PLN Artefact: Why Universities Must Invest in Findability


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This is my Personal Learning Artefact composed of various pieces of supporting data, and my interpretation of how and why universities must start investing in search marketing and specifically the aspect of findability and co-locating user tasks, not organizational silos.

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PLN Artefact: Why Universities Must Invest in Findability

  1. 1. Finding HopeIn a Forest of ContentThe case for more investment in Findability and advanced SEOanalysis for Universities, particularly for prospective students.
  2. 2. Presentation Defining Findability The State of SEO/Findability in Higher Ed The case for investment Solutions Conclusion
  3. 3. Defining FindabilityPeter Morville”…the ability of users to identify anappropriate Web site and navigatethe pages of the site to discover andretrieve relevant informationresources.”- Circa 2005
  4. 4. Findability vs. SEO SEO – Search Engine Optimization are techniques to helpyour website and pages get found. Findability includes the content can be found throughsearch, but “it also indicates how easily content is foundfrom within the site.”- John Curtisbasykes
  5. 5. Why does it matter?Universities often have: Poor findability. Lots of content, some of it outdated or unmanaged. Often based on organizational structure, not user tasks.This leads to…
  6. 6. Her First Impressionof Unfindable U.Scalywagstudio
  7. 7. How Bad is It?Really bad. 40% of tasks not being able to be completed on a set of 10university websites.Other startling findings: Scholarships (60% uncompleted task by users), Fees(50%) and where the school is located (~45%) “Often, course-related content was not co-located withinthe site” (3.2.1)Source: How usable are University Websites? A report on a study of prospectivestudent experience
  8. 8. But why is it so bad? “Marketing departments at many colleges are slow toevolve, and are still focused on old school, outbound"interruptive" marketing techniques…” “The critically important admissions pages of highereducation web sites are informal and often not welldesigned.”via wordstreamvia McCoy, 2011
  9. 9. Users are confused "Whats the exact difference between programs andcourses?” < Organizationally structured "What the hell is compulsory non-academic fee?” <Complicated language "I dont know if its some of the lingo they use onthese kind of websites.” < Jargon "Theres a lot of information here, that isntnecessarily a good thing all the time.” < Too muchtextSource: How usable are University Websites? A report on a study of prospectivestudent experience
  10. 10. It’s a top taskSearch and Email are the only two types of tasks that are consistentacross demographics of age for web users – Pew Internet Research
  11. 11. Prospective Students 90 per cent of prospective students report the webplayed a somewhat to significant role. 67% use search engines for researching colleges.The institution’sreputationIs damaged ifstudents struggleTo findinformation.3playmedia
  12. 12. How do we fix it?kaptainkobold
  13. 13. Analytics ReviewUniversities must establish KPIs Search data Task completions Offer best bets and structure content to supportcontentpekadad
  14. 14. Investigate in SearchMarketingAs the industry continues to grow, it’s only going to becomeincreasingly important due to the growth of mobile,Generation Z students entering the higher educationecosystem, and the increased connectivity of our society as awhole. – HighEdMarketingJournal- The unknowns as well as no pressure to increasestudent numbers for some have made searchmarketing and findability invisible to UniversityMarketing teams.
  15. 15. Conclusion Universities will be pressured to address a generation throughmobile web and search. Content and Information Architecture will need to beexamined and restructured. Students who can’t find information could go somewhere elseor begin their years with a decreased image of the university. Findability research and projects are not glamorous. They willnot win awards. They will, however: Increase a university’s reputation Secure more students and potential students Provide a better experience to potential students
  16. 16. Books to Learn More
  17. 17. Books (cont.)
  18. 18. Books (cont.)
  19. 19. Resources and People A link to Storify housing books,people and sources around thesubject of Findability.