Future Students & Their Parents: Exploring a 90% Positive Univesity Website Rating


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  • Social Factors: Contact: Can you be easily contacted – is it obvious to your customers how they can do this? Difficulty in contacting a person is one of the biggest irritations customers have with websites. Participation: Participation is the essence of the Web. Customers don’t simply want to be talked to. They also want to talk back, join discussions. Open: On the Web, customers are saying: ‘Give us the facts, quick.’ They don’t want spin, and they don’t want vital information hidden from them. They expect transparency. Recommendations: Customers love to compare, rate and review. They like to read about what other customers think. They want objective advice to help them make the right decision.  
  • What do your customers really care about? Through 12 years of research and work on the best websites and intranets we have identified the qualities that make a site work for customers. The Customer Centric Index gets your customers to rate your site against 13 critical customer-centric factors, grouped into three major categories:- Content Factors: Accurate: Accurate content is the foundation upon which all quality websites should be built. Send customers to the wrong place, give them the wrong information and they won’t come back to your site Up-to-date: If your website is not up to date then you will waste your customer’s time. Waste their time and they won’t come back. Complete: Leave your customers hanging at the end of a process, leave out the last vital link, forget to add the full address – they’ll go somewhere else. Language: If you use jargon you alienate your customers. Expect your customers to adapt to your language to describe their needs? – Forget it. On the web it must be the customer’s language ` Your customers aren’t web insiders – they don’t use language like “site architecture” or terms like “navigation”. Getting them to rate your site with regard to these critical factors means using language they understand. In the Customer Centric Index (CCI) online poll, customers are presented with a list of 26 commonly understood phrases like “Plain language”. For each positive phrase there is also a negative phase (In this instance “Full of jargon, corporate speak” is the negative phrase).  
  • Search : For many customers, search is the first step in their task. If your search doesn’t deliver a quality result in the first three results, then many people will simply hit the Back button. Navigation : Links are the building blocks of all websites. The clarity of your menus and links will have a major impact on the ability of your customers to quickly and easily complete tasks. Layout: Customers hate cluttered layouts. It makes it harder to read and find things. Do your customers think you have a simple layout? Visual appeal: Does your design make your customers feel comfortable and at ease? Do they find your website; appealing, or do they find it off-putting and alienating? Speed: Can your customers do things quickly on your website? Speed is of the essence on the Web. It’s about fast in, fast out. Everyone is in a hurry.  
  • Future Students & Their Parents: Exploring a 90% Positive Univesity Website Rating

    1. 1. Future Students & Their Parents: Exploring a 90% Positive University Website Rating © Robert E. Johnson 2011 SUNYCUAD – 2011 Educational Conference Saratoga Springs, NY June 8 - 10, 2011 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    2. 2. Major reason people go to a website… Complete a task Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    3. 3. 6 key truths about task completion… <ul><li>People are impatient </li></ul><ul><li>People are impatient </li></ul><ul><li>People are impatient </li></ul><ul><li>People are impatient </li></ul><ul><li>People are impatient </li></ul><ul><li>People are impatient </li></ul>Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    4. 4. The Golden Rule… 5 seconds to connect Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    5. 5. Customer Centric Index Survey: 13 survey topics in 3 groups… <ul><li>Information Architecture </li></ul><ul><li>Content </li></ul><ul><li>Social </li></ul>Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    6. 6. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    7. 7. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    8. 8. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    9. 9. Susquehanna University CCI Survey Responses… Future students… 182 responses Parents… 114 responses Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    10. 10. Few negative votes in any category…
    11. 11. 15 higher education results…
    12. 12. Content areas…
    13. 13. Social areas…
    14. 14. Information Architecture areas…
    15. 15. “ If there is one improvement you could make to our site, what is it and why would you make it?” Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    16. 16. From 109 future students… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    17. 17. Selected future student comments… <ul><li>“ Can't think of anything to change, on other college sites it's difficult to find the courses but here it’s easy, everything is simple to find.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Make the ‘ majors and minors ’ link on the Admissions… page more prominent.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ It would be nice to see some of the things that each of the majors does in their programs.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ An area on the website where current students rate & describe their experiences with Susquehanna from all aspects of the school.” </li></ul>Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    18. 18. From 53 parents… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    19. 19. Selected parent comments… <ul><li>“ It is the best of all the colleges we have researched for our son this year, who will be coming as a freshman in the fall.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Drop-down menus make navigating the website easier.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ One thing that should be easier to find in all web-sites -- is the student profile of the freshman class” </li></ul><ul><li>“ More details on dates and information for accepted students…” </li></ul>Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    20. 20. Exploring the website… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    21. 21. Starting with a Google search… <ul><li>“ Admissions & Financial Aid” is a first choice click point </li></ul><ul><li>“ Susquehanna is a selective college that prepares students for achievement, leadership and service” </li></ul>Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    22. 22. First impression at Admissions… http://www.susqu.edu/admissions/default.asp Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    23. 23. Lower on the admissions page… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    24. 24. A mix of student stories… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    25. 25. The “Susquepedia” feature… http://www.susqu.edu/Susquepedia.htm Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    26. 26. Clean, if long, inquiry form… http://www.susqu.edu/admissions/21880.asp Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    27. 27. My favorite inquiry form… http://email.blueoxmailbox.com/content/28818/RequestMoreInfo.html Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    28. 28. Easy-to-scan list of majors, restrained use of top-page photo… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    29. 29. Individual academic major pages with consistent navigation… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    30. 30. Scholarships, financial aid… http://www.susqu.edu/admissions/FinancialAid.asp Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    31. 31. Wrapping up… <ul><li>Strong websites have marketing impact on future students and their parents </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy access to consistent academic program information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Content is clearly presented, with high use of bullet points and sub-heads </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Language is for “normal human beings” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>If asked, visitors suggest improvements </li></ul>Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    32. 32. Special thanks to… Paul M. Novack, Jr. Director of Web Communications Susquehanna University [email_address] Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    33. 33. Who is Bob Johnson, Ph.D.? www.bobjohnsonconsulting.com <ul><li>Website research… partner w/Gerry McGovern at Customer Carewords, Ltd </li></ul><ul><li>“ Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter”… 4,100 subscribers </li></ul><ul><li>@highedmarketing… 3,600 Twitter followers </li></ul><ul><li>“ Higher Education Marketing” blog </li></ul><ul><li>Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education… chair, 1994 to 2003 </li></ul><ul><li>Ph.D. UMass Amherst… political science </li></ul>Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC
    34. 34. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC Thank You! Bob Johnson, Ph.D. President Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC Marshall, MI 49068 248.766.6425 [email_address] Customer Carewords Website Research www.bobjohnsonconsulting.com