Let me just start by saying that websites are really challenging! As a marketer who regularly agonises over the intricacies of our website experience, I understand it’s hard to keep up with all the latest best practice out there for web optimisation — and evener harder to execute. What I’ve learned is that bringing fresh eyes into the process always helps.
Our student engagement team here at UniQuest perform a web audit for our clients every six months to offer an additional perspective focused on improving the prospective student experience. They talk to students every day, so they have a strong understanding for their preferences and behaviour. Knowing this audience well, our teams are on the look-out for points on a website that may cause drop-off.
Below are some of the quicker-fixes we recommend which you can adopt today to offer a better online experience for your prospective students.
1. Mind the number of CTAs you have on your homepage
This one is tough. You have a lot of great things to share about your university, and your website serves a diverse audience beyond prospective students – e.g. current students, alumni, parents, your local community – so it’s easy to pack a lot of information on your homepage.
But, you know that too many competing calls-to-action reduce click through. To narrow things down, you’ve got to be a bit cut throat. When targeting prospective students, if the content you’re promoting on your homepage isn’t driving them toward your desired outcomes, then don’t give it star billing on your homepage. Keep the focus on only your key goals.
2. Label your contact numbers
Don’t make students guess who will be on the other end of the phone when they call you. Clearly mark the department that your telephone numbers belong to.
3. Don’t inundate students with loads of contact numbers
Don’t leave the decision up to your prospective students on who the right person is for them to talk to. Keep it simple by offering just a single phone number per department on your prospective student landing pages.
4. Clearly show that you’re a Trusted Tier 4 Visa Sponsor
International prospects who are not yet familiar with your brand or reputation will need confidence right away that you’re a legitimate sponsor. To highlight your credibility, we recommend including an image on your international student landing pages indicating you’re a Trusted Tier 4 Visa Sponsor.
5. Streamline your enquiry forms
It’s a bit of an art striking the right balance of information you need and the amount of information students are willing to spend the time providing. A few tips to trim your forms:
- Instead of splitting ‘First Name’ and ‘Last Name’ into two required fields, combine them into a single ‘Full Name’ required field
- Provide drop-down options according to your top FAQs in addition to an open response field for your enquiries. This will save time for students with straightforward questions.
- Limit required fields to only the information you absolutely need to respond appropriately to your enquiries. Information like contact details – i.e. email address and name – and the enquiry message. Asks like ‘How did you learn about us’ and ‘join our mailing list’ should be optional.
Best wishes with your website efforts. Any tips of your own, we’d love to hear! Just share your suggestions with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To explore more activities for engaging prospective students online, review our blog Dos & Don’ts for universities hosting web chat events.