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Best Website Elements for Recruiting Online Students: Top Tasks & Conversion Success

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The first experience a potential student has on your website is critical: If the first experience is not a good one, people will leave and not return. Your key to increased conversion is a focus on (1) fast finding and completion of top tasks and (2) clear content presentation. In this session, we present and discuss strong examples of home pages, academics, affordability, outcomes, and inquiry forms and landing pages that can boost your recruitment results.

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Best Website Elements for Recruiting Online Students: Top Tasks & Conversion Success

  1. 1. Best Website Elements for Recruiting Online Students: Top Tasks & Conversion Success©Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D. 2016 REIMAGINE EDUCATION CONNECT2016 HIGHER EDUCATION SUMMIT LOUISVILLE, KY JULY 20-21 2016 BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 1
  2. 2. Basic Website Guide Points… BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 2
  3. 3. Keep. It. Simple. What do most people want from your website? Fast task completion. BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 3
  4. 4. The Golden Rule… <5 seconds to connect as a page opens. BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 4
  5. 5. Top task website design goal… Quick identification of the path to top tasks. BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 5
  6. 6. Attention to Jakob Nielsen… http://www.nngroup.com/articles/university-sites/ TOP 10 DESIGN GUIDELINES… MY FAVORITES… #5 ◦ “Make it easy to view a list of majors and programs.” #8 ◦ “Follow the user journey: check the main tasks for each of your audiences.” #9 ◦ “Beware the perils of making your website ‘cool.’“ BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 6
  7. 7. How well do these pages work? http://www.franklin.edu/online-learning/myths-of-online-education ON LARGE SCREEN… OK WEAK ON MOBILE… BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 7
  8. 8. Check with Google… https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 8
  9. 9. Task journey stumbling blocks… Link expectations… repeat link names on destination page. Font size… don’t make them squint. (10 or 12 point) Paragraph size… 5 lines in length. Sentence length… A “.” is usually better than a “;”. Content bloat… “search” often does not work well. Photos… You don’t always need one as the page opens. BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 9
  10. 10. Top Tasks Introduction… BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 10
  11. 11. Key Question for Website Design & Content… “Please choose the TOP FIVE tasks from the list below that best describe what is important to you when choosing to go to university.” BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 11 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 1 6 11 16 21 26 31 36 41 46 51 56 Vote Tasks
  12. 12. Top future student tasks… All students… ◦Academic programs ◦Costs & financial aid ◦Investment return after graduating “Adult” online students are likely to add… ◦Time to complete a program ◦Flexible scheduling BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 12
  13. 13. In the bottom 20 “adult” tasks… Social media connections Info about alumni, presidents, and deans School news Profiles and connections to current students BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 13
  14. 14. Top task ID process… http://www.digitalgov.gov/2015/02/06/top-task-usability-design-for-your-users/ BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 14
  15. 15. Guide to the research… http://www.customercarewords.com/top-tasks-identification-overview/ BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 15
  16. 16. Higher Education Examples… BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 16
  17. 17. Finding graduate programs… http://www.graduate.umary land.edu/Program-Explorer/ Photo co-exists w/ content message. Just 3 key content points. Slow mobile speed: 56 BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 17
  18. 18. By professional interest or program name… BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 18
  19. 19. Or just scan an entry page list… http://www.ucf.edu/onlin e/ of options… Prominent “search” if you know what you want. Easy-to-scan options: Undergrad majors Master’s degrees Certificates BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 19
  20. 20. Sorting study level options… http://www.fullsail.edu/c ampus-and- online/online-degrees Easy to see “Degree Types” and “Areas of Study” to start a sort. Full listing includes time to complete. Very slow 49 speed. BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 20
  21. 21. 12 courses over 12 months… BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 21
  22. 22. Interactive transfer credit site… https://www.franklin.edu /transfer-credit-college- course-equivalency-tool More transfer credit reduces time and money cost. No need to reveal identity. Remarkably fast 93 mobile speed score. BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 22
  23. 23. Inquiry forms, brief & available… http://www.champlain.ed u/online The longer the inquiry form, the fewer people will complete it. The phone number challenge. Extra slow 38 speed. BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 23
  24. 24. What can I expect next? Immediate “bright future” reinforcement. “Next step” details show benefits of completing the task. Social media connections. Easy-to-scan format. BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 24
  25. 25. Same response on mobile… BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 25
  26. 26. Repeat the inquiry form… BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 26
  27. 27. Promote flexibility… JOHNS HOPKINS MBA… ALVERNO COLLEGE… BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 27
  28. 28. Promote “Career Advancement”… PORTLAND STATE ONLINE STORY… VILLANOVA ONLINE CERTIFICATES… BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 28
  29. 29. Address “Affordability”… STRAYER UNIVERSITY… UNIVERSITY OF MARY… BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 29
  30. 30. Easy to start admissions application… https://www.snhu.edu/admissi on/apply-now/application No log-in required. Visual: “easy to complete.” Social security # requested but not required. BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 30
  31. 31. Wrapping Up… BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 31
  32. 32. 7 top task steps to remember… For any audience, 3 to 5 tasks stand out as most important. People should see a top task immediately (<5 seconds) as a page opens. Priority to task words especially important in a mobile view. Beware of stumbling blocks on the journey to task completion. For recruitment tasks, ask admissions people what questions future students most often ask: recruiting events, email, phone, online. Beware of “cool” features that do not contribute to task completion. Reduce content bloat as much as possible. BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC 32
  33. 33. Bob Johnson, Ph.D. Thanks for being here in Louisville! bob@bobjohnsonco nsulting.com www.bobjohnsonco nsulting.com @highedmarketing www.linkedin.com/i n/bobjohnsonconsul ting BOB JOHNSON CONSULTING, LLC ... @HIGHEDMARKETING 33

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