The 200+ Best Law School Websites

Where To Begin

If you’ve ever considered applying to law school, you’ve probably done a bit of online browsing to see which school looks like the best fit for you. But, like most things, not all websites are created equal. There are definitely some that are better than others.

How do you decide what to take into account when figuring out which website is best? Rather than being purely up to one person’s opinion, we’ll let Jason Eiseman of Yale University and Roger V. Skalbeck of Georgetown University Law Center show us the way. Here’s the abstract of their exhaustive 29-page research:

This ranking report attempts to identify the best law school home pages based exclusively on objective criteria. The goal is to assess elements that make websites easier to use for sighted as well as visually-impaired users. Most elements require no special design skills, sophisticated technology or significant expenses.

Ranking results in this report represent reasonably relevant elements. In this report, 200 ABA-accredited law school home pages are analyzed and ranked for twenty elements in three broad categories: Design Patters & Metadata; Accessibility & Validation; and Marketing & Communications. As was the case in 2009, there is still no objective way to account for good taste. For interpreting these results, we don’t try to decide if any whole is greater or less than the sum of its parts. 2

What Matters

Here’s what Eisman and Skalbeck came up with in terms of criteria by which to judge websites. You can read more about each topic and also learn how many points were associated to each criterion by downloading the paper here (PDF).

  • Search Form
  • RSS Autodiscovery
  • Content Carousel
  • Embedded Media
  • Microformats
  • Dublin Core
  • HTML5
  • Headings
  • Wave Errors
  • Cascading Style Sheets
  • alt Attributes
  • Valid Markup
  • Meaningful Page Titles
  • Address
  • Phone
  • Social Media Links
  • Thumbnail Images
  • News Headlines
  • Favicon

Girls Under Trees

There are actually points taken away from a site’s total if there are girls sitting under trees. Here’s why:

In 2008 usability expert Jared Spool decried the overuse of pictures of girls under trees in higher education websites. This meme has become a famous cliché in web design circles, mentioned by everyone from web design expert Jeffrey Zeldman to law professor/blogger Ann Althouse.

Eye tracking studies suggest that such images are filler which is often ignored by users. Points were deducted for home pages displaying people (of any gender) under, near, or around trees.

The Top 30

You can view the entire list (and much, much, much more) by downloading the source paper here. (PDF)

Sources:

Abstract: Eiseman, Jason and Skalbeck, Roger V., Top 10 Law School Home Pages of 2010 (January 7, 2011). GREEN BAG ALMANAC AND READER 2011, pp. 339-366, Ross E. Davies, ed., Green Bag Press, 2011; Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 11-01. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1736662