Butler’s Website Refresh: A Digital Hellscape


“Chart” by Katie Freeman, courtesy of Butler University website.


As you may have noticed, the Butler University website recently became the unfortunate recipient of what I assume is meant to be a makeover, but ultimately looks more like a botched facelift. In other words, he got a name change.

If you told me to name a pressing problem that would be worth Butler University spending my precious tuition dollars to solve, I could give you a whole host of more interesting options. Perhaps the campus water drainage systems could use an overhaul. A few more parking spots wouldn’t hurt. Better still, what if Atherton’s food was really digestible?

Apparently none of these potential projects were as critical as rebranding the website – a venture that could apparently cost anywhere $40,000 to $75,000. In my not-so-humble opinion, that money would be better spent on, well, anything else.

But no – Butler’s marketing and communications powerhouse improvised this update into the university’s budget, neglecting the possibility of improving the campus experience in favor of baiting potential Bulldogs via a brand refresh.

I personally don’t frequent butler.edu, but I don’t recall encountering any noticeable problems on the site. It wasn’t buggin’ out, and it certainly didn’t assault my eyeballs with an onslaught of unnecessary transition effects like it does now.

Forgive me for my incessant negativity, but the website looks like the digital equivalent of an overflowing bowl of Chipotle crafted with all possible ingredients plus extra guac – there’s way too much going on.

Seriously, if you haven’t checked out the new website, do it now.

Upon opening the website, you will find a huge banner that encourages students to “DO COLLEGE RIGHT”. This aggressively presented suggestion comes with several key details: scribbled stars and arrows that look gratuitous Cloth effects, a spinning circle of text surrounding your cursor that says “Make your mark here,” and the ability to scribble on the page in yellow ink, which somewhat stifles my barely contained desire to vandalize Butler’s property.

First of all, nothing about the chalkboard-like squiggles screams “higher education” to me. As a strategic communications major, this raises concerns about the quality of the branding techniques I learned in class. But who knows, maybe I should take notes. I might take them butler.edu home page.

Once you’ve scribbled your heart out, you’ll find that hovering your cursor over just about any link button on the page highlights it in neon yellow and triggers another horribly garish chalk animation.

From there, the site prompts incoming students to start their personalized degree by typing in a word related to what they hope to study. Solid feature, except that a search for “writing” suggests German, strategic communications, and sports media as potential majors ahead of journalism. Sigh. It’s okay, I already knew my major was going to provide me with a post-college salary no more useful than a fistful of Kohl’s Cash.

Keep going and you’ll become prone to seeing the most visually shocking transition I’ve ever seen in my life. Seriously, that’s downright treacherous. The text comes from both sides. A promotional video recedes as you scroll. Just when you think it’s over, a silly little chalk drawing of the Butler flag enters from the bottom, affixing itself to the video like an ugly bumper sticker.

Skip the stories section. We’ll gloss over the second instance of adding rotating text around the cursor – which is downright dizzying to read – in favor of analyzing the very last section of Butler’s homepage.

At the bottom of the website is an image gallery. As your cursor hovers over the photos, they dance around the screen, wiggling erratically like a child who needs to use the bathroom quickly. Now, graphic design is by no means my passion, but there has to be a better way to display a photo gallery. Images should not move. Everything must not move.

The icing on the cake ? Three more chalky Canva-esque doodles layered above the gallery. Go or go home, I guess.

I just have one question: was it worth it, Butler?

Of all the issues on this campus, focusing on the aesthetics of the website seems a bit tone deaf, especially considering the quality of the end result. At no time in my life have I felt a stronger desire to purchase a pair of blue light blocking glasses than after browsing this homepage. Please mute it. I begin.

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