By Daisy Perper — Jul 21, 2021 11:00 AM
As it’s almost that time again to welcome students back for Fall semester, we thought it would be a great time to highlight how colleges & universities can utilize ever-evolving digital media trends on their websites to inspire and build emotional connections with their audience. Serving as an informational hub for both prospective and current students, higher education websites have the potential to be the starting point of their future.
The power of visual storytelling comes in many different shapes and forms. Starting with creating a compelling look and feel that reflects your unique character and personality, your digital story can be connected through each and every page with various tactics. The goal of this is to invoke a real response from your visitors that keeps them engaged, and coming back for more. While they don’t all have to tell the same story, each page should be held to the same standards of rich, engaging content and visual design. As Higher Ed websites can be large and potentially overwhelming, it’s important that elements work together to create a story that is easily digestible.
Colorado Mesa University, which recently went through a website redesign, does a great job of storytelling through visual design. Right off the bat as seen on the homepage, the CMU website uses a mixture of digital media tactics including video, photography, infographics and more to capture the attention of their audience. This is made simple through utilizing a custom page inside Cascade CMS which allows users to create visual pages in any configuration without needing to add any code. To learn more about this project, check out our recently released CMU case study.
Another great example of inspiring through digital storytelling is Clemson University. With vibrant orange and purple colors, Clemson welcomes their visitors with an invitation to be part of their tradition while guiding their homepage experience to explore university history, academic excellence, news & events, athletics and more. Each component includes compelling, well positioned call-to-actions encouraging the next step of their experience.
Success Stories & Career Paths
What better way to inspire both prospective and current students than to feature positive success stories that your visitor can relate to as well as utilize as a potential guide for their own journey. Not only can these be filtered through digital personalization, but take it a step further and highlight paths that were taken to achieve end goals. Featuring career paths will walk students through possible degree programs, classes, and extra curricular activities for said career or idea, and can also feature a visual outline of resources and university support that is available along the way.
Point Park University does a great job with taking alumni profiles to the next level while providing additional resources and guidance. Each alumni profile includes current job titles, undergraduate/graduate background and then provides a full profile with a Q&A series covering career pathways. Included in the profile are related resources to utilize throughout the university website that again support potential stpes and pathways.
Real-life Engagement Opportunities
With an end goal of sparking individual inspiration and developing that emotional connection, providing easily accessible resources and engagement opportunities will help further drive home that this is the place that will get them to where they want to be. This can be accomplished by providing that “next step” through various engagement outlets further encouraging visitors to continue on in their journey with a human experience. Whether it is providing a scheduler to set-up an appointment, engaging in a real-time chat, or simply filling out a form, you want to see your visitors take a leap of faith and convert on a more personal level.
Chapman University not only does a great job of highlighting their students & alumni but also provides multiple outlets for prospective visitors to reach out to these individuals on a personal level. Right on their homepage, there is an “Ask a Student” button that brings visitors to the public directly with various filter options. This is a great way to easily connect prospects with current and past students who are in their interested line of study. From there, visitors can push a “chat” button to reach out to an individual. The open opportunity for this one-on-one experience is so valuable for students looking for guidance, mentoring, or even just conversation from their peers.
There are many ways to connect with your audience, but providing valuable, relevant digital experiences and engagement outlets may help inspire that one click or action that is the first step towards achieving their goals.