People are looking to higher-ed websites to answers all their college questions. These institutions must offer a user experience that meets their navigation, design, and mobile usability expectations. 



What are the main purpose and audience groups for your higher education site? These are two important pillars to establish when setting out to improve the user experience of your institution’s website.


Prospective students and their parents are probably the main audience group, and they have a list of questions they want to find answers to on each school website they visit. In this day and age, people want fast service, and this applies to college information, the application process, and enrollment on your institution’s website. 



4 steps to optimize your higher-ed website for user experience


Higher education websites represent the university and its values. A good user experience leaves an impression on visitors and increases the likelihood that they will explore the website and learn more.


Understanding the reason your audience visits your website will help you set goals for offering the best user experience possible. Because user experience depends largely on the testing, updating, and analysis of the audience’s needs, a good website must evaluate these things thoroughly. 


To build a user-friendly higher Ed website, you should evaluate four basic parts of your current site, including navigation, mobile-friendliness, ease of use, and up-to-date content. 


1. Identify your needs and goals for the website 


Be consistent with establishing your brand throughout the site. Infuse the university’s values into its content. This will not only help create a clear purpose for the site, but it will also help you connect with the audience by showing that you stay true to your values and goals. 


On a higher education institution’s website, certain pieces of information should be easily accessible. For example, there should be a clear enrollment path and easy directions to access information about enrollment. Once you have a list of reasons users visit your webpage, this will help revamp its user experience. These represent your goals for the website. 


2. Create a clear path of navigation throughout the website 


When you visit a website, how long do you want to search for what you’re looking for? Not very long. 


NN/g Group did a study that shows the average person will visit a webpage and leave after only 10-20 seconds. This means, if users cannot find what they are looking for within that time frame, they will likely move on. Effective website navigation pairs a well-implemented design with analysis and user testing. 


A good navigation system is designed to eliminate confusion and streamline information to make enrollment easy for your user. No one wants to have to sift through useless information before finding what they actually visited for. If enrollment and application process are the top two reasons people visit your website, those two things should be among the easiest pages to find on the home screen. Narrow down your website’s goals and the user’s needs to find a balance between making the design clear and using relevant content. 


3. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly 


Mobile devices today present the same content as computers, so that means your website needs to be designed to suit mobile displays. From fitting into various screen dimensions to design choices that work better for a mobile touch interface, these things must be taken into consideration when making, testing, and creating a mobile-friendly interface. 


In other words, because people today rely on mobile devices to display the same content their computers do, you need to have a mobile-first design. This means creating a design compatible with mobile devices and functionality that makes its usability fluid. 


4. Make a plan to update your website frequently 


Most great things that last require maintenance, cleaning, and upgrades from time to time, and websites are no different. Creating a stellar user experience also means reevaluating updates and cleaning outdated content that is no longer accurate or able to be presented in a useful way. 


One way to update your website is by thoroughly checking for new content or content that can be reformatted for better presentation. Perhaps your home page can highlight new aspects of the college or university that would be appealing to prospective students? Or maybe you can add a new feature that would connect prospective students to the school in a different way. These are all things that impact the overall user experience and engage users to further explore the website. 


KWALL can help


KWALL specializes in optimizing the content and design of higher education websites. We understand the challenges you face with the school website user experience. We also offer services that will create a plan to optimize your website and continue to help you maintain it. Contact KWALL for help rebuilding your website’s design, mobile design, user experience strategy, and brand management.


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