Higher education websites are some of the largest and most complicated websites out there. They have to provide a lot of information to a variety of audiences, including current and prospective students, parents and alumni. When it comes to making your website work well for your college or university, keeping the content current is only half the battle. Your website not only needs to work, it needs to work well for all of your audiences.
Here are some modifications and additions our team recommends adding to your higher education website:
1. TXT alert system: Whether your institution uses alerts for snow days, campus-wide reminders (last day to add/drop classes), or emergency notifications, text messages are one of the best ways to inform students, faculty and staff of breaking news.
2. Audience Segmentation: College sites attract a wide variety of visitors: prospective and current students (and their families), alumni, faculty and staff, counselors and recruiters, news media, along with the general public interested in athletic events and more. By identifying your institution’s key audiences and tailoring navigation and content to their needs, you greatly improve site usability and overall effectiveness.
3. Social Integration: It is no secret that Gen Y lives and breathes Facebook. Integrating your social media presence into your website is more than placing some icons in a corner. Higher education websites can integrate Facebook functionality, create blogs, display recent tweets and direct students to relevant social profiles and pages.
4. Mobile Site: Mobile traffic to college sites is growing by more than 200% each year. In fact, about 7% of visitors are visiting your site via a handheld device. Providing an optimized mobile site with brief, relevant content will give your increasingly mobile audience the portable info they’re looking for.
5. Virtual Tour: Give prospective students and parents a real feel for your school before they arrive with an online tour around campus. Great for time-strapped working families who may not be able to make your Open House – and those who are on the fence about visiting—it can be a “picture perfect” addition to your online recruitment strategy.
6. Student Portal: There so many resources available to students from many different sources and URLs (email accounts, grades and schedules, e-portfolios, etc.), remembering the various locations, user IDs and passwords can be a challenge. Building a consolidated student portal that brings all this divergent information to one location gives students a centralized source of information they can access for all their needs. This can greatly increase efficiencies and eliminate confusion.
Does your college or alma mater’s website include any of these great features? What other tools, functionality and technology make a difference on a college or university website? Let us know.