It’s more competitive than ever in the higher education market. Check out three tips you can use to build an engaging website that helps you stand out from the crowd.
From classic academic and research universities to private education institutions and online universities that have sprung up recently to offer alternative pathways to education, the higher education industry today has found itself in a highly competitive and crowded space.
In Asia, student enrollment numbers have skyrocketed as a result of rising demands for higher education from the belief that a good education will expand one’s options. Additionally, with strong support from Asian governments to establish an education hub that attracts the best students and universities globally, many international universities have successfully established their presence in the region.
For example, the Yale-NUS College in Singapore was founded in a collaboration between Yale University and National University of Singapore. International branch campuses affiliated with prominent global universities are also now a dime a dozen across Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and China.
So, what does all this mean for higher education institutions today? For one, competition is stiff out there, and marketing will play a bigger role in their success. It also means that marketers in the higher education space will need to be aware of the latest trends and consumer behaviors and re-evaluate existing strategies to stay in the game.
In today's digital world, websites often form the first impressions of your institution, and visitors will decide to initiate further contact or look somewhere else based on their website experience.
For prospective students, your website should be the one-stop information center where they can easily obtain all the information they want to know about study curriculums, faculty members, tuition fees and financial support, and campus life. If you are looking to attract a world-class professor, your department will likely stand out from the crowd if comprehensive information on research opportunities are readily available. Last but not the least, when applying for more funding, including a link that showcases all of the credentials your institution has achieved will greatly improve your chances of securing that highly sought-after research grant.
While it is safe to say that most higher education institutions worth their salt should already have all of this information, it is a different matter to ensure that it is all presented in an easily digestible manner so that visitors can find everything they need easily.
Here are three tips for marketers in higher education institutions to build an intuitive website experience and communicate a strong reputation and prestige for your institution.
Many higher education institutions boast an impressive faculty of esteemed professors who have published groundbreaking research pieces, but it will not help if no one can find them.
A common factor among successful websites is intuitive navigation, i.e. visitors instinctively know where to go in order to find the information they need, without having to browse through pages of irrelevant information. When visitors like what they see and are able to get their burning questions answered, it leaves a good first impression for your institution. They will also be more likely to visit your website again, or send in an inquiry to find out more.
At Bray Leino Splash, we recently supported the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKY SPP), a leading institute of Public Policy in the region, with a website revamp to attract and address the needs of public service aspirants from around the world. While they have always had a healthy content repository, more could be done to leverage existing assets to communicate the reputation and expertise that LKY SPP has under its belt.
Through an architecture overhaul and redesign conducted over the Progress Sitefinity platform, the new website is not only informative and easy to navigate, it is also significantly more visually appealing to visitors.
While academic awards, global rankings, profiles of faculty members and research papers are staples on your website, putting a creative spin on the usual content strategies can portray your institution in a different light. For example, every year, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) showcases the artworks of graduating students on their website. Not only does this create a platform for students to showcase their portfolio, it also ensures a pipeline of fresh content that inspires future students who are looking to pursue an arts education.
Think about what sets your institution apart from others, and how you can leverage existing assets to bring your institution to life to prospective students.
Lastly, achieving Search Engine Optimization (SEO) compliance will help you get the most mileage out of your content marketing efforts. By customizing your content headlines based on common search terms, it ensures that your website appears prominently in search engine results. Apart from supporting the LKY SPP in their website revamp, achieving SEO compliance was also a priority for them, and the Sitefinity platform is able to integrate SEO tools that improve content discoverability.
Through a combination of an intuitive web experience, carefully curated content, and SEO best practices, the LKY SPP has since reported an increase in web traffic of 62%.
With all the hype on user experience these days, website design is now top-of-mind for higher education institutions and their stakeholders. For marketers to drive success for their higher education institutions, now is the time to start developing a user-friendly website that effectively positions your institution in the best possible light.
Andrew Kwek is the technical director at Bray Leino Splash. He has been in the digital interactive industry for 20 years. He started as a developer and moved to a management role. Throughout his professional career, he has been involved in many sites revamps, campaign builds and maintenance.
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