It’s a Good Time to Audit Your Website for It’s Appeal to Prospective Students and Their Families
John W. Dysart
The Dysart Group
I am always surprised when reviewing enrollment management operations at colleges and universities how often I discover that the institutional website does not support recruitment efforts. While websites have been critical in the recruitment and financial processes for decades now, many colleges and universities have not taken even initial steps to upgrade the electronic experience for their customers. Given the current pandemic, the website has never been more important.
Most colleges and universities have adapted to the market and have redesigned their websites with the goal of attracting interest and making the site a valuable resource for information in the college selection process.
Navigation Ability Across Multiple Platforms
It is good practice to periodically check your website using several electronic devices. You will want to make sure that efficient navigation of the site is possible using laptops, desktops, tablets and mobile telephones. Check to ensure that navigation is easy using all available operating systems.
It seems obvious to increase the number of photographs on your website and decrease the number of words. There are many websites, however, that remain visually unappealing and verbose. Pay particular attention to the academic and financial aid sections. These are often the worst offenders.
The only thing better than a good photograph is a compelling video. Videos are a terrific mechanism for communication
- Keep the videos short. Most should last no more than one minute.
- Include videos from all the important influencers including students, parents of currently enrolled students, faculty, staff, the president, cabinet members, successful graduates and employers.
- Vary the locations by shooting videos from offices, athletic fields, gymnasiums, classrooms, residence halls, labs, libraries, the local community and appealing outdoor locations.
- Pay attention to sound. Videos with excellent visuals and poor audio are ineffective.
The most important characteristic of your website should be a clear emphasis on telling stories. Facts and figures are important but not as influential as personal stories.
Campus Visits and Virtual Campus Visits
As another article in this issue argues, encouraging campus visits is critically important. During the pandemic, offering several visit options is beneficial.
It is nice to hear from your President and other administrators about the benefits of your college or university. Nothing is more powerful, however, than hearing from individuals who have actually benefited from attendance. Always include testimonials from successful graduates. Allow them to tell of their experiences in a personal way with an emphasis on how their time at your schools prepared them for a career
It is beneficial for prospective students and their families to hear stories and endorsements from currently enrolled students and successful graduates. Do not forget to try and include testimonials from employers. Are there employers, especially in the local area, that have a history of hiring your graduates? Hearing from companies and individuals who can testify to the quality and employability of your graduates can be powerful.
Updates on the Plan for Fall 2020
As reopening continues in some areas while halted or slowed in others, making your plans for Fall 2020 is obviously important. As we progress through the end of the summer it is likely that current plans may change,and your website is a terrific mechanism to update plans as they evolve.
Your website must be evaluated, updated and constantly evolving. It is always a good time to review your website.