According to nngroup.com, there are essential design guidelines a web designer needs to follow in order to successfully create a university/school website. I learned a lot from this:
- It is important to clearly identify the university on every page
The name of the college or university should be clearly visible on every page. Apparently, not everyone arrives at the website from the homepage! NNgroup says that many will arrive on internal pages via search. This means that for subsites and microsites especially, it is essential that users know which university they’re looking at.
- Use images that reflect the university’s values and priorities
This makes sense to my previous post. “Visitors make value judgments about your school based on the images that you use.” So, like JMU’s Duke Dog on the homepage, a few photos of sporting events could help users see an emphasis on athletics. A video gallery with thumbnails of people that all look the same means that users will see a lack of diversity.
- Make the “About Us” page count
I didn’t have a chance to look at either HBS’ or Johns Hopkins’ about us page, but according to NNgroup, the About Us page is one of the top places where prospective students go to decide if a university is a good fit for them!
With these design principles in mind, I’ll forever look at University websites differently. I wonder who designs them!