25 Best University Websites for 2019

Best University Websites

It’s that time of year again — time to release our
rankings for the top 25 best university websites in the United
States.

In the
inaugural version of our report report (2018)
, we expected to
rank top American university websites and find a clear winner.
Instead, we discovered five primary themes around which the most
successful schools focused their website marketing efforts. In the

new version of the report we did for 2019
, we continued with
our same methodology and found many of the schools made huge
improvements to their websites. Congrats!

These themes are important because the learnings we share in
this research go beyond the higher-education vertical. Any large
organization responsible for communicating with diverse, sizable
audiences can learn from our results and apply them for improved
audience reach.

Best University Websites for 2019: How We Identified Them

For this report, we reviewed the top 50 universities in the
United States, based on undergraduate enrollment size, in order to
see
how the largest schools represented themselves through their
primary online presence
. We continued on our established
100-point scoring system and analyzed each school’s website to
explore the effects of both quantitative and qualitative
factors.

Quantitative Score: Using tools from Google,
SEMRush, BuzzSumo, and Pingdom, we tested for four
parameters—Mobile Site Friendliness, Number of Backlinks, Number
of Social Shares of Website Content, and Homepage Load Time—and
assigned each college a maximum of 40 points.

Qualitative Score: Once the universities were
reranked based on these quantitative scores, we next chose the top
schools and evaluated each based on five qualitative features:
Clarity of Brand/Identify, Ease of Use for Parents, Ease of Use for
Alumni and Donors, Ease of Use for Students, and Ease of Use for
Faculty and Staff. Each measurement was assigned a value of 0, 6 or
12 points, for a 60-point maximum.

Best University Webites: The Top 3

For 2019, top honors are shared in a tie between
University of California Berkeley (last year’s #1 ranked) and
University of Texas at Austin, each receiving the highest total
grade of 95 out a possible 100 points. University of Florida ranks
third with 88 points.

Best University Website Examples

Best University Website Examples: University of Florida


Download the full report
Top 5 Factors for University
Website Success

Our initial goal for this report was to share a list of top U.S.
university websites based on typical web KPIs (key performance
indicators). However, as often happens during the course of
research, conclusions are apparent that were broader
in scope than black and white numbers.

Below are the five primary themes we discovered around
successful university website marketing.

1. Navigate Without Mystery

Visitors should never have to guess at what a navigation label
means. The universities who did the best job used very clear and
simple terms in their navigation, such as “Admissions &
Aid,” “Academics,” “Research,” “Alumni” and
“Athletics.” These standard phrases have consistent meaning and
enable users to identify quickly the preferred starting point into
the site.

#ProTip: Visitors should never have to guess at what a
navigation label means. #UX

Click To Tweet

2. Maximize the Mobile Experience

Today, website visitors are digital natives expecting
information wherever they go. This paradigm shift necessitates a
mobile-first approach to design. While all university websites we
evaluated for this report were viewable on mobile devices, many had
design or content issues that downgraded performance and general
usability.

Mobile website users need information fast, without extraneous
fluff or unnecessary levels of complication. This means that you
must evaluate existing website content and decide what is most
important to their roving audience.

Mobile website users need information fast, without extraneous
fluff or unnecessary levels of complication. #mobileux

Click To Tweet

3. Establish a Relationship

During our research, we noticed an interesting trend: a number
of colleges focus much of their website homepages on latest news
and upcoming events. This is not necessarily a bad content choice.
It’s understandable that a university wants to showcase exciting
updates.

Our primary concern with this approach is that new visitors are
presented with content that largely caters to individuals—such as
current students and faculty—that are already vested in campus
activities. In addition, even on-location users might not find news
and events of particular value, given their broader opportunities
to locally learn about these without visiting their college’s
website.

The solution is to think of your website visitors as an ongoing
relationship, not a one-time date.

4. Define Your Unique Selling Proposition

There’s no denying that enrolling in higher education is one
of the biggest—and most daunting—investments an individual or
family will make in a lifetime. Numerous considerations go into
selecting a university. For some students, attending a certain
college means carrying on a parental legacy. Other students are
drawn to specific schools for their unique opportunities in
specialized fields of study. And for many individuals, the decision
is primarily based on fiscal drivers in the form of residency,
scholarships, or tuition assistance.

Our research concludes that most higher educational institutes
don’t do well at differentiating what’s unique about their
school. Design layout, imagery, and content tends that are fairly
bland don’t help the school standout against the competition.

5. Enable the Action

Higher education institutions are a business that, like every
company, makes money from obtaining and retaining customers.
Universities may call their them “students,” “alumni,” and
“donors,” but the end goal is the same: revenue.

Most marketers are aware of the Pareto principle, more commonly
referred to as the 80/20 rule. Roughly speaking, this credo
predicts that 80% of results come from 20% of activity. Therefore,
to maximize results, a business should focus on their most
profitable actions.

To maximize results, a business must focus on the most
profitable actions. Follow the #ParetoPrinciple (aka 80/20
Rule).

Click To Tweet

Put Best Practices To Work

The best website practices we discovered are important because
the learnings we share in this paper go beyond the higher education
vertical. Any large organization responsible for communicating with
diverse, sizeable audiences can learn from our results and apply
them for improved audience reach.

Download
The 2019 Best Websites Among America’s Top Universities for more
insights.

The post
25 Best University Websites for 2019
appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social
Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting
.

Source: FS – Social Media Blogs 2
25 Best University Websites for 2019