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Friday, January 8, 2010

Best Practices for Collegiate Web Sites

Each week (usually Fridays) Bob, from Bob Johnson Consulting, does a blog pertaining to the topic of college and university marketing, where he will add a link to what he feels is a superior collegiate Web site. For the year's overall best he chose The University of Maine, for its unprecedented approach to increasing enrollment totals. According to him, this Web site screams “APPLY!” and after viewing it, I would even take it a step further. Not only does it scream apply, it shouts “ATTEND!” College Web sites are currently the top recruiting tool at the higher education level, and if you have honed in on the best practices for designing and creating your site, then you will undoubtedly become a force to be reckoned with.

One important key to creating a solid collegiate site is highlight your primary goal. In other words, make sure your page is targeting who you want. Is your top goal boosting admissions? Then give admissions top place on your site.UMaine did EXACTLY this. They wanted to boost enrollment totals and therefore set their admissions box at the top of the page next to an attractive picture slide show with an enticing description of the university and a link clearly marked “Apply Now!” right beneath it. I am only a semester away from completing my four year degree and even I was tempted to apply; I can only imagine how an excited high school senior would feel. Beneath this the page stretches on, but for a brief moment in time, it’s just you and the admissions box, alone and in love.

There are several criteria for best practices in university Web sites, and the UMaine site does a great job with a lot of them including: getting students involved, social media strategy, and promoting special events. However, its the dawn of a new decade and technology is constantly seeing new trends and phases. Does UMaine have the greatest collegiate site of 2009? Maybe. But it's 2010 and anyone can take over. Take advantage of the technology that is out there and allows users to create revolutionary new Web sites so amazing that you easily could be the next 'top' name on Bob's list.

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