Science - December 8, 2005

Visitors lose way on new site

The new Wageningen UR website went online last Thursday 1 December and the search engine seems to be the weak point. Outsiders have a difficult time finding Wageningen scientists and publications.

Employees and students at Wageningen UR can still find their colleagues, through the intranet. But an outsider who wants to know what research is done at the Nature Conservation group for example will not get to the group’s site by typing the name in the search engine. Instead they will be faced with a page on the open day for Animal Sciences and a publication on ABC transporter proteins. A Google search, on the other hand, takes you immediately to a relevant page.

Searching for people within Wageningen UR is a different problem. The advanced search engine works with the We@wur system. The good thing about this is that, in addition to address information, there is also a photo and information on the expertise of the employee being searched for. The problem is though that over half of the personnel cannot be found using the search engine. In many cases this is because members of staff should have indicated that they wanted their personal data placing on the site.

For many personnel at Wageningen UR the site is still a maze. Gerard Straver works at the wetenschapswinkel and often used the old site. Now he’s lost the way. ‘It’s very inconvenient, but to be honest, I’m too busy to really go into the new site at the moment. I need to be able to refer people to the right information. I can’t do this with the new site, so I’m looking for other ways to do this. Once it’s quieter I shall look at the site more closely.’

Kristel Klein, project leader for the new website, says that there were a few teething troubles during the first days, but most have them have already been solved. ‘It’s an enormous website; some things always go wrong.’ Klein does not think the problems indicate that the site was launched too hastily. ‘A few months more would not have made the difference. We tested the site extensively on sixteen people, but it’s only once you really know what the problems are.’

The new director of Communication, Viola Peulen, is happy with the new website. ‘It’s certainly better than the previous one. It’s a nuisance that a few things went wrong. We are happy to receive feedback so we can make further improvements to the site.’ / KV

Re:act