• Design
  • Web Design

The Future of University Websites

 

  1. Decline in the printed prospectus
  2. Increase in digital student services
  3. Emphasis on student recruitment
  4. Interactive websites

 

University websites have long been an important part of an institution’s digital strategy. They are central to attracting and recruiting new students and providing essential information to current students, alumni, and staff. However, following to the Covid-19 pandemic, digital services for universities have become more essential than ever. Websites in particular offer inclusive and immediate access to information, news, and more prevalently, online learning.

University websites are becoming increasingly central to university marketing and communications strategies. With a decline in printed prospectuses and in-person services, university websites are taking on a more significant role in shaping how institutions present themselves to prospective students and the community. In this article, we’ll discuss the crucial turning points in the higher education landscape and what the future looks like for university websites.

Decline in the printed prospectus

A student using a computer at university

Printed prospectuses are being used less and less as digital investments grow and institutions shift towards online platforms. The bulky booklets are being transformed into engaging and visually dynamic websites; saving paper waste and reducing costs. Digital prospectuses are sustainable and easily editable, enabling content editors to publish reliable and up-to-date information.

With a digital prospectus, universities have more control over what they publish and when. They can be designed to suit specific users and where they are in their higher education journeys. Improving overall user experience and satisfaction. Institutions can even highly personalise the digital prospectus experience. For example, The University of Essex prompts users to create a unique prospectus through a series of questions based on their specific interests and level of education.

Increase in digital student services

With more investment going into growing digital services, university websites are evolving into multifaceted platforms that cater to a wide range of student needs. Internal functionalities, such as booking student accommodation, paying bills, booking events and general admin, are being increasingly integrated into university websites. A centralised online platform allows students and staff to access multiple departments and services seamlessly. This reflects the broader shift towards enhancing the student experience through digital platforms and tools.

Emphasis on student recruitment

Students at a university class

As investments into digital experiences increase, institutions are looking towards improving their digital offerings. To stay ahead of the competition, some institutions are opting for video content and interactive elements to enhance the online experience.

Although video production can be costly, it offers a lasting and impactful impression. Especially if the focus is on undergraduate recruitment. A good example of this is Wadham College, Oxford, who have used video content and animations effectively, bringing the student experience and essence of the institution to life.

Interactive websites

There is an increasing expectation around university websites evolving to where users can gain a full understanding of the institution without an in-person visit to the campus. Immersive 3D technologies, such as Matterport, provide visitors with powerful interactive walk-around tools. Visitors can gain a broader view of campus facilities, student life and the general environment, without ever needing to visit the institution physically. This is particularly relevant due to a shift in digital use but also a more globally connected world. Interactive and immersive technology bridges the gap between the physical and digital. Prospective students from anywhere in the world have the opportunity to visit a university campus from their own homes.

A future-proofed university website

The future of university websites is driven by a growing demand for online, interactive experiences. As universities say goodbye to printed prospectuses and turn their attention to a seamless digital experience, they redefine how institutions can better enhance the student experience and cater to a much wider range of needs from managing accommodation to engaging with university societies.

As a creative digital agency, Crucible has worked with innovative higher education institutions to deliver impactful and engaging university websites. If you’d like to discuss your website project, do feel free to get in touch with someone on the Crucible team!

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