University website design: best recommendations and guidelines
University students often take challenging tests. But what about the universities themselves? Well, one of the most important tests for them is getting a really good representative website! If you represent a university, our digital agency is ready to help you turn your idea into a website, fix your existing site or build one from scratch, have a website redesign, or optimize it in any other way. One of our areas our expertise is Drupal, and we are glad to share the benefits and examples of using Drupal for university websites. So here’s a few recommendations for university website design.
University websites: designed to accommodate different audiences!
University websites serve different audiences and need to attract them all. This may include future and current students, teachers, staff, alumni, sponsors, and parents. They also contain lots of content that needs to be organized well. They need to be both informative and attractive. These are among the most important points in the recommendations and guidelines for university website design.
Best design recommendations for university website design
Providing different content to different audience personas
Considering the diversity of your audience, it’s a very good idea to dedicate different website parts to these different audiences. You can lead them there by asking their role on the main page. This will let you avoid information clutter, quickly give everyone what they are looking for, provide logical steps for them to make, as well as using design tricks and language style that these user types will appreciate.
Making important website pages easy to find
University websites are rich in content, so help your users find what they need. The About, Admission, Tuition and Aid, Programs and Courses, Contacts, and other pages should be near at hand.
You need to think of a clear menu structure. Additional navigation elements like breadcrumbs could also very useful. A powerful search bar will also quickly lead users to the desired content — faculty information, specific course, schedule, and so on.
All navigation elements should be easy to see and convenient to use in accordance with the best practices of UX design.
Specifying university name and logo on every page
Your audience may easily get lost in endless subdivisions or affiliates of your university. Sometimes, it is hard to guess without knowing that a particular college also belongs to you.
You can fix this by stating the main university name on every page of your website. In addition, it will be very useful to many people who arrive at your website from pages other than the main page. Special attention needs to be paid to an attractive logo and fonts.
Displaying an online university prospectus
A traditional prospectus telling the university’s benefits and milestones looks good in paper. However, the times have come to move it online where it will look even better. This will multiply its potential readers manifold, and reach beyond geographical boundaries.
Your university prospectus should be conspicuously placed and easy to find via the website’s navigation. It can be presented as a colorful PDF file.
Providing the list of university programs
Prospective students browse more often for the study programs than faculties. They may be unaware that your university has their desired course. Sometimes, they look for it in the wrong faculty’s section. So the programs need special attention and prominent listing.
Adding university video tours, 3D maps, and photos
When choosing the university, future students want to know what it feels like to be there. High-quality photos and inspirational videos about university life, studies, parties, and the campus will encourage them to apply. Please don’t forget that everyone can tell stock images from real photos.
When it comes to tours about the university, institutions also invite prospective students to physical ones, but videos and 3D maps are awesome for an inspirational start.
Providing social media integration + special admission channels
Being present on social media is something that goes without saying. Sharing buttons for content, links to your social media pages, and social media feeds are incredibly useful with the young audience. The UX design of the buttons should be well thought-out — they need to encourage users to click. Auto-posting features could additionally save your staff time.
However, there is one special thing to consider. You will greatly benefit from creating dedicated social media channels (pages or groups) that are meant for admission processes only.
Providing fine-grained user access to website areas
Universities have complex structures and workflows, and the same is true for their websites. Many pages should be available to particular user roles with different actions allowed. This includes staff-only areas, personal cabinets, and much more.
Sensitive information needs a special level of protection — sometimes even two-factor authentication. This technique implies an additional step in the login procedure (one-time password, SMS code etc.).
Clearly describing the admission procedures
Young people are usually fond of quests. But they won’t appreciate them on university websites when it comes to finding the admission procedures!
Your website needs to clearly show all the steps needed to take for admission together with their deadlines. Using UX design like fonts, color, and call-to-action buttons will be especially helpful.
Taking care of website’s mobile-friendliness
The bulk of your prospective students represent generation Z, who mostly browse websites from smartphones. So do not shock them with a poor mobile display of your website!
Either responsive web design or a mobile website version will be a key to their hearts, because it will make all the content, navigation elements, call-to-actions well-positioned and easy to use on mobile screens.
Making your website multilingual
There can hardly be a website more international in nature than a university website. It will be great to create website versions in different languages. Thanks to that, it will be easier to find and read for a huge number of users.
Your content should look professional, so it’s a good idea to hire a translator at least for the main website’s information. As it is cumbersome to translate 100% of such a complex website, you can leave certain parts of it in the original language. This is better than using automatic translation tools — anyone can do that in their browser if they want to.
Providing payment system integration for donations
Anyone who wants to help your university should be able to do it easily. Donors, parents, or alumni will appreciate an integrated payment system for smooth payments.
Get a great university website design now!
Your audience will judge your university by its website. That’s today’s reality, now generation Z is likely to make decisions. So prepare them a tasty cake with a cherry on top that is impossible to resist!
Drupal fits educational websites like a glove. It fulfills all the above mentioned and many other recommendations and tips for university website design. Oxford, Stanford, Rutgers, and 70% of all other universities trust it.
So contact our experienced Drupal experts for creating a university website for you or optimizing your existing one. It will be awesome!