We recently poured over countless research documents in search of the golden ticket to what makes a higher ed website effective for prospective students. We are fairly certain there is no ONE golden ticket, we’ve searched high and low and know we would have found it by now. See, websites for colleges and universities aren’t as straightforward as they might seem. In just one site you are talking to ALL of the following people:
- Prospective students that are deciding whether to consider your institution.
- Current students that are currently attending your institution and need to easily and readily find information about services, procedures and activities.
- Alums who have a special connection to the institution.
- Faculty and Staff who have to either complete the business functions of the college online or promote their office or service to one of the other audiences listed above.
Maybe there are four golden tickets? All of these audiences are important, but, let’s just focus on one at a time. We started with the audience who does not yet know us. How do we readily provide them information that they are looking for that will give them a clear picture of Stonehill? What do they want to know and how do we provide them an image and sense of who we are and what we do best?
You’ll be interested to know that:
- Almost 1/2 of prospective students and parents will take a school off it’s list if they have a bad experience on the website.
- 80% feel content is more important than design.
- 1/2 of prospective students looked at a campus website on a mobile device.
We continue to think of all of the audiences as being critically important. That is why we’ve decided to include audience-specific gateways in the information architecture of our new website. Each audience comes to the site with a different need and will be interested in different content. If they can easily self-identify, the most engaging and relevant content will be at their fingertips.
We are continually exploring the needs of each audience and how to develop a cohesive and engaging site for each.