[xkcd] University Websites


xkcd – By Randall Munroe – http://xkcd.com



Things on the front page of a university website:

  • Full name of school
  • campus photo slide-show
  • Alumni in the news
  • Promotions for campus events
  • Press releases
  • Statement of the school’s philosophy
  • Letter from the president
  • Virtual tour

Things people go to the site looking for:

  • Full name of school
  • List of faculty phone numbers and emails
  • Campus address
  • Application forms
  • Academic calendar
  • Campus police phone number
  • Department / course lists
  • Parking information
  • Usable campus map


  • Front page (n. phrase): the first page you arrive on when visiting a website
  • Slide-show  (n.) /slaɪd ʃoʊ/: when a computer shows several different photographs one after another on a screen
  • Alumni (/əˈlʌm.naɪ/ plural) alumnus (/əˈlʌm.nəs/ singular) (n.) someone who has left a school, college, or university after finishing their studies there
  • Promotion (n.) /prəˈməʊ.ʃən/activities to advertise something
  • Press release (n.) a public statement given to the press to publish if they wish
  • Statement of the school’s philosophy (noun phrase) a text to describe the philosophy of the school to explain what they believe in, etc.
  • Virtual (adj.) /ˈvɜː.tju.əl/: done or seen using a computer (without going anywhere)
  • Tour (n.) /tʊər/ a visit to a place or area, especially when you look round the place or area and learn about it
  • Site (n.) /saɪt/same as website
  • Academic calendar (n. phrase) the calendar of the school indicating when school starts, which days are off, when the holidays start, etc.


  • Since there is only “full name of school” in the common category, this comic is making fun of the fact that there is a big difference between what universities promote on their website and what users look for when they go on the website of the university. Universities generally try to promote things that will make the university look good; while people who visit the website are usually looking for practical information.
  • You will probably find this comic strip quite funny if you yourself have been in the situation when you go on a university’s website to look for something listed on the right side to only see on the website what’s listed on the left side.
  • This presentation format with the circles is called a “Venn diagram.” This is a practical way to efficiently present information.


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