Okay, time for me to give a few departments their propers for putting together some good on-line application sites. There were a couple of nice sites, and they should be models for others who want to put together on-line applications.
First, the good sites make you enter only a minimal amount of information about your application by hand. It’s all and only the information the department needs to give a quick look over your application—your name, your school, your AOSs and AOCs, and your letter writers. If they want to know what your dissertation’s about, or what you’re presented on or what publications you have, they’re willing to look at your CV. And most importantly, they don’t give you pages and pages of idiotic questions about who your uncles are, or whether or not you’re a serial killer.
Second, the good sites let you attach all the documents in your application on a single page. They just give you a bunch of fields to put attachments in, and let you upload what you want in the order you want to do it. They don’t insist, e.g., that one field has to have a list of your publications, and then not let you attach your writing sample until you’ve done the list of publications. (What? No writing samples allowed until you have at least one publication?)
And finally, when you have all your documents attached on a single page, the good sites let you upload them all with a single click. This one’s so fucking obvious, I really don’t understand why it was so rare. But it was. So for those departments whose applications sites got this one right, nice work. You saved a tree, and you made my life a little easier.