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Reimagining Your Website: What are prospective students looking for and how are they finding it?

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Review insights from the 2016 Ruffalo Noel Levitz E-expectations Report and discover tips and tools for implementing these strategies across your websites.

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Reimagining Your Website: What are prospective students looking for and how are they finding it?

  1. 1. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Dave Olsen, Prof. Technologist University Relations - Digital Services dmolsen@mail.wvu.edu WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS REIMAGINING YOUR WEBSITE: WHAT ARE PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS LOOKING FOR AND HOW ARE THEY FINDING IT? Mike Esposito, Exec. Creative Director University Relations miesposito@mail.wvu.edu
  2. 2. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS • The Research • The How • The End THE TALK / AN OUTLINE
  3. 3. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS THE RESEARCH
  4. 4. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Ruffalo Noel Levitz 1All material in this presentation, including text and images, is the property of Ruffalo Noel Levitz. Permission is required to reproduce information. E-Expectations 2016: What Do College-Bound High School Students Expect From Your Website and Digital Communications? Stephanie Geyer, Ruffalo Noel Levitz Lance Merker, OmniUpdate Clint Chapman, NRCCUA Sumant Mauskar, President of CollegeWeekLive
  5. 5. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Ruffalo Noel Levitz 71 It takes a collection of resources to support recruitment; your website is the hub 71% 55% 50% 42% 37% 36% 69% 57% 45% 48% 39% 41% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% College website Email from school Phone calls from admissions Print Magazine rankings College planning site entries Co16 Srs Spr 16 Co17 Jrs Spr 16
  6. 6. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Ruffalo Noel Levitz 72 Your website is their first stop to answer questions Does it drive users on in their exploration and facilitate engagement? 47% 25% 12% 3% 2% 6% 63% 19% 5% 3% 3% 3% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% Use the website to find the answer myself Email the admissions office Call the admissions office Complete an online form to get more information Chat online with a school representative Call my admissions counselor at that school Co16 Srs Sp 16 Co17 Jrs Spr 16
  7. 7. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Ruffalo Noel Levitz 74 Their experience with your site is connected to their perceptions of your college or university 74% 26% 48% 55% 75% 25% 43% 52% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% College websites make a difference in my perceptions of the school My perceptions of a school have no relation to its website Schools with better websites probably offer higher quality educational experiences The quality of the school has no relationship to its website Co16 Srs Spr 16 Co17 Jrs Spr 16
  8. 8. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Ruffalo Noel Levitz 10 How can I attract more prospective students to my website?
  9. 9. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Ruffalo Noel Levitz 11 Make your site attractive to search engines 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Search engine I know the url Link from e-mail URL in print Bookmarked College planning site YouTube search 88% 41% 39% 16% 15% 11% 8% 86% 27% 44% 16% 10% 26% 7% Co17 Jrs Spr 16 Co16 Srs Spr 16 Q: How do you find a college website?
  10. 10. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Ruffalo Noel Levitz 12 Optimizing program pages and highlighting your location will make a difference in search engine rankings 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Name of school School and program Program name Desired location Program and location 88% 50% 33% 29% 20% 84% 58% 45% 40% 27% Co17 Jrs Spr 16 Co16 Srs Spr 16 Q: Which of these options reflects the ways you would use a search engine to find college websites? (Select all that apply).
  11. 11. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Ruffalo Noel Levitz 13 30% of juniors and 24% of seniors were familiar with the college advertised Google Is the leading channel for prospective students to find these ads Click/Read? The highest rated activity after their click was simply to read more online. 33% seniors 39% juniors 47% of juniors and 39% of seniors have clicked on paid ads for colleges and universities. Search Engine Marketing
  12. 12. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Ruffalo Noel Levitz 17 How can I attract more users to my website? Include links within your site in your e-mail campaigns Make your site attractive to search engines Mobile/responsive sites are receiving higher search engine rankings On- and off-page search engine optimization strategies can make a significant difference in site traffic Build out site links. (Here’s a great article about how to do that: http://www.brightedge.com/glossary/building-quality-backlinks) Paid interactive marketing campaigns can bring more users to your site who are ready to engage Coordinate efforts with leading college planning sites
  13. 13. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Ruffalo Noel Levitz 18 What content resources add the most value to their experiences?
  14. 14. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Ruffalo Noel Levitz 19 Content targets: It’s still about academics and cost! Juniors are focused on program listings and details; seniors want to know more about cost and affordability Both juniors and seniors value the following details in program content: Job placement statistics Program rankings Graduate school placement statistics Testimonials and quotes from current students or alumni
  15. 15. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Ruffalo Noel Levitz 20 Demonstrate value through outcomes 63% 47% 51% 52% 28% 22% 21% 61% 50% 49% 46% 26% 18% 13% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% Co16 Srs Spr 16 Co17 Jrs Spr 16
  16. 16. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS ACADEMICS / THE RESEARCH • 72% of our admits ranked academic reputation as “very important” when selecting a school.1 • While 75% of enrolling students rated us as “very good” or “excellent” for academic reputation only 43% of non-enrolling did.1 • Eduventures said only 24% of non-enrolling students described WVU as having a good academic reputation.2 1 - 2013 Admitted Student Questionnaire Plus Highlights Report from The College Board 2 - 2013 Survey of Admitted Students from Eduventures
  17. 17. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS ACADEMICS / THE RESEARCH • Over 50% of both enrolling and non-enrolling wanted undergrad research opportunities.1 • In addition to “academic reputation” WVU rated lower in categories like “reputation with employers” and “quality of faculty and facilities.” Both rated as very important to making a decision.2 • Statistics that highlighted the quality of the institution resonated with prospects.3 1 - 2013 Survey of Admitted Students from Eduventures 2 - 2013 Admitted Student Questionnaire Plus Highlights Report from The College Board 3 - Understanding WVU’s Brand from the Inside from Widmeyer Communications
  18. 18. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS COST / THE RESEARCH • 82% of our admits ranked cost as “very important” when selecting a school.1 • 68% of our enrolling students said aid or cost was significant when they chose WVU. 75% for those who received aid.1 1 - 2013 Admitted Student Questionnaire Plus Highlights Report from The College Board
  19. 19. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS MESSAGING / NOTE Reflecting the audience’s preferences, messaging is most convincing when it exists in an academic context, an economic context, or, ideally, both. “Understanding WVU’s Brand from the Inside” from Widmeyer Communications
  20. 20. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS MESSAGING / PROOF 86% of prospects ranked “provides high- quality education at an affordable price” as “very important” versus 74% ranking “cost” on its own as “very important.” “Understanding WVU’s Brand from the Inside” from Widmeyer Communications
  21. 21. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS MESSAGING / VALUE FORMULA Academics / Cost = Value
  22. 22. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS LIFE / THE RESEARCH • Enrolling and non-enrolling students share the same perceptions about life on campus. 89% and 82% respectively agree it’s “fun.” 82% and 74% feel it’s a “‘spirit’ school.” • 73% of enrollees were positively impacted by the campus “social environment” but only 30% of non- enrollees shared their sentiments. • These large differences in perception extend to “diversity.” 58% to 32% respectively. 1 - 2013 Admitted Student Questionnaire Plus Highlights Report from The College Board 2 - 2013 Survey of Admitted Students from Eduventures
  23. 23. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Ruffalo Noel Levitz 24 What content resources add the most value to their experiences? Answer their top questions early and with compelling evidence: Program listings, details, outcomes data and testimonials Cost, scholarship, aid and overall value Process, deadlines, events Location, sense of place Personal fit Engagement and multi-media play a role, but can’t carry your value proposition and fit messages on their own. Looking for more adult students? They may be more comfortable (and perhaps appreciative of) live chat resources.
  24. 24. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Ruffalo Noel Levitz 81 How can you use E-Expectations to get more support from your leadership? Your digital recruitment marketing assets play an important role in their exploration of your campus, influence perceptions and support engagement. Their preference for optimized/responsive experiences is increasing. They are using mobile devices to not only access your site, read e- mails, engage with social channels and text. Resources should perform seamlessly on mobile as well as desktop/laptop views. Data strongly suggests forms to support enrollment must also be responsive. Ruffalo Noel Levitz 25 What images will be most appealing to prospective students?
  25. 25. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Ruffalo Noel Levitz 81 How can you use E-Expectations to get more support from your leadership? Your digital recruitment marketing assets play an important role in their exploration of your campus, influence perceptions and support engagement. Their preference for optimized/responsive experiences is increasing. They are using mobile devices to not only access your site, read e- mails, engage with social channels and text. Resources should perform seamlessly on mobile as well as desktop/laptop views. Data strongly suggests forms to support enrollment must also be responsive. Ruffalo Noel Levitz 65 Photos are the top-rated types of social posts 76% 48% 50% 38% 79% 53% 49% 39% 78% 52% 48% 42% 75% 51% 47% 37% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% Photos Videos News stories/features Event invitations Co16 Jrs Spr 16 Co16 Srs Fall 15 Co16 Srs Spr 16 Co17 Jrs Spr 16 63-64% of juniors and seniors using Instagram daily
  26. 26. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Ruffalo Noel Levitz 66 They’re looking for a sense of campus now: Feature current students and campus views in your posts 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Co16 Srs Spr 16 Co17 Jrs Spr 16
  27. 27. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Ruffalo Noel Levitz 28 Interest in specific images (top two boxes) 22% 21% 47% 48% 55% 62% 62% 63% 65% 67% 76% 17% 20% 45% 48% 56% 57% 58% 61% 62% 67% 75% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% Staged photos showing happy students Photos with just one or two students Photos of specific buildings without students Photos of students representing different age groups and ethnicities Photos of buildings with students Campus view of buildings with students Overview of the campus setting like an aerial show without students Photos of faculty teaching or engaging with students Images of students working in labs, using equipment Candid photos (not staged) Photos of student life or non- academic activities Co17 Jrs Co16 Srs
  28. 28. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Ruffalo Noel Levitz 40 What images will be most appealing? (Images ranked by percent of all students as most interesting) 59% 51% 41% 36% 30% 30% 27% 26% 25% 20% 17% 17% 15% 12% 11% 9% 8% 54%
  29. 29. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS
  30. 30. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Ruffalo Noel Levitz 81 How can you use E-Expectations to get more support from your leadership? Your digital recruitment marketing assets play an important role in their exploration of your campus, influence perceptions and support engagement. Their preference for optimized/responsive experiences is increasing. They are using mobile devices to not only access your site, read e- mails, engage with social channels and text. Resources should perform seamlessly on mobile as well as desktop/laptop views. Data strongly suggests forms to support enrollment must also be responsive. Ruffalo Noel Levitz 81 How can you use E-Expectations to get more support from your leadership? Your digital recruitment marketing assets play an important role in their exploration of your campus, influence perceptions and support engagement. Their preference for optimized/responsive experiences is increasing. They are using mobile devices to not only access your site, read e- mails, engage with social channels and text. Resources should perform seamlessly on mobile as well as desktop/laptop views. Data strongly suggests forms to support enrollment must also be responsive.
  31. 31. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS THE HOW
  32. 32. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS AKA STEPS FOR BUILDING A USER-FOCUSED UNIVERSITY WEBSITE
  33. 33. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Documents are at: go.wvu.edu/reimagine-web
  34. 34. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS STEP #1: DOCUMENT USER NEEDS
  35. 35. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS We must begin digital projects by exploring and pinpointing the needs of the people who will use the service or website, and the ways the service or website will fit into their lives. - US Digital Services “
  36. 36. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS
  37. 37. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS STEP #2: USE DATA TO REVISE USER NEEDS
  38. 38. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS RESEARCH / GOOGLE ANALYTICS
  39. 39. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS RESEARCH / GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE
  40. 40. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS RESEARCH / SITE IMPROVE
  41. 41. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS RESEARCH / MOZ
  42. 42. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Competitive Analysis What are our peer institutions doing? How do they compare to the research?
  43. 43. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS STEP #3: CONTENT INVENTORY & AUDIT
  44. 44. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS AKA STEP #3: DOES OUR CONTENT ANSWER THE NEEDS?
  45. 45. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS A content inventory is a decidedly human task. In fact, we find that the process can often be as valuable as the final spreadsheet. If you invest the time in scouring your Web site and deconstructing every page (or at least a good selection of pages), you will end up as the uncontested expert in how it all goes together. And that’s invaluable knowledge to possess when redesigning your site. - Jeffrey Veen “
  46. 46. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS INVENTORY / GUIDE
  47. 47. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS INVENTORY / WORKSHEET
  48. 48. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS http://content-insight.com http://urlprofiler.com INVENTORY / TOOLS
  49. 49. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS STEP #4: IDENTIFY CONTENT GAPS
  50. 50. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS STEP #5: DEVELOP AN INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE
  51. 51. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS IA / WORKSHEET
  52. 52. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS STEP #6: CREATIVE BRIEF
  53. 53. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS CREATIVE BRIEF / WORKSHEET
  54. 54. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS STEP #7: WIREFRAMES
  55. 55. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS STEP #8: CONTENT
  56. 56. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS STEP #9: WEBSITE DESIGN
  57. 57. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS Yes, we wait until step #9 before we talk about graphic design.
  58. 58. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS DESIGN / PATTERNS
  59. 59. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS STEP #10: LAUNCH!
  60. 60. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS STEP #11: MONITOR & REFINE
  61. 61. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS SUMMING UP
  62. 62. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY RELATIONS THANK YOU & QUESTIONS Dave Olsen, Prof. Technologist University Relations - Digital Services dmolsen@mail.wvu.edu Mike Esposito, Exec. Creative Director University Relations miesposito@mail.wvu.edu

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