How to Build a Better College Website

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Let's be honest. A lot of college and university websites could use some improvement. Visitors get lost, offerings are unclear and the content and design don't represent all the amazing things you do. Learn more at Join VisionPoint Marketing and Percussion as we walk you through a step-by-step process and share lessons learned from two of the largest institutions on the east coast.

Transcript of How to Build a Better College Website

  • Introductions Zac VisionPoint Marketing >>> @zhhender #betterHEweb > > > > Established in March 2001 & located in Raleigh, NC with team of ~ 15 Specialize in online marketing consultation and execution in higher ed Serve: Large & Small; Public & Private; Grad, Post-Grad, Undergrad, CC Web, branding, inbound marketing, strategy, consultation, etc. Focus on whats right for our clients (no one size fits all approach) Speaking on HE marketing at CASE, AMA, eduWeb, NCMPR, AACSB, others
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender enough about me
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender Agenda: 5 Steps 1. Goal Setting 2. Information Architecture 3. Technology Decisions (CMSs) 4. Visual Design 5. Website Governance
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender Setting Expectations Lots to cover (I might talk really fast) Casual: ask questions / interrupt If I pick on your website, please dont get mad at me : ) !
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender Current-state of higher ed
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender The BAD news ...
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender BAD (many) higher ed websites are really
  • small, generic photos provide no sense of place
  • trying to do too much on the home page
  • mixed up user & global navigation
  • dated visual design
  • is that the same person?
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender The GOOD news!
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender 5 Steps to a better college website
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender 1 Goal Definition
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender Design goal-driven strategy Technology IA Content
  • #betterCCwebsite @ahatony 1a Goal Definition: Know thyself
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender Usage Habits - Events > Respondents were asked to answer questions about their needs and usage habits of the website.
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender Staff Alumni & donors Leadership graduate students undergraduates
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender Sample Stakeholder Interview Questions > Tell us about your unit/offering > Tell us about your role here > What are the goals for your unit/offering? > What are the biggest challenges you face? > Who is your target audience? > What do you want to communicate? > What are your goals for the website? > What is the current state of your content? > Do you feel that the website communicates the schools brand well?
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender Business Goals
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender Website Goals: the new website will . . . > Attract prospective students > Engage prospective students in decision-making process > Be user-friendly (find what youre looking for quickly & easily) > Make content publishing easier, more streamlined and timelier > Be built on a modern CMS (easy to use, stable, dynamic, supported) > Have a home page that acts as conduit to content (not billboard) > Will be more search friendly (external engines + internal search) > Elevate brand perception & credibility
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender 1b Goal Definition: Know thy Audience
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender Higher Ed Target Audience
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender Interviews
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender User Personas
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender What is a Website Persona? A website user persona is a fictional character that represents a set of real users (user groups) of a website. The persona should represent the goals, attitudes (toward the institution, technology, etc), demographics, and general behavior patterns of a real group of website users.
  • #betterCCwebsite @ahatony
  • Barry Antonelli (44 Years Old) Prospective Student - Online MBA Family Situation Single Occupation Accountant / Consultant Annual Income $70,000 Internet Behavior Facebook (medium), E-mail (heavy), IM/ Chat (heavy), YouTube (light), Search engines (Google), On-site search (light) Devices Personal laptop, Blackberry Tech savviness 3 stars (out of 5) Uses the WTCC website for: non-credit course descriptions, course scheduling information, access to online courses Barry is your classic professional road warrior. He travels quite a bit for work and enjoys his job, but he has always been drawn to graphic design and would like to get a more formal understanding of Photoshop. Hes not ready for a career change, but would be if he felt that he could make it as a graphic designer. Hes looking for a class that will provide him with a way that he can get his feet wet in the field of graphic design (e.g. Introduction to Photoshop). Even if he doesnt go for a career change he would like to continue to take graphic design classes for fun. Hes wanted to do this for years, but he cannot commit to attending class on campus because hes on the road almost every week. An online class would be perfect for him. In order to make the decision, Barry will be looking for information on availability in the area, descriptions and examples regarding the overall online course experience, commitments he needs to make to attend any part of the class on campus, tuition and fees, FAQs and a calendar of when the next class begins.
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender Users' Goals
  • Barry Antonelli (44 Years Old) Prospective Student > Online MBA Distance Education Goals Aggregate goals for this group > Look up class availability and descriptions > Research instructor information > Find technology requirements > Register for classes > Look up descriptions of the online experience > Assess whether or not online learning is for them
  • #betterHEweb @zhhender 2 Information Architecture
  • What is Information Architecture? IA is the centerpiece of website design & development yet it is the most commonly overlooked part of the process (which is why so many sites fail) > > > > > Determines the hierarchy of on-page content Informs navigation Informs visual design Informs technology decisions Allows visitor to find what theyre looking for quickly & easily
  • User G ( 1.0 Programs (Compare Programs) 2.0 Faculty & Research 3.0 Student Life & Services 4.0 About Us Undergraduate Programs Faculty Study Abroad Quick Facts & Rankings Full-Time MBA Academic Departments Campus Life History Clubs & Organizations Vision Community & Diversity Smith Leadership Events Administrative Offices Part-Time MBA Executive MBA Accounting & Information Assurance Decision, Operations & Information Technologies Finance Executive Education Logistics, Business & Public Policy MS Programs PhD Program Management & Organization Marketing Centers & Labs Career Services Office of Development and Alumni Relations Office of Finance & Administration Office of Global Initiatives Office of Human Resources Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship Office of Marketing Communications Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) Office of Smith IT Center for Digital Innovation, Technology, and Strategy (DIGITS) Office of Smith Programs and Events (OSPE) Center for Excellence in Service Center for Health Information and Decision Systems (CHIDS) Contact Us Center for Leadership, Innovation & Change (CLIC) Supply Chain Management Center Center for Complexity in Business Center for Social Value Creation Center for Financial Policy Behavioral Laboratory Legend: Financial Markets Laboratory Core Site Published Research Section Seminars & Events Mini Site External Link Search Home
  • User G ( 1.0 Programs (Compare Programs) 2.0 Faculty & Research 3.0 Student Life & Ser