One question asked by many students is if we are the best Students’ Union in the country, why don’t we have a website to match?
From paying hall subs, voting in elections, checking the latest Exec meeting minutes or checking out the discipline policy, the LSU website should be an essential hub for many students. Yet, this is far from the experience of many.
Executive members struggle to use the site for news articles (most prioritising posts on Facebook), Societies and Halls mainly use the page to send visitors to external sites and navigation is tough even for those well versed in the ways of LSU. Each previous LSU Executive team have attempted to make changes to the website, with the outcome usually only a skin change. Executive members have in the past described the website as “unacceptable”.
The issues with the website are amplified when the website is accessed from a non-desktop device. The current website seems to be unaware it’s 2015 and that over 40% of all visits to the website are on mobile. A comparison with the main Loughborough University website is staggering.
Many students have found the entertainments & events section of the website is incredibly difficult to use. Although students use social media, and that is one thing LSU is making better use of, many students do spend a lot of their time online, and a good social media presence can only be effective if coupled with a solid platform behind it. Students have pointed out that “Posters around the Union identifying future events just don’t cut it any more.”
A website review held in June/July 2015 pointed out clear improvements and since then some have been made. Searching has been made easier, the use of Adobe Flash has been reduced and the menu has been restructured.
The website is powered by Membership Solutions Limited (MSL), the same system many Students’ Unions in the country use. It’s used as an entire Customer Relationship Manager as well as the power behind the website. Other SU’s websites such as Leeds University Union and Warwick SU are powered by the same system but are stylish and easy to use. The problem has not been with MSL.
Recently talks with MSL led by Max Crawford, VP Union Affairs (previously called VP: Democracy & Communication) have concluded that LSU will invest £3,000 in core features being redeveloped and the website will be made mobile device friendly. Some have suggested this is a large sum, but is nothing when compared to the Union’s Total Incoming Funds of £10,662,557 in 2013/14.
What are the biggest things you’d like to see change in your LSU website? Feel free to add your thoughts below and tweet us @LabelOnline.