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Consider a typical college’s website for a moment. It’s likely a little out of date. You’re probably not able to read it on your phone without a lot of pinching and zooming.
The good news is that this issue does not affect all colleges. There are many schools with beautiful, helpful, and user-friendly websites; you just have to know where to look.
A college website must attract and educate current and prospective students, as well as their families, alumni, professors, and donors. It must be user-friendly, provide value to various personas, and direct visitors to other parts of the site. It should be visually appealing as well because it serves as the campus’s virtual entrance.
We’ve decided to highlight the best of the best college websites for students below. Check them out and discover what makes their web design so brilliant.
The website of a university is the single most influential resource used by prospective students when searching for a higher education institution. That means your college website is extremely important.
A university website must meet the wants of a large number of people. Every website must provide important information to current students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni. At the same time, a college’s website should encourage new students and donors while also assisting in the recruitment of staff.
College websites must be kept up to date with upcoming events, announcements, and information on classes, majors, and programs to meet these goals.
Overall, a university website must attract and inform users by providing relevant, timely, and engaging content that is tailored to a variety of users, which is no easy task!
The best college websites for students should have most or all of the following features:
First and foremost, you should talk about your educational programs. If you have a large number of academic departments, we recommend including a navigation system to help you find what you’re looking for. These can be placed on a page or in the top navigation bar as a mega menu.
Aside from academic degrees, listing the individual courses available at your university is also a good idea. These are useful for prospective students who want to compare your programs to those of other universities.
Adding profiles of your professors, researchers, and other staff is a simple way to give your website some personality. It’s also a great way to highlight your top employees’ expertise and accolades.
Is your university’s campus known for its convenient location or natural beauty? If so, share it through videos, photos, guided tours, and other media.
Financial and employment statistics are also important these days. How many of your university graduates get jobs after they graduate?
How many students receive financial aid? As tuition rates rise, you must convince students that attending your university is a good financial investment.
Social proof is an excellent method of marketing your university. Share the experiences of your current and former students through videos, photos, interviews, and other content.
Finally, include a method for students to register for courses and/or learn more about your university.
While the specifics will vary depending on your school’s structure, it is critical to include at least one method for potential students to contact you.
Check this out: 20 Best Online Tutoring Websites In 2022
Here’s an overview of the best college websites for students we’ll be discussing. They include:
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Rice University is named one of the best college websites because of its streamlined main menu and interactive virtual tour.
The University, located in Houston, Texas, is a private research University. With a student-faculty ratio of 6:1, Rice is known for its high level of research as well as its strong academic reputation.
The Rice website promotes upcoming events as well as statistics about the university’s rankings and student body.
Here are the standout features of the Rice University website:
Because of its unique homepage layout and concise menu, Kenyon College has one of the best college websites. Kenyon College, located in Gambier, Ohio, is a small private liberal arts college. Although Kenyon has only 1,660 students, its website’s unique and streamlined design puts its head and shoulders above the sites of many larger schools. Their website was even recognized as a Webby Award winner this year.
Here are the standout features of Kenyon College:
Cornell University’s website is one of the best college websites because of its user-friendly features and simple menu.
The University, located in Ithaca, New York, is a private Ivy League university with seven undergraduate colleges and seven graduate divisions.
As a land-grant university, Cornell’s website emphasizes research while also providing important admissions and academic information to current and prospective students.
Here are the standout features of Cornell’s website:
McGill University is on this list of the best college websites for students due to its clean, minimalist homepage and empowering Call To Actions (CTAs). It’s frequently ranked as one of Canada’s top universities.
International students make up 30.5 percent of the student body, making this college a truly global university. With student profiles, the university’s website reflects its global focus and commitment to diversity.
Here are the standout features of McGill University’s web design:
Western Washington University is the northernmost university that can be found in the contiguous United States. It’s consistently ranked as one of the West’s best public universities.
The university’s design department provides graduate students with the opportunity to broaden their skill sets through a holistic approach. Its website is interactive, which helps to inform and engage visitors.
Here are the standout features of the Western Washington University (WWU) web design:
The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford is the University of Pittsburgh’s regional campus.
This school, nestled among the Allegheny Mountains, offers 115 academic programs to its 1,500 students.
With a carousel of homepage images, their website highlights the variety of outdoor activities available. It gives prospective students an idea of what life at the university is like.
Here are the standout features of the University of Pittsburgh’s web design :
Because of its engaging hero image and clear user pathways, Loyola University Maryland is one of the best college websites for students.
Loyola University Maryland, located in Baltimore, is one of the country’s oldest Jesuit institutions. The Loyola Maryland website promotes the school’s Catholic values while also providing prospective students and donors with a wealth of information and opportunities.
Here are the standout features of Loyola’s web design:
Northwestern’s website stands out as one of the best college websites because of its use of bold images, a mega menu, and strong positioning. The University of Northwestern is well-known for its journalism, management, and music schools. It’s one of the most prestigious schools in the world. Its website emphasizes not only the school’s prominent research focus but also its dedication to cultivating a diverse, inclusive, global community.
Here are the standout features of Northwestern’s web design:
University of Arizona’s website has a friendly tone and easy accessibility. This made it one of the best college websites for students on our list. The University of Arizona is a large public land-grant university in sunny Tucson, Arizona. The University’s website not only covers all of the academic information that prospective students are interested in, but it also provides a comprehensive overview of Tucson’s culture and experience.
Here are the standout features of the University of Arizona’s website:
The University of Oxford is the oldest in the English-speaking world, having been in operation since 1096. Oxford’s website appeals to both its student population and a broader audience of individuals interested in research topics.
Here are the standout features of the University of Oxford’s website:
Stanford, another prestigious American university, has over 17,000 students. Their campus in Stanford, California, is 8,180 acres in size, making it one of the largest university campuses in the country. Stanford’s website covers many aspects of the school’s mission. This includes events, academics, research, healthcare, campus life, and admissions.
It’s one of the best college websites for students because of its user-friendliness, imagery, and quotes from faculty and students.
Here are the standout features of Stanford University’s web design:
The University Of Notre Dame, located in South Bend, Indiana, is a Catholic university that serves 8,000 undergraduate students. The university is known for both its football team and its prestigious academics.
Here are the standout features of the University Of Notre Dame’s web design:
The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) was founded by Benjamin Franklin. It’s one of the nine colonial colleges established before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The UPenn website provides a straightforward, clear view of the school’s priorities.
The university’s accessibility, connectable links, and eye-catching imagery made it recognized as one of the best college websites for students.
Here are the standout features of the University of Pennsylvania’s web design:
UNT Dallas has one of the best college websites because of its use of images and photos, live chat options, and optimized user pathways. UNT Dallas is Dallas’ only public university. The university is ranked first in the state for serving first-generation college students.
Their website features clear CTAs that connect prospective and current students to valuable resources about programs, financial aid, advisors, and DACA.
Here are the standout features of the UNT Dallas’ website:
Our list of best college websites for students includes the Rhode Island School of Design Alumni website. This is one of the country’s most prestigious fine arts schools. The alumni website reflects the school’s design-driven mission, showcasing unique and interactive elements that visitors find engaging and attractive.
Here are the standout features of the RISD Alumni website:
The University Of British Columbia (UBC) is a prestigious Canadian university in Vancouver. The university’s website is simple and clean, with a strong emphasis on campus news and research.
Here are the standout features of UBC’s web design:
Oberlin College, in Ohio, has a long history of progressivism and student engagement. The university’s website highlights its diverse academic offerings, which include a music conservatory and a strong liberal arts emphasis.
Here are the standout features of the Oberlin website:
Georgetown University is a Washington, D.C.-based private research university. This highly selective school is also the country’s oldest Catholic university. The Georgetown website caters to a diverse audience, ranging from students and parents to alumni, faculty, and staff.
Georgetown was added as one of the best college websites because of its effective homepage video and student perspectives.
Here are the standout features of the Georgetown University website:
With over 51,000 students, the University of Texas at Austin is one of the largest public universities in the United States. The university’s website features a comprehensive main menu with all of the information prospective students and parents require. A set of four CTA buttons that link to high-demand pages also helps visitors find what they’re looking for. For its eye-catching CTAs and stylish color scheme, UT Austin made our list of best college websites for students.
Here are the standout features of the UT Austin website design:
Morehouse College is an Atlanta, Georgia-based private historically black men’s college. The school is well-known for its contributions to the civil rights movement in the United States, as well as its active alumni network, known as “Morehouse Men.” Its reveal-on-scroll homepage and effective tagline qualify it to be on every list of best college websites.
Here are the standout features of the Morehouse College website:
Bucknell’s website is designed by Fastspot. It was nominated for the Best Website Redesign at the 2014 Webby Awards. It’s an excellent example of website personalization in action. When you visit their website for the first time, you are greeted with the default, impersonal homepage.
Here are the standout features of Bucknell’s website:
There are numerous best practices to incorporate into your web design strategy if you want to improve your college or university website. First, you should use your website’s written content, imagery, videos, and CTAs to tell the story of your school and what it stands for.
Then, consider how you can incorporate the following elements of an effective university website design:
Conduct user research to find out what your website visitors are looking for. Conduct a website audit and audience review to determine who is using your site so you can take additional steps to understand their specific needs.
Less is more in this case. Your website should be simple and to the point. Also, keep in mind that white space is your website’s best friend.
Your CTAs should be brief and simple to understand.
Check that your site complies with accessibility and compliance laws like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
Bring your campus and academic programs to life with virtual tours and videos from faculty and alumni, as well as extensive photo albums of various campus locations and other multimedia elements.
Visitors should be able to tell right away that your website belongs to your university. Ensure that your school’s colors and logos are consistent and presented appealingly.
According to statistics, the average member of the upcoming generation of college students, Gen Z, unlocks their phone 79 times per day (more than any other generation). Your university website must be mobile-optimized to provide the same value to mobile users as it does to computer visitors.
To build a digital connection with students, you should use empowering language, a friendly tone, and pronouns like ‘you,’ ‘us,’ and ‘we.’
To create your college website, you can start by following these simple steps below:
Begin by making a list of all the pages that you need to create. Go old-school by writing the title of each page on post-it notes and sticking them to the wall. That way, you can easily move and rearrange the sub-pages beneath the main pages until they make sense to everyone.
In terms of enrollment marketing, you want your school’s brand to be consistent and recognizable across all digital platforms, as well as any collateral material you create.
Hire a professional photographer to capture candid shots of school life. Obtain a release form from anyone who may appear in the photographs. If the school has uniforms or branded apparel, ensure that everyone wears it on photo day. If you must use stock photos, choose ones that appear less posed and more candid.
People scan the internet rather than read it. They look at headlines, images, and bullet points. Assume that your visitors’ attention span is that of a goldfish; focus on headlines that can stand alone if no one bothers to read the body copy.
Your target demographic spends more time on their phones than on their computers. Your website must be designed with “mobile first” in mind. Google now only considers your website’s mobile version when determining where you rank on their search engine results page.
Every college websites serve as the hub for all of its marketing efforts. Every parent or student will visit a website at some point, so don’t underestimate the importance of a well-branded website and a great user experience that truly reflects your school’s culture.
Section titles that are clean and neat, a low-profile top navigation bar, and a consistent page layout can all help visitors orient themselves with the content. Make your page headings stand out such as through color or font size, so that readers understand the page’s main purpose.
Examine the available academic support services, counseling and health centers, student activities, and safety statistics. These are some of the most important things to look for when searching for a college website. Always take the time to find out the information that is most important to you.
To attract students, a college website should concentrate on the interests and needs of the student. They should also showcase their faculty, engage in their comment section, talk about their alumni, and make the website mobile-friendly.
The college’s official website will provide you with important facts and figures as well as information about the college’s mission. It may also provide you with some subjective information, such as the school newspaper and student blogs.
Yes, a ‘Call To Action’ can lead visitors and students to important content on the college’s website as well as guide them through.
Branding differentiates your college website from other websites. It also makes it easy for your website to be easily noticed wherever it may appear.