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Evaluating Your Institutional Website

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Detailed review of best practices in higher education websites from a marketing perspective. Overall focus is on starting with the top tasks that potential students want to complete on college and university websites. The first experience people have on a website makes the recruitment process much easier... or much more difficult.

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Evaluating Your Institutional Website

  1. 1. EVALUATING YOUR INSTITUTIONAL WEBSITE ©ROBERTE. JOHNSON, PH.D.2015 Improving Your Strategic Recruitment Communications Plan Academic Impressions Houston, TX June 1-3, 2015 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 1
  2. 2. KEEP. IT. SIMPLE. What do most people want from your website? Fast task completion. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 2
  3. 3. Let Google help you… https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 3
  4. 4. 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 4
  5. 5. Nielsen review of Bucknell website… http://www.nngroup.com/articles/breaking-web-conventions/ The Nielsen review… The Bucknell website… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 5
  6. 6. Keep reading levels low… http://www.cam.ac.uk/research University of Cambridge Research Grade 10 Reading Level Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 6
  7. 7. TOP TASK DESIGN… 3 to 5 tasks are usually dominant. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 7
  8. 8. MAJOR REASON PEOPLE VISIT YOUR WEBSITE… Complete a task… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 8
  9. 9. THE GOLDEN RULE… <5 seconds to connect Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 9
  10. 10. Top tasks for future students… • Top tasks at the start… • Find the programs you offer • Visit the academic program(s) of interest • Learn what you will cost • See if your grads are successful (AKA, “outcomes”) • Other important tasks • Who enrolls at this place? • What’s required for admission? • Where are you located? Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 10
  11. 11. Not top tasks for future students… • Try not to clutter a web page task completion obstacles to a smooth task completion journey: • Reading mission statements… for the university or for individual administrative departments. • Reading messages from deans and presidents. • Learning when a college was founded. • Scanning news story headlines. • Watching home page carousels unfold. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 11
  12. 12. BETWEEN SPEED & BEAUTY… Always pick speed. Especially on mobile. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 12
  13. 13. Slower than most on mobile… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 13
  14. 14. THE HOME PAGE… Most people come to a home page to leave it as quickly as possible. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 14
  15. 15. 4 center-stage top task links… http://www.uottawa.ca/en Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 15
  16. 16. Direct path to costs & scholarships… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 16
  17. 17. 8 easy-to-scan link clusters… http://sydney.edu.au/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 17
  18. 18. Direct path to academic programs… http://www.stedwards.edu/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 18
  19. 19. THE ADMISSIONS PAGE… Top tasks differ over the recruitment cycle. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 19
  20. 20. Tasks grouped by cycle stage… http://www.esu.edu/admissions/index.cfm Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 20
  21. 21. A Canadian example… https://www.lakeheadu.ca/future-students Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 21
  22. 22. Opening with key questions… http://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/ • One missing question: • “What programs do you offer?” • Use analytics to discard or replace questions of little interest. • Ask recruiters about college night questions. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 22
  23. 23. ACADEMIC PROGRAMS OFFERED… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 23
  24. 24. One option… big images, small text https://majors.stanford.edu/ • 99 programs with interactive searching by alphabet and “interest.” • Images usually match the major. • A long way to scroll • Especially on a phone Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 24
  25. 25. Or just an alpha list of programs… http://www.stedwards.edu/academics/bachelors/programs Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 25
  26. 26. How fast on mobile? https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ Stanford University… 54/100 St. Edward’s… 72/100 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 26
  27. 27. ON AN ACADEMIC PROGRAM PAGE… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 27
  28. 28. A first focus on outcomes… http://www.nait.ca/program_home_78110.htm • As the page opens… • Career options • Employment rate • Salaries • All text does not mean fast on mobile… • 72/100 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 28
  29. 29. “REAL” VIDEO STORY TELLING… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 29
  30. 30. Short alumni “experience” stories… http://blogs.davidson.edu/afterdavidson/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 30
  31. 31. Introducing (mostly) students… http://viewbook.enrollment.cmu.edu/site/viewbook/profiles.html Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 31
  32. 32. ESPECIALLY FOR TRANSFER STUDENTS… Top task: how many credits will transfer to your school? Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 32
  33. 33. Self-help for transfer credit value… https://www.franklin.edu/transfer-credit-college-course-equivalency-tool Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 33
  34. 34. INQUIRY FORMS… The longer the form, the fewer people will complete it. Guaranteed. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 34
  35. 35. Blessedly brief inquiry form… http://bit.ly/OqbqFY Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 35
  36. 36. Asking permission to text… http://online.gannon.edu/request-more-information Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 36
  37. 37. Professional schools keep it simple… http://bit.ly/1aDruV9 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 37
  38. 38. Give people a reason to use your form… Cornell University • "Join our contact list and receive emails, electronic invitations to programs, and important admission updates by completing the form below." American University • “To receive additional information for Undergraduate Programs at American University, please complete and submit the following form. To use this form, you must have Java script enabled in your web browser. AU is sensitive to privacy issues and will not sell or otherwise distribute information obtained from this form. If your browser does not support forms, send mail to afa@american.edu to request application materials.” Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 38
  39. 39. Can you really personalize response? http://www.calvin.edu/admissions/contact/request/ • “Tell us more about yourself, and we’ll keep you up to date about what’s going on at Calvin in your interest areas.”
  40. 40. Request for social security number? https://www.applyweb.com/public/inquiry?s=umuginq Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 40
  41. 41. An unusual auto response… https://www.findlay.edu/admissions/Request-Info
  42. 42. AT THE END… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 42
  43. 43. 6 key points to remember… • People visit websites to complete top tasks. • Let tasks guide navigation. • Marketing-focused content is dangerous. • Often creates speed bumps on the visitor journey. • Speed gives competitive advantage with impatient visitors, mobile or large screen. • Let people tell “real” stories, preferably in short videos. • Keep inquiry forms short. Really short. • Start a content reduction plan. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 43
  44. 44. THANKS FOR BEING HERE IN HOUSTON! Bob Johnson, Ph.D. bob@bobjohnsonconsulting.com www.bobjohnsonconsulting.com @highedmarketing Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC ... @HighEdMarketing 44

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