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Quick Tips To Immediately Improve A University Website

A university website is a vital digital tool for attracting prospective students and a central portal for immediate information, services and online learning. They serve as an institution’s digital shop window, showcasing its identity, community, values, and offerings. However, with digital investments increasing, universities are beginning to see much more competition online.

As a digital agency, we’ve successfully delivered a variety of higher education websites. We’ve helped institutions to better tell their stories online through creative and strategic website designs. In this article, we break down what we’ve learned and our top 10 quick tips that will immediately improve any university website.

 

User-focused navigation

Three students working together on a university website

User-focused websites offer students, staff and alumni a more streamlined and efficient website experience. Strategic user journeys that cater to your varying audiences and their website goals improve engagement rates and user satisfaction.

User-focused Menus:

Simplify navigation menus by categorising content strategically and opting for clear and concise wording. Ensure that the main navigation menu is easily accessible and visible on all pages.

Search Functionality:

Consider integrating a powerful search feature to help users quickly find specific information.

Mobile Responsiveness:

With an increasing number of students, alumni and staff accessing websites on their mobile devices, it’s vital that university websites are responsive and have seamless experiences across a wide range of devices.

 

 

Visual content

Visually appealing website design and content can leave a lasting impression on visitors. It’s a chance to stand out from the competition and visually describe the institution’s identity.

Be Consistent:

Maintain consistency with your brand identity as much as possible, including the use of brand colours, your logo, and consistent copy and typography across all digital channels.

Engaging Imagery:

It’s no surprise that high-quality imagery can captivate website users, leading to improved engagement rates. Quality images are especially important for university websites as these are an engaging way to showcase student life, facilities, and the community.

Accessible Design:

Prioritise accessibility by ensuring the website is designed to accommodate users with disabilities and other digital accessibility needs. Accessible website design allows for a more varied user audience and also helps improve search engine rankings. We discuss accessibility and inclusivity more in the next section.

 

 

Accessibility and Inclusivity

A female university professor using a computer

To ensure that the university website caters to a diverse audience, prioritising accessibility is essential. Higher education institutions have a legal obligation to meet the recent WCAG 2.2 requirements in order to remain compliant.

WCAG Compliance:

Public sector organisations in the UK, such as universities and colleges, have a legal duty to comply with accessibility requirements set out in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Recently, WCAG 2.2 was introduced with new accessibility requirements, which we have broken down in a recent article. In the USA, similar institutions will need to be ADA-compliant.

Multilingual Support:

Consider incorporating multilingual options such as webpage translations to cater to a global audience.

 

 

Interactivity and dynamic content

Dynamic and interactive content can significantly enhance the overall user experience of a university website when used correctly. Overuse of video content with large file sizes can impact website performance, slowing website speed and affecting functionality. This can negatively impact the user experience, but when video is used strategically and implemented carefully, it can have significant benefits.

Video Content:

Consider creating high-quality videos that highlight the university’s culture, achievements, and environment which helps to bring to life the student experience. Embed video content strategically – most likely hosting with a third party – and remember to regularly audit the use of large video files that may reduce loading speeds and website performance.

3D Tours:

Immersive 3D tours offer prospective students, both nationally and internationally, the opportunity to visit campus without needing to be there physically. Interactive tools such as Matterport’s immersive walk-around software, help to engage users and provide them with valuable insights into university life.

 

 

A well-crafted website not only attracts prospective students but also fosters a positive relationship with the entire university community, contributing to the institution’s overall digital success. A user-friendly, visually engaging, and inclusive university website strengthens your online presence and builds a positive digital brand experience. By incorporating some of the above tips, you’re well on your way to building a more comprehensive website that caters to a wider audience base and improves overall performance.

If you are looking to make website improvements to your higher education website or looking to design a site, feel free to get in touch with the Crucible team. We will be delighted to assist you with your university website project.

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