Lund University has launched a new 3 year project with the aim of developing our presence on the web. The project will focus on improving our website (which is composed of 2 main domains, and at least 500 subdomains) in terms of how we publish, the online functions we offer and the management of content. I’ll be writing the project plan over the next few months and will be formally leading the project from September 2009.
This is an awesome opportunity for the university; over the last few years it’s become clear that the service our websites give to our users is not of the quality they expect and that change, and improvement, is definitely needed. We also need to address our presence on the web, beyond our ‘official’ websites and start engaging our target groups in a better way.
I’ve started a new blog: www.lu.se/futureweb (this is broken right now, working on fixing it 26th June) which contains information about the project. I must be clear, it it not an admissions blog although any input regarding the state of our current website, and features we could develop would be gratefully received.
I’ll still be maintaining this blog for the near future but will hopefully find another member of staff to start contributing application and admissions content.
Students value website content over the ‘look and feel’ of a university website, are put off by out of date information and want to be contacted through social networking. These are some of the results of a new survey by Noel Levitz, who surveyed 1000 college bound students in the US.
The report totally emphasizes the power of content when it shows that an alarming 57% of the respondents would drop a school off their list, of possible study destinations, if the website content is out of date, incorrect or unhelpful. This is in contrast to the lower 16% who said they’d take a school off their list if they don’t find what they need. Morale – big sites with unmanaged stinking content (to coin one of Gerry McGovern’s favourite phrases) are damaging your brand.
The report also indicates a willingness to read content and scroll through content. What’s interesting about this data is that it also shows a high frequency of printing or emailing the content – both actions which could be tracked, and used to measure the performance of the page.
When I first saw this report mentioned on Twitter the information that only 3% of applicants found a school online via research on MySpace or Facebook seemed a little surprising at first; but it only takes a few seconds thought to realize that people don’t begin a search on a social networking site. Further, the survey then goes on to show that students are positive about universities using social networks to promote their courses, or contact the students directly. I think an excellent opportunity for this, in the Swedish Higher Education sector, is with the awesome studera.nu- national admissions to Swedish higher education facebook group. Huge opportunities exist, to help students in the recruitment process, if the universities and studera.nu itself, were to engage with the students there.
There’s a lot of good stuff packed in this 12 page report; and it totally emphasizes the value of simply asking our target audience questions. Higher Education has a unique advantage in that our existing, or potential, customers are so easy to identify and research.
The Noel Levitz report – Scrolling Towards Enrollment
I recently held a workshop at the Suniweb conference in Malmö on Google Analytics. The conference is a meeting place for web people from Swedish higher education. My main aim with my workshop was to see if we could set up a network to share analytics data from our own websites. I see the main advantages of this as:
- Generating awesome benchmarking data e.g. how does my website compare with others in the sector?
- Increased confidence in the analytics data we generate
- An opportunity to share best practice
There was a reasonably positive response to this idea, so over the next week or so I’ll thrash out how we can best share data, without feeling like we’re being exploited but at the same time make it worthwhile.
If you’ve got any suggestions, or want to know more, just leave a comment…
Here’s my presentation from the workshop.