With the rise of the internet, universities have come to place a heavy emphasis in online presence, whether it takes the form of social media accounts, institutional webpages or increasing engagement through online spaces. And far as websites are concerned, I believe Gonzaga University overall has a solid grasp on quality design, functionality and user- experience.
So, it’s certainly a disappointment when one encounters a weak link in the chain that comprises GU’s online resources for students. It casts further into focus when compared to how smoothly other GU internet opportunities function.
When considering a GU website that qualifies as the objective weak link due to shortcomings in respect to its organization, ease of use and access to information—one specific GU webpage takes the proverbial “cake”—the beast of a student extracurricular activities resource homepage otherwise known as “Zagtivities.”
"Zagtivities," taken conceptually, is a thrilling prospect. One “hub” type of website containing detailed information regarding all of GU’s extracurricular involvement opportunities including events, clubs and organizations. It’s within the execution and delivery of the concept that issues begin to pop up—the perfect idea of peak student engagement falters as difficulties chip away at the possibilities.
Accessing information on Zagtivities is challenging at the very least. The search function is helpful, but without knowing exactly what organization or form you need, finding any relevant materials you’re looking becomes tricky.
This is compounded by a bloat of outdated information that litters the webpage.
Clubs that are now completely defunct, left abandoned in a paperwork limbo for years still take up space within the database for extracurricular organizations. Forms and paperwork associated with these groups also still exist on the webpage, further cluttering an already busy space.
Once you’ve located the organization or club you’re looking for, reaching out becomes an ordeal unto itself. If there is no direct email or phone number listed for the group (which often there isn’t) you’re directed to a contact form within Zagtivities—which is clunky at the very best.
Having found a club, contacted those involved and begun searching for events to participate in, Zagtivities is happy to throw another curveball your direction— the upcoming events page. While being allowed to filter by category, upcoming campus events are not able to be sorted by time or club.
While that sounds harmless at first it quickly gives rise to an issue when considering that all upcoming events for the semester are listed out.
Three-hundred-and-twelve total events make up this semesters’ lineup and sprinkled in among them are different club specific events that—while completely relevant—further dilute information that would be crucial to the average Zagtivities user.
There remains a laundry list more minor issues with Zagtivities that can be addressed such as the confusing “forms” tab, troubles with submitting documentation, information given zero context such as the “campus links” tab, among other things. However, despite its’ many shortcomings, to me, Zagtivities remains an important part of the GU experience.
With the right guidance from quality people at GU, working with Zagtivities can go from a hair- tearing, computer-flinging exercise in the limits of frustration to a simple process of inputting your information and accessing what you need.
It’s our flaws that make us human—perfection is boring, and I’d much rather have a little struggle if it means that the connections I make are that much richer for it. In my mind Zagtivities is the struggle part of this larger idea within our collective experience.
Every rose has its thorn, and if the biggest thorn on the roses at GU is a tussle with Zagtivities, I’m more than happy to stop and smell them.