. For example, allowing blind users to have equal access to information and functions by using text-to-speech software. In this category, Sungkyunkwan University and two other schools ranked first place with 38 points whereas Ewha scored 32 points.
“In case of Sungkyunkwan University, it had a well structured Web site for disabled students. For instance, the size and the color of the text could be changed, making it easy for users with poor sight or color blindness to read and understand the content. Moreover, clickable links and areas were large helping users who could not control a mouse with precision. Compared to Sungkyunkwan University, Ewha, which lacked most of the aspects mentioned above, was less handicap-friendly,” said Moon. “If Ewha puts more effort in making the Web site more user friendly for handicapped students, Ewha will be able to enhance their Web accessibility.”
Ewha’s official Web site (www.ewha.ac.kr), which was first established in 2004, has been “fairly well maintained until now.” Yet, there is still room for improvement, which are said to be currently taking place.
“We feel unfortunate that we received a relatively low score on Web accessibility. We are planning on renovating the current Web site by creating a separate page for blind students, which will be accessible starting this fall semester,” said a representative from the Office of Public Relations (OPR) who is in charge of managing the current Web site.
Unlike Web accessibility, Web usability refers to the structure of the Web site that is made for the users to find information quickly and efficiently. Ewha and five other schools received a perfect mark of 60 points in this category.
“In terms of Web usability, we normally assess the navigation, download speed, information retrieval and user control,” said Moon. “Ewha's layout was easy for the users to navigate the Web page, download quickly and retrieve information easily. Because of these aspects, Ewha was able to receive a full mark in Web usability.”
Ewha’s OPR has been working on several projects to further improve the current Web site, including the above mentioned site for blind students, Web pages in Japanese and Chinese, a slight change in the overall design, an enhancement of the content and an update of the English Web page.
By Hong Jee-won