Follow along with our Podcast at http://www.UCCS.edu
College and university Websites are unique in many ways and we have much to learn from these complex sites. They have a diverse set of objectives, multiple stakeholders and many messages to relay. College/university Website design and management is challenging and time consuming.
Start by identifying the target markets (students, parents, faculty etc.) and identifying their needs. Then develop a plan and strategy for the Website based on those needs. The three key areas to focus on are 1) navigation, 2) conversion points and 3) contents/images.
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Website has complicated navigation. They are using graphics for navigation, many users will not know that these are navigation points. Below are some recommendations for this site:
- Simplify navigation and focus toward the target markets
- Keep the site design and menus consistent on all pages
- Financial aid and registration areas need to be easier to find.
- Buttons for “Apply Now” can be very effective. These should be clear conversion points throughout the site.
- Use real UCCS students and faculty in photos to better personalize the site.
Let’s look at a few other colleges Websites:
- Stanford University: Using image and graphics that are true to the institution and their homepage navigation is easy to follow.
- Massachussettes Institute of Technology: Integrated the experience of being at MIT into their homepage
- Harvard School of Business: Clean homepage design, consistent design throughout.
- Colorado College: Strong photography with a focus on graduation, the first initial benefit from going to college.
Social Networking will have a big impact on future college students. Social media is central to this target market of college bound high school students. This is an area of marketing for colleges and universities that is just waiting to be tapped.
Action Plan for UCCS:
- Do the research and homework to develop a new site map.
- Develop conversion points to meet the needs of the users and the college/university.
- Look at other sites, what are they doing well and not so well.
- Conduct user testing in key target markets.