Four of the Best College Websites and How They Create Content

A prospective student’s first interaction with a college website is an opportunity to begin building a relationship that will lead to enrollment. Creating content that aligns with applicant goals, the institution’s brand identity and the current job market is the key to this conversion. Content that helps prospective students make an informed decision increases their engagement from the outset and moves them continuously toward enrollment.

When creating content ask these questions to make sure you are communicating clearly and with purpose:

  • Goals: What are we trying to accomplish?
  • Audience: Who are we trying to reach?
  • Message: What are we trying to say to them?
  • Medium: What is the best way to say it?
  • Action: What do we want them to do next?

In action

A common pain point for students who must borrow to pay for a college education is graduating with excessive student loan debt. Given the rising cost of tuition, a growing number of parents and students want to know much earlier in their decision-making process the cost of their degree and the financial aid they could receive. In the example below, Princeton University does a great job of addressing this issue and attracting a wider pool of applicants before the large sticker price deters them any further.

Princeton uses numbers from the 2015-2016 Academic Year to tell its story. The content answers the questions above and presents a clear action to apply for financial aid.

Following this example, here are some of the best college websites that create content to attract and inform current and prospective students, their families, alumni, professors and donors.

1. ArtCenter College of Design

ArtCenter displays a student gallery to inspire prospective students and lead them to request a viewbook. http://www.artcenter.edu/discover/prospective-student/graduate-degrees/industrial-design.html

2. University of Michigan

The University of Michigan has clear calls to action encouraging alumni to join local chapters and an all-encompassing events calendar overview. http://alumni.umich.edu/

3. School of Visual Arts 

An interactive timeline of classes with instructor profiles and student projects for every semester attracts prospective students as well as helps current students see what they will be learning. http://interactiondesign.sva.edu/curriculum/mfa-program

In conclusion

When revamping your site with new content, there is an opportunity to align your overarching strategy with your core messages. Content strategy sets the stage not just for a successful web redesign project, but a successful life of your website.