As alluring as the thought of designing a website for your school may be, it’s important to remember that a university’s website differs from most other types of websites. A university website needs to accommodate a large amount of content and users, as well as provide easy navigation and a clean design.
The website will function as an extension of the university’s values and ideals, which is why being clear on the branding elements is important.
However, don’t let that intimidate you! With these 12 tips, you’ll be well on your way to designing a great university website:
Group Navigation by Type
There are typically three types of group navigation who will visit a university website:
- Content-Based Navigation – Those who want to find information about the university, such as academic programs, admissions requirements, and campus life.
- Utility-Based Navigation – Those who want to use the website to do something, such as apply for admission or check their financial aid status.
- Audience-Based Navigation – Those who want to find information targeted to a specific group, such as prospective students, current students, faculty and staff, or alumni.
Designing the navigation for a university website can be daunting, but it’s important to remember that different types of visitors will be looking for different information. By grouping the navigation by type, you can make it easier for everyone to find what they’re looking for.
Make Your “About Us” Impactful
Leaving the “About Us” page as an afterthought is a mistake many websites make, but it’s especially important for university websites. The “About Us” page is usually one of the most-visited pages on a website, so it’s important to make sure that yours is informative and well-written.
Some things to include on your “About Us” page:
- A brief history of the university
- The university’s mission statement
- Information about the university’s faculties and schools
- Famous alumni
- Notable achievements
- The university’s location and college campus life
Creating an engaging and informative “About Us” page is a great way to give visitors a snapshot of what your university has to offer.
Make a List of the University’s Programs and Degrees
Some things to consider when doing this:
- Creating separate pages for each program and degree
- Organizing programs and degrees by school or college
- Including a search function to help users find what they’re looking for
By clearly delineating university programs and degrees, you can make it easier for users to find the information they’re visiting websites for.
Showcase your Campus
Intrusive and low-quality photos are a turnoff for many users, so using photography and video wisely on your university website is important. Instead of using photos and videos as filler content, use them to tell your university’s story.
Not only will this make your website more visually appealing, but it will also give visitors a better sense of what your university is all about.
You can use photography and video to:
- Showcase the university’s campus and facilities
- Feature students, faculty, and staff in action
- Highlight student life and campus culture
- Tell the stories of your university’s history and traditions
- Let visitors see what makes your university special.
Use Social Media to Connect
According to Experian consumer research, more than 98% of college-aged kids use social media. As a result, social media is a great way to connect with your target audiences.
With social media, you can:
- Engage with prospective and current students
- Enroll new students
- Build relationships with alumni
- Promote university events and news
- Share photos and videos
Social media is a powerful tool that can be used to connect with your audiences in a more personal way. Now is the time to start if you’re not already using social media to connect with your audiences.
Make It Easy for Visitors to Take Action
Complex and confusing website designs can often lead to user frustration, so it’s important to make it easy for visitors to take action on your university website.
But how do you do that?
By keeping your website design simple and easy to navigate, you can help visitors find what they’re looking for and take the actions you want them to take.
Nor should you forget the importance of calls to action (CTAs). CTAs are essential for driving conversions on your website, so make sure to include them prominently.
Show what Students can Expect
One of the best ways to get prospective students interested in your university is to show them what student life is like.
You can do this by:
- Including photos and videos of students on your website
- Creating a blog or news section that highlights student life
- Using social media to give a behind-the-scenes look at student life
By showing prospective students what student life is really like, you can give them a better sense of whether or not your university is the right fit for them.
Optimize Page Speed
No one likes to wait for a website to load, so it’s important to make sure your university website is as fast as possible. Without a fast website, you risk losing visitors’ attention and interest.
If your website takes longer than five seconds to load, 37% of your visitors will leave. There are a number of ways you can optimize your website for speed, including:
- Using a content delivery network (CDN)
- Reducing the number of plugins you use
- Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
Optimizing your website for speed can improve the user experience and keep visitors on your site longer. Moreover, a fast website can also help you improve your search engine rankings.
Infographics are a great way to engage your audience and communicate complex information in an easy-to-understand format.
If you have data or statistics that you want to share with your audience, consider creating an infographic. Not only will this make your website more visually appealing, but it will also help you communicate your message more effectively.
Add Live Chat
Adding live chat to your website can help you improve the user experience and make it easy for visitors to get their questions answered in real-time.
Customers expect a timely response when they start a live chat, according to 53% of consumers. With live chat, you can:
- Engage with visitors in real-time
- Answer visitors’ questions quickly and easily
- Reduce the number of support tickets you receive
- Make it easy for visitors to contact you
Now is the time to start if you’re not already using live chat on your website. There are a number of free and paid live chat software options available, so you can choose the one that best meets your needs.
Display Student Testimonials
Whether on your website or social media, displaying student testimonials is a great way to show your audience what your university is really like.
Student testimonials can help you:
- Build trust with prospective students
- Show the positive impact your university has had on students’ lives
- Answer common questions about your university
If you don’t have student testimonials, reach out to your current students and ask them to write a testimonial for you. You can also post a call for testimonials on social media or on your university’s website.
Pro-Tip: The best testimonial videos are those that are personal and relatable. So, when you’re selecting testimonials to feature, make sure to choose those that will resonate with your target audience.
Incorporate Interactive Elements
Make your website more engaging and interactive by incorporating calculators, quizzes, and polls.
Not only will this make your website more fun to use, but it will also help you collect data about your visitors.
For example, you could create a quiz that helps current and prospective students determine which university best fits them. Or, you could create a poll to collect feedback about your website.
You can use several free online tools to create quizzes, polls, and other interactive elements for your website.
Designing a website for a university is a big task. There’s a lot of information to include, and it all needs to be easy to find and understand. But there’s one thing that’s even more important than ensuring your educational website provides valuable content – and that’s making sure it’s designed to help you enroll more students.
The above are just a few tips for creating a university website designed to engage and convert your audiences. By following these tips, you can create a robust educational institution website to help you achieve your marketing and enrollment goals.
If you need help with your college website, or private research university website design, contact our team of experts today. We specialize in creating websites designed to attract and convert your target audiences.