In the expanding digital age we live in, a well-designed website is an important component to the success of your university’s online presence. But it can sometimes get confusing determining which web design tactics will be the most effective in engaging potential students.
Let’s take a moment to look at how your college or university can make the most of your online presence through a number of web development tips.
Essentials of Effective Website Development
Taking advantage of the many ways you can enhance your school’s website design can be very beneficial to the overall success of your university in terms of both profit and your public image.
And website development trends and tools evolve as quickly as the world of digital technology does itself, so it’s important to stay up-to-date with the most recent methods of enhancing your web design.
Here are some ways that updating your website design can help you look more appealing to potential students:
Designing for Conversion
One of the main goals of a worthwhile web design is to encourage a visitor to reach out to your university through a call to action.
Whether it’s filling out a form, requesting more information, or signing up for an event, having your website’s visitors be able to perform your desired action easily is an important aspect of good website development.
Here are some ways to find the sweet spot between optimizing for conversion and integrating a beautiful design:
- Bring Attention to the Landing Page
Having colorful, interesting photos or graphics that represent your school is an easy way to grab your visitors’ attention and keep their interest on your site’s landing page.
- Use Directional Cues and Clues
There are many subtle and obvious ways to guide your visitors’ eyes to the things you want them to see or do, and incorporating such cues is a vital aspect of a good website layout.
- Be Above the Fold
Similar to a newspaper, it’s key to keep all the important parts of your site – navigation, search, social buttons – “above the fold,” so to speak. This ensures that vital information can be seen immediately prior to scrolling so visitors can find what they need quickly.
- Consider Your School’s Brand Aesthetic
Overall, your website design can say a lot about your university just by looks alone. Having an aesthetic that represents your university’s overall feel and culture can help to boost your conversion rate.
Designing for User-friendliness
Similar to the basics of conversion design, one of the most important elements of a positive website design is being user-friendly. There are 4 key things worth keeping in mind regarding User Experience Design (UXD):
- Navigation– Is the site searchable? Is the navigation bar easily seen on the landing page? Does the main page have a site map for visitors to use? Can visitors quickly find my location and hours?
- Readability– Is the text large enough to read? Is there enough contrast between the background color and the text? Is the font easy to understand? Tip: avoid obnoxious colors for text, and when in doubt, black or white is the best choice for users.
- Load Time– Does your page load in less than 5 seconds? Does it take longer than 10 seconds for images to load on the page? Statistics show that visitors are less likely to engage with a page if it doesn’t load quickly enough.
- Clean and Simple Design– Are the pages uncluttered? Is the site organized and consistent, or are there too many things going on at once? Are links and buttons properly spaced out? Is the design aesthetically pleasing?
Designing for Responsiveness
From smartphones to tablets, mobile devices have taken over a large portion of the way we work and communicate. And responsive web design, or RWD, is an essential aspect of modern web development.
Having a responsive site is a key feature in the effective design of your university’s website. And it’s not only important to your customers, but to search engines as well, as it offers you the chance to outrank your competitors.
But to clarify, having a site that is mobile-friendly and one that is responsive is not exactly the same thing, though they are similar.
- A site that has a responsive design, meaning it changes its size/layout depending on the device on which it’s viewed, is mobile-friendly.
- But a site that is mobile-friendly, meaning it loads on mobile devices, isn’t necessarily responsive.
Therefore, being sure to incorporate both of these aspects into your web development is vital.
The Importance of Being Responsive
Now more than ever, for successful SEO website development, search engines will reward your website’s rankings if you incorporate a responsive design into your site’s code.
In 2014, for the first time ever in history, mobile exceeded PC usage when it came to accessing content and information, and your customers and potential customers are among these mobile users. Being mobile responsive has become so important that if it’s not a part of your site’s code nearly 60% of internet users won’t even be able to find your site in a search.
Unsure if your site is mobile-friendly? Don’t fret. Google released a tool to check and see if you site passes the test.
Remembering Strength in Numbers
Still not sold on these changes? Here are some more statistics on web design and the importance of being user- and mobile-friendly that could change your mind:
- 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if they find the layout or content to be unattractive (viaAdobe)
- Once your pages load, users form an opinion about your site’s appearance within .05 seconds (viaIronPaper)
- 48% of people cited a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a site (viaIronPaper)
- 77% of agencies believe that a poor website design is a weakness of their client (via Society of Digital Agencies)
Contact Higher Education Marketing
Want some more advice or tips on your school’s web design? Contact us today because we’re always looking to help!