Best Web Development Practices for University Websites

using computer for workWhen thousands of students search the web every year in search of the perfect university, how do you make sure yours is the one they pick? A university website is the first port of call for many prospective students. As it provides an impression of your institution, it’s important to make it as engaging and appealing as possible.

When Pixar launched its interactive Monsters University website in 2012, it gained huge public attention. Many people take to social media to praise its great design and how its interactive features beat those of “real” universities. While it’s a fictional site, it’s clear that brand identity, easy-to-understand content, user-friendliness makes it an ideal university webpage.

As tuition fees in Australian universities continue to increase and competition intensifies, universities and colleges have to work harder to meet the rising student expectations and ensure they stand out from the rest. One way to do this is by creating an engaging website.

Here are the best web development practices for university websites:

Developing a Brand Guideline

A solid brand guideline for all departments within the university ensures design consistency. Select and maintain a complimentary colour palette to unite different areas and microsites, but provide each department with some level of flexibility so they can communicate their unique character. Consistency in font style and size also supports uniformity in site design and brand recognition.

Understanding Each Department’s Objectives

You can communicate a solid message to prospective students by understanding and clarifying the objectives of each department. Allow each to provide information relevant to their goals, while still keeping with the university’s overall inspirations.

Establishing Building Blocks

Develop a range of guidelines from which to build the web page of each department to ensure brand consistency. The main features and core structure of the website must be the same across all sections, but allow faculties and departments to customise the content of their pages so they can communicate their objectives more clearly.

Being Visual and Verbal

Visualisation is an effective web development strategy to attract students. It doesn’t only help communicate the university’s capacity and qualifications; it also overcomes potential language barriers.

Resources:

http://www.voodoocreative.com.au/web-development
http://mashable.com/2013/10/09/web-design-inspiration-2/
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/06/australian-universities-slip-times-higher-education-rankings