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Evaluating Your Institutional Website

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The impression that potential students get from your website is very often the deciding factor as to whether or not they will keep you on their list of potential colleges and continue to engage with you. Through examples of strong websites, with an emphasis on giving priority to the top tasks of potential students rather than "marketing speak" content, you will see new ideas to increase the marketing strength of our website. to help build your inquiry pool and increase conversions throughout each stage of the recruitment process.

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Evaluating Your Institutional Website

  1. 1. EVALUATING YOUR INSTITUTIONAL WEBSITE ©ROBERTE. JOHNSON, PH.D.2016 Improving Your Strategic Recruitment Communications Plan Academic Impressions Atlanta, GA June 6-8, 2016 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. 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.” • #6 • “Provide information about job placement after graduation, and link to it from the alumni section of the website.” • #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 3
  4. 4. Use Google mobile, desktop check… https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 4
  5. 5. Keep reading levels low… http://www.cam.ac.uk/research University of Cambridge Research Grade 10 Reading Level Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 5
  6. 6. Opinion can differ… Bucknell University CASE Gold Award 2015 • Institutional Websites • 88 entries • Gold Awards • Bucknell University (Pa.) • “Bucknell University reimagined and redesigned its institutional website to attract students who are leaders, entrepreneurs, and collaborators. This site, which encourages exploration and stimulates curiosity, is also populated with factual and practical material for conducting the business of a university.” Google Evaluation… 34/100 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 6
  7. 7. Nielsen review of Bucknell website… http://www.nngroup.com/articles/breaking-web-conventions/ The Nielsen review… The Bucknell website… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 7
  8. 8. TOP TASK DESIGN… 3 to 5 tasks are usually dominant. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 8
  9. 9. MAJOR REASON PEOPLE VISIT YOUR WEBSITE… Complete a task… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 9
  10. 10. THE GOLDEN RULE… <5 seconds to connect Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 10
  11. 11. 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 11
  12. 12. Not top tasks for future students… • Try not to clutter a web page with obstacles to a smooth task completion journey: • Watching home page carousels unfold. • Reading mission statements… for the university or for administrative departments. • Reading welcome messages from deans & presidents. • Finding the year a college was founded. • Scanning news story headlines. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 12
  13. 13. BETWEEN SPEED & BEAUTY… Always pick speed. Especially on mobile. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 13
  14. 14. Slow on mobile… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 14
  15. 15. THE HOME PAGE… Most people come to a home page to leave it as quickly as possible. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 15
  16. 16. A most unusual home page… http://www.xavier.edu/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 16
  17. 17. Priority for academic program path… http://www.callutheran.edu/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 17
  18. 18. Carousel co-existence… https://www.vu.edu.au/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 18
  19. 19. “Estimate cost and aid”… http://www.lynn.edu/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 19
  20. 20. 4 center-stage top task links in 2014… http://www.uottawa.ca/en Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 20
  21. 21. Today, task approach is gone… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 21
  22. 22. THE ADMISSIONS PAGE… Top tasks change over the recruitment cycle. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 22
  23. 23. Tasks grouped by cycle stage… http://www.esu.edu/admissions/index.cfm Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 23
  24. 24. 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 24
  25. 25. ACADEMIC PROGRAMS OFFERED… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 25
  26. 26. 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 26
  27. 27. Or an alpha list of programs… https://wayne.edu/programs/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 27
  28. 28. How fast on mobile? https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ Stanford University… 53/100 Wayne State… 73/100 Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 28
  29. 29. ACADEMIC PAGES… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 29
  30. 30. 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 30
  31. 31. Top tasks for study abroad… http://studyabroad.arcadia.edu/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 31
  32. 32. Important faculty details… http://www.middlebury.edu/academics/enam/faculty Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 32
  33. 33. Success after graduation… http://www.colgate.edu/distinctly-colgate/success-after-colgate Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 33
  34. 34. “REAL” VIDEO STORY TELLING… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 34
  35. 35. Introducing (mostly) students… http://viewbook.enrollment.cmu.edu/site/viewbook/profiles.html Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 35
  36. 36. Short alumni “experience” stories… http://blogs.davidson.edu/afterdavidson/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 36
  37. 37. Increasing enrollment conversion… http://askawildcat.davidson.edu/ Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 37
  38. 38. ESPECIALLY FOR TRANSFER STUDENTS… Top task: how many credits will transfer to your school? Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 38
  39. 39. Self-help for transfer credit value… https://www.franklin.edu/transfer-credit-college-course-equivalency-tool Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 39
  40. 40. And the fastest mobile tested… 93! Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 40
  41. 41. INQUIRY FORMS… The longer the form, the fewer people will complete it. Guaranteed. Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 41
  42. 42. Once upon a time… and today Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 42
  43. 43. Brief forms increase inquiries… https://admission.stmarytx.edu/#contact Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 43
  44. 44. 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 44
  45. 45. Request for social security number? https://www.applyweb.com/public/inquiry?s=umuginq Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 45
  46. 46. An unusual auto response… https://www.findlay.edu/admissions/Request-Info
  47. 47. AT THE END… Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC 47
  48. 48. 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 48
  49. 49. THANKS FOR BEING HERE IN ATLANTA! Bob Johnson, Ph.D. bob@bobjohnsonconsulting.com www.bobjohnsonconsulting.com @highedmarketing Bob Johnson Consulting, LLC ... @HighEdMarketing 49