How to Improve School UX (User Experience) Through Web Design
Once a prospective student myself, I have been exposed to a numerous amount of school website designs, both good and bad. Institutions and their respective web platforms can be the sole reason that a student chooses to attend or reject a university. Yes, they are game-changing.
The best university websites are easy to navigate, speak clearly, and make it easy for everyone to find to find the information they need. For more information about how eduMEDIA helps many institutions achieve their goals through user experience and web design, check out some of our case studies. eduMEDIA works hard with clients to improve school website designs through various services.
To improve user experience, it is important to be consumer-oriented and to always put the consumer’s needs first. To do that, we’re going to walk you through a few design tips and guidelines for school web platforms.
Clearly identify your university on every page
The name of your college or university, as well as the logo, should be clearly visible on every page. Remember, not everyone arrives at your website from the homepage; many will arrive on internal pages via search.
For subsites and microsites especially, it is essential that users know which university they’re looking at. Although it might be obvious to you that a certain field of study is a part of your university, you have to remember that not everyone will know that. There’s nothing wrong with being overly informative. By having your full university name and logo shown prominently on each site (i.e., not just in the footer), you make it easy for users to identify you, therefore making your institution more memorable as a whole. As an added benefit, this can also help strengthen the brand association with individual department pages.
Use images that reflect your university’s values and priorities
Visitors make value judgments about your school based on the images that you use. A few photos of sporting events: users will associate your institution with sports. A video gallery with thumbnails of people that all look the same: users will notice a lack of diversity.
When selecting images, be conscious of what each one communicates. Another thing to be aware of is the fact that users can tell the difference between genuine photos and stock images. Stock photos will often elicit responses about the school being generic, bland, or showing little effort. In contrast, schools with intimate/self-shot photos will be appreciated and thought of as authentic.
Make your About Us page count
The About Us page is one of the top places where prospective students go to decide if a university is a good fit for them. Unfortunately, this area is often a missed opportunity on many university sites, with too much content that is boring, generic, and uninformative. Improve the About Us page by leading with an informative summary of your school: goals, objectives, student life, etc.. Remember: always write about what you would want to hear if you were a prospective student. Write this summary in plain language, and offer an easy-to-scan fact list. If you really want to make an impact, showcase a video that will give a sense of your school and will appeal to a broad range of users.
Emphasize your strengths and achievements
Visitors want to know why your school is special and why they should pick your school over the other institutions. Gather those statistics, rankings, and awards, and make them easy to find (retention rate, graduation rate, job after school rate, alumni connections, etc.) We know that users scan pages rather than reading it as a whole, so don’t bury valuable data in long/dense paragraphs.
If need be, add a picture or video here and there to lighten up the denseness and add some white space for design purposes.
Make it easy for users to view a list of majors and programs
Prospective students look for majors, minors and programs, not schools or colleges. Personally, I chose my college because of the film program, and I know a lot of students who feel the same way. If your institution is known for interior design, be sure to provide a list of all the majors, minors and unique programs that are available to prospective students. Additionally, make it easy to find and navigate.
If a list of majors is not easily accessible on a school website, it could heavily affect the time spent on the website per user, therefore lowering your institution’s enrollment rates as well.
Through these five tips and tricks, we hope you feel more confident about the do’s and don’ts of school websites! Let us know about any thoughts or questions you may have in the comments! Our school web design experts are always here to help, feel free to contact us with any questions you may have!