For many–if not most–potential students, as well as faculty and staff seeking employment, your college or university’s website delivers their first impressions of your institution directly onto their phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer.
The impact of “curb appeal,” of driving past your gates or taking an anonymous stroll around your campus to get a sense of what you’re about, has taken a back seat to your digital presence. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the value and influence of offering a professional, attractive, interactive online portal to your school. It is the face of your brand and your most effective marketing tool.
Does your website provide an experience worthy of your institution?
The best websites are visually appealing, speak clearly to digital visitors, work smoothly across various platforms, and are easy and instinctive to navigate. They must evolve regularly to stay current not only with up-to-date information about your institution but also the latest structure, menus, and offerings visitors expect based on their experiences with other websites they use, from commercial outlets such as Amazon, eBay, or Zillow to social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
How can you ensure that your institution’s web presence is optimally serving your needs as well as those of visitors to your website?
The best way is to undertake an in-depth review. Whether your website has been developed and is being maintained by campus staff or you have outsourced its design, build, and maintenance, regular evaluations of appearance, content, message, branding, accessibility, and ease of use are key. It’s not necessary to undertake a complete redesign every year, but keeping content and function correct and current is vital. If visitors to your website land on broken links, outdated calendar items, staff listings that include personnel no longer working for your institution, descriptions of discontinued programs, or other incorrect content, it will reflect poorly on your institution overall. Have a plan in place to regularly review and maintain your website.