Ranking all eight official Ivy team websites

When is a website not just a website?

When it’s a NCAA college athletics department’s official website.

Think about it. If you’re a high school recruit checking out a college school athletics scene for the first time, that website better be easy to navigate. What is this team’s history? How do I fill out their recruiting questionnaire? Do they have summer basketball camps? Does their athletics staff know how to craft an aesthetically pleasing website? (If it’s Cornell, the answer to the latter question is no.)

And you know what? The same questions apply to Ivy hoops bloggers! Certainly, when I was a sportswriter at The Daily Pennsylvanian, I checked out the official Ivy team websites every day and got used to their quirks and designs. In fact, when Penn Athletics updated its site in 2013, it made me appreciate the work that goes into streamlining these webpages, updating the information that needs to be routinely updated for recruits, alumni, journalists and students alike.

The thing is, some Ivies have better websites than others. The Ancient Eight official men’s basketball webpages, ranked:

  1. Yale

Blah. The most recent articles read like a blog from the early 2000s and the centerpiece photo is a small, vertical still that suffers from an unsightly lack of width. One has to stroll much too far to get to its live stats, donation information, audio broadcasts and more. Worst of all, clicking on general campus photos under its photo gallery section brings up an invalid request page. Ugh.

  1. Cornell

Cornell’s website takes me back to when NBCNews.com disastrously relaunched its website in February 2014. The massive blocks of images took attention away from headline text and other written content to the point that it felt like sifting through ginormous images rather than scrolling through actual news.  By June, the network was already extensively retooling the site due to consistently negative user feedback.

Bill Courtney aside, it’s a good thing Cornell Athletics doesn’t get as much scrutiny as NBC News. The men’s hoops webpage shows only the top half of an outrageously huge gallery of rotating feature photos, so you have to scroll down to even comprehend what you’re looking at. So awkward, so unnecessary. Also, the all-time win-loss records in the history section are shoved to the far right of the screen, and unlike most Ivy websites, are not available in a more easily readable PDF format. (Is Cornell trying to hide how terrible it’s been for much of its conference history?)

Get with it, Big Red.

  1. Columbia

Columbia’s trying to be too cute here. White background fades awkwardly into the homepage’s main slides.  Also, a disproportionate amount of each page is taken up by ad space relative to other Ivy athletics websites. I don’t know where to find recruiting questionnaires from the homepage, but I know I can stay connected to campus at the Aloft Harlem Hotel!

  1. Dartmouth

What, no video from the homepage? (launch player doesn’t count, and neither does the separate audio/video tab) Better than usual photos, though.

  1. Harvard

Meh. The video landing area on the homepage is much too large – not quite Cornell-sized, but still too big. The tabs on top of the page are useful and organized well, but the video landing area’s tabs are hidden on the right when they would be more prominent right underneath the main page tabs.

  1. Brown

Very cool interactive guide featuring the program’s history, community service record, athletic facilities, etc.  From schedule and statistics up top to newsletter sign-up and recruiting questionnaires on the side, everything is just where it should be.

  1. Penn

Tabs at the top of the homepage slideshow are prominent but not intrusive. The launch player area is unnecessary but photos are perfectly sized. Everything from women’s lacrosse rosters to Penn Quakers sweatshirts are just a click away thanks to the all-purpose “sports” link.

  1. Princeton

One can easily switch between news pieces, six of which are accessible from the homepage. Princeton boasts the same hover-over “sports” section as Penn Athletics but also features side tabs to the highly entertaining TigerBlog, live stats and much more. Aesthetically pleasing and highly functional. Princeton wins!

5 thoughts on “Ranking all eight official Ivy team websites

  1. Interesting ranking of school websites. Here’s another entertaining ranking which has been floating around the internet for a few years, mostly on college admission message boards.

    Okay, let’’s forget about educational quality, graduation rates, student happiness, suicide rates, alumni giving and US News rankings. Instead, let’’s focus on what’’s really important. For the rest of your life, people will ask you where you went to college.

    What sounds best as your response? I don’’t mean what’’s most impressive from the standpoint of prestige. There are enough other threads on this board about that unimportant stuff. Instead, I mean what SOUNDS best? What is going to be pleasant coming out of your mouth? You’’re going to be saying this word a lot for a long, long time. It should at least sound good.

    Here are the eight Ivy League colleges ranked phonetically.

    8. BROWN

    I’’m sorry. The short, blunt sound. The soft ““br”” consonant and the round ““ow”” diphthong vowel. This is the clear loser in the Ivy League. “Brown” is also hurt by the fact that it’’s a color — the fact that the color is an unattractive one — the fact that the unattractive color is associated with a personal human function. I mean, if the school in Providence were called “Aqua” or “Chartreuse,” that would be awesome. But “Brown” just doesn’’t cut it.

    7. PENN

    From a phonetic standpoint, all the one-syllable schools are at a disadvantage. Just too curt. Brusque. If you weren’’t paying attention, you’’d miss them entirely. “Penn” ranks above “Brown” because it’’s not a color, but it’’s still hurt by the fact that it’’s a word. And a pedestrian word at that. Any word for an object that people don’’t really mind losing does not connote value. The folks in West Philadelphia have long complained about the confusion with Penn State. I say it’’s time for an upgrade. Let’’s go for two syllables. Why not aim for the top? Rename it “Porsche.”

    6. YALE

    By far the best of the one-syllable names by virtue of the fact that it’’s not also a word. But starting off with a ““y”” is not as sharp as, you know, a real consonant. “Yale” almost sounds like half of a name. Now “Vail” or “Shale” would sound cool. Even “Bail” has a certain positive tough guy sound. Sadly, “Yale” doesn’’t get there.

    5. COLUMBIA

    A huge step up from the one-syllable names but “Columbia” almost goes too far. It’’s so long that it almost sounds like a sentence. How about this exchange? “”What did you do last night, Bob?”” ““Columbia.”” ““I see.”” But it does have a certain flowing, almost mellifluous quality. Like I said, “Columbia” draws the dividing line between the bad Ivy names and the good Ivy names, and it’’s on the good side of the line.

    4. CORNELL

    Now you’’re starting to get to the high rent district. The two-syllable names are long enough to have a personality but still short enough to be strong and powerful. But ““Corn”” is a weak way to start off the name. Again, a bit too pedestrian. Suggests “Soybean” or “Wheat.” Neither of these two would be a good name for a university.

    3. HARVARD

    Some people consider HYP to be the Big Three, and therefore Harvard is a two-time winner. It’’s also in the Phonetic Big Three. The “”v”” is a unique, clearly identifying consonant. However, like the round “”ow”” sound in “Brown,” “Harvard” is hurt a bit by the round ““ar”” vowel. Not just once, but twice. And don’’t even get me started about pronouncing it with a Boston accent. But still no apologies for “Harvard.” A distinctive, strong sounding name.

    2. DARTMOUTH

    Extremely difficult to differentiate among the Phonetic Big Three. The “”d”” is an excellent, sharp consonant to start off with. The “”t”” is also a superb ending consonant. Very resonant. Trails off after that, though, to the slightly weaker ““mouth”” at the end. Not a great sound, especially the way it’’s pronounced “”meth”” in this context. But overall, ranks right up there.

    1. PRINCETON

    Ladies and gentlemen, your winner. A very close call over “Dartmouth” and “Harvard.” But gets the nod due to the strong starting ““Pr”” consonant package and because ““ton”” is the sharpest and best of all the two-syllable names’’ second halves. Bonus points because “Prince,” like its namesake, simply sounds regal. There’’s a reason “The Princeton Review” is not called “The Brown Review.” Crisp, clean and refreshing, “Princeton” has it all.

    • Love this! And I agree for the most part with your rankings too. “Princeton” and “Dartmouth” roll crisply off the tongue, don’t they? Your writeup for Brown at the other end of the spectrum really says it all. Good stuff.

    • I personally know the founder of The Princeton Review and he agrees with your assessment. (Why shouldn’t he, it worked out pretty well for him.)

      Well done.
      The AQ

  2. Ken Pomeroy recently wrote: “Among the factors of lesser significance in the power rankings are a. quality of athletic department website, and b. strength of school name vis a vis other schools in its conference.” The 2014-15 Tigers demonstrate why.

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