What Content Matters Most On Your University’s Website?

Thursday, February 26th, 2015 at 10:00am
What content matters most on your university's website?

What content matters the most on your university’s website? This is a tough question, that lacks a definite answer. However, there are growing trends and statistics that can shed some light on universal best practices. While every institution is unique, most of their websites have similar content: admissions, financial aid, academic programs, student life, athletics, alumni, etc. They also share similar target audiences: potential students, parents of potential students, current students, alumni, donors, and other personas we’ve previously discussed.

Areas of Interest

Let’s start with the information provided by your content. You must begin by asking yourself, who are your target audiences? Next, what are each of those audiences’ priorities? Once you know who you want to reach, and what’s important to them, you can begin to create your content strategy. If your school does not have a strong athletics program, and you’re not giving out many athletic scholarships, don’t make your athletics content a top priority. If, however, you are known for your nationally ranked football team, then you will want to spend more time crafting content around a topic that you know is the main attraction of your institution’s website.

One topic that is universal, is cost. How much does it cost to attend your university? What are the costs and options associated with financial aid, student housing, and student services? Potential students and their parents both rank this is as one of their top priorities when researching universities. Remember that students get almost entirely through the decision-making process before ever speaking to someone in admissions, so your website’s content is more important than ever.

What are their content priorities when visiting a college website? [Graph]

Types of Content

Now that you know what topics are most important to your target audiences, you need to figure out how to best deliver that content. Millennials tend to gravitate towards visual content: videos, pictures, and infographics. Parents are more interested in facts and numbers, so make sure those are easy for them to quickly find. If the desired information is too difficult to find, you may lose potential students. Time and attention spans are limited, so you want to invest in content that provides the most relevant information, in the quickest, and easiest to digest manner. A tall order for any content creator, but that’s the name of the game - make the most of what little mental bandwidth you get.

Accessing Content

A growing number of universities have already implemented responsive web design. The reason being that desktop web browsers are no longer the only, or easiest, way to access content. Especially with younger generations, more content is being consumed via mobile and tablet than ever before. Research shows that these numbers are only going to increase. This means your content needs to be accessible from any platform, and not just accessible but enjoyable. Ask yourself how many times you’ve visited a non-responsive website on your smartphone and given up because it was too difficult to navigate. A good user experience means a human experience. Removing as many obstacles as you can, will help ensure that your target audiences consume the content, and take the actions you desire.

Mobile's Share of Web Traffic [Graph]

Conclusion

While all of this information can be overwhelming, it’s good to remember that your target audiences can often feel the same way about all of the information you throw at them. A good practice is to put yourself in your target’s shoes - balance what you want to them take away, with what they want to take away from your website. Don’t be afraid to try new things, A/B testing is a great way to find out what works best for your specific audiences. Record your findings, and you’ll have the beginning of a documented content strategy which will be integral to your university’s digital success.

What content performs the best on your university's website? What types of content perform best? Have you seen an increase in mobile traffic? Tell us about the trends you’ve noticed in the comments below!

 

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