5 ways your college website turns away students

4. Using Fake Images.

For an institution seeking to attract students by showcasing a unique community, using non-unique stock images is a major no-no.

“Neither students considering applying at your university or their parents want to see photos of students on a campus,” writes Martin. “They want to see photos of students on your campus. And images of students posed for the camera won’t do, either. They want to see students, like them, doing the things students do on campus—with exceptions, of course…Candid images, combined with some documentary-style photos from important events on campus, will go a long way toward creating a website that invites visitors to look deeper.

Going one step further, Hoang suggests looking to interactive content to truly engage prospective students.

“We took a look at how students are engaging with websites and how they access social media. One of the major takeaways is that students are more engaged with the inclusion of digital media content, especially video content…the idea of having an extremely personalized, interactive site to keep prospectives on-site by feeling engaged with the mission-specific content is a large component to success,” he said.

From that point, Hoang’s team came up with a list of site must-haves, including stand-out first impressions; authentic, emotional images and content; responsive, intuitive design; and calls-to-action based content.

“We really wanted the university website to feel like a destination. So we also looked at sites like Airbnb. We knew we had to seamlessly integrate social media and web design.”

5. Using Clichéd Statements about Passé Issues

They may read at a 7th grade level, but that doesn’t mean they can’t recognize a cliché. Call it internet-surfing savviness, but today’s prospective students have heard it all, usually from every other institution.

“To be frank, no one cares to hear that your institution ‘provides individualized attention to students to help them adapt to a rapidly changing hiring market.’ Of course you do. You’d better,” says Martin. “But so does every other college. Sorry, but it’s all been said before. Time wasted spinning marketing clichés or waving your campus colors is time that you could have used to talk about what makes your college unique.”

Instead, Martin suggests boasting about unique accomplishments with current relevance for students in a down-to-earth way, such as mentioning a good acceptance rate or a special program for those with learning disabilities. Positive statistics about campus crime rates, successful career counseling efforts or facts about innovative STEM programs are also good talking points.

For more information on the KDG report and blog synopsis, click here.