Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

Super Fast Mobile Home Page Features Academic Program Choices

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What makes a university home page earn a "super fast" designation for display time on a smartphone? A score of 92/100 on Google PageSpeed Insights. That is the only home page I've ever tested that scored 80 or higher. 

On mobile, and everywhere else, every second counts with impatient web visitors. 

Of course, speed without content that speaks to the top tasks of potential students is not an effective marketing combination. The Full Sail home page passes that test as well:
  • A horizontal array of 8 major academic program areas is immediately visible on a large screen in less than 5 seconds when the home page opens. On a smartphone, you'll see the first two areas and easily scroll to the others.
  • Clicking on your area of interest brings a list of the specific programs in each area. 
  • You can move on in seconds to an individual program of special interest.
Mobile "Experience" Also High

On mobile, the User Experience rating is high as well: 99/100. Unlike the speed rating, most college and university website win a 90+ User Experience rating.

For more on the Speed result, put the Full Sail home page URL into Google PageSpeed Insights and check the "8 Passed Rules." No site is perfect so also note the 2 "Consider Fixing" points. And then, of course, compare the results with your home page.

Follow the Link of the Week

To visit a university home page that is as rare as a unicorn, visit the Full Sail University home page

Original Link of the Week Page

Regular readers will notice that we are again posting a Link of the Week selection within the blog. I've decided to continue posting new Link selections here. Each week's description is available to future visitors and the blog, unlike the website, is searchable.

To review earlier selections for 2016 and previous years, visit the this Link of the Week page.



Parents Site Gives Dominant Position to 5 "Popular Parents Resources"

Today we feature one of the rare websites for parents that gives dominant position to a small selection of links representing priority content for parents. 

As this page opens, you will not see any of the usual long text introductions that dominate most higher education websites for parents. You will not even see a photo of smiling parents and their children. Instead, you will in just 1 or 2 seconds see these 5 links:
  • Campus Safety
  • Pay My Bill
  • Parent and Family Programs
  • Inclusive Illinois
  • Undergraduate Admissions
How many sites for parents have you seen that start with information about "Campus Safety"?

The design used here is perfect for top task use. Are all of these 5 links top tasks? Perhaps not. I'd wager that the content behind "Inclusive Illinois" is not a top task for most people. First step: check the analytics to see which of the links is most often used by visitors to the page. A second step would be a formal task research project among parents. And I'd bet that "Campus Safety" and "Pay My Bill" wold both be high on the list.

Google PageSpeed Insights Results

On mobile, we have the usual Google PageSpeed Insights result for Speed (a weak 66/100) and a higher-than-usual 100/100 for User Experience.

Follow the Link of the Week

To see a unique approach to website design for parents, visit the University of Illinois website for Popular Parents Resources.

Original Link of the Week Page

Regular readers will notice that we are again posting a Link of the Week selection within the blog. I've decided to continue posting new Link selections here. Each week's description is available to future visitors and the blog, unlike the website, is searchable.

To review earlier selections for 2016 and previous years, visit the this Link of the Week page.




Higher Ed Content with Marketing Value: A Detailed Affordability Site

Although potential students and their families are interested in web content that speaks to the affordability of earning a college degree, "affordability" content is still not easy to find. Claims to "affordability" are not uncommon but details are elusive.

Today's Link of the Week at Whitworth University shows that Whitworth is not afraid of presenting cost-related content to show the value of attending a private sector university early in the recruitment cycle.

"Spend Less. Get More"

The Whitworth page starts with a simple heading; "Spend Less. Get More," is visible immediately as the page opens. So too is a chart showing the number of students who enroll at various income levels in 4 clusters that start at "Under $50,000" (26%) and peak at "Over $150,000 (21%). That's a quick and simple way to show economic diversity.

Scroll down the page to find 9 headings before arriving at calls to action:
  • US News ratings for best values in Western school. (Whitworth is #3 of the 15 listed.)
  • Sticker price cost compared to the average of Top 15 Regional Western universities. Just a little less at about $49,000 per year.
  • An "average" financial aid award "of any type" that lowers cost to $33,600.
  • Financial aid components, most of which is in scholarships and grants.
  • Percent of Whitworth students who graduate in 4 years: 85% or much higher than public and private university averages.
  • Up to 20 credits available in January terms at no extra cost.
  • An average debt level of about $26K and a low 3.8% default rate.
  • Links to the net cost calculator and the 9 to 12 month no-interest payment plan. 
  • After graduation employment stats of over 90%.
At the end of the page you'll find a CTA to apply for admission, visit, see majors offered, and to "Experience the Whitworth Difference." If you just want to make an inquiry at this point you'll have to find the small link to that (long and detailed) form back at the top of the page.

Mobile Ratings from Google

On mobile, the page follows the usual Good PageSpeed Insight pattern: a relatively low 62/100 for Speed and a 99/100 for User Experience.

Follow the Link of the Week

Review the Whitworth approach to "affordability & value" (words used in the title tag and URL) when you visit to explore how you can "Spend Less. Get More."

Original Link of the Week Page

Regular readers will notice that we are again posting a Link of the Week selection within the blog. I've decided to continue posting new Link selections here. Each week's description is available to future visitors and the blog, unlike the website, is searchable.

To review earlier selections for 2016 and previous years, visit the this Link of the Week page.
Brief Inquiry Forms Boost Student Recruitment

Direct marketers have always know a simple fact about inquiry forms: people are more likely to complete an inquiry form if it is brief. The briefer, the better.

An inquiry form has one purpose: to gather the information you need to make a first communication back to a potential student. If the entire form can be seen as soon as the website page opens, that's even better as it says immediately that it won't take long to complete.

Just 7 Lines to Complete

Today's Link of the Week is a superb example of how to increase an online inquiry pool. On desktop or laptop computer, you can scan the form in less than 3 seconds. In less than a minute most people will complete the 7 line form:
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Select Program
  • Mobile Phone Number
  • Email Address
  • Select Student Type
  • Select Entry Term
A separate box gives the option to sign for text messages. This spot also tells the benefit from doing this: "receive updates and reminders."

That's it. No birth date. No gender. No ethnicity. No high school code. No extracurricular interests. No "how did you hear about us?" That can all come later as a relationship develops.

On mobile, the form is not as immediately visible. And the Google PageSpeed Insights Speed rating is slow at 69/100. The User Experience, on the other hand, scores a high 99/100.

To complete a genuinely "blessedly brief" inquiry form, visit the St. Mary's University Request Information form.

Original Link of the Week Page

Regular readers will notice that we are again posting a Link of the Week selection within the blog. I've decided to continue posting new Link selections here. Each week's description is available to future visitors and the blog, unlike the website, is searchable.

To review earlier selections for 2016 previous years, visit the this Link of the Week page.



12 Courses in 12 Months: Easy to Scan Program Requirements

Students planning to enroll in online programs want to know what courses they will take to earn a degree or certificate. Today's Link of the Week makes that especially easy to do.

At Full Sail University you can earn in Master's degree by completing one course a month for 12 months. Our Link of the Week page lets visitors scan the titles of each course in less than 5 seconds as a laptop or desktop screen opens. You can then click immediately on a course that interests you to see a description of the course. 

Mobile visitors will see the first two courses with just a short scroll required to scan the remaining ones. 

On mobile, the 57/100 Speed rating on Google PageSpeed Insights is slow despite the simplicity of the page. Google puts the blame on slow server response time. User Experience rating is a robust 99/100.

To review a strong example of how potential students can easily review the courses required for a degree, visit this Full Sail University Course Schedule page.

Original Link of the Week Page

Regular readers will notice that we are again posting a Link of the Week selection within the blog. My website editing software is not editing at the moment. Until that glitch is fixed, Link of the Week selections will appear here.

To review selections for 2016 and earlier, visit the usual Link of the Week page.




Bob Johnson
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