Meet the schools with rock star websites

By Sharon Aschaiek | August 1, 2018

The University of California Berkeley scored first place in Convince & Convert's 2018 ranking of university websites.
The University of California Berkeley scored first place in Convince & Convert’s 2018 ranking of university websites.

How do you know if your university or college’s website is hitting the mark?

Some clues can be found in a new list of the top 25 university websites in the United States. Digital marketing consultancy Convince & Convert reviewed the websites of the top 50 U.S. universities based on their undergraduate enrolment size, and used a 100-point scoring system to determine the winners.

Convince & Convert top 25 universities report

Measuring website quality

The analysis measured four quantitative factors:

  • mobile site friendliness
  • number of back links
  • number of social shares of web content
  • homepage load time

The study also examined the following five qualitative factors:

  • clarity of brand/identity
  • easy of use for students
  • easy of use for parents
  • ease of use for alumni and donors
  • ease of use for faculty and staff
Winning schools

 The schools that topped the list were:

  1. University of California Berkeley
  2. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  3. University of Michigan
  4. University of Texas at Austin
  5. University of South Carolina
University of Michigan third place winner Convince & Convert university website study
The University of Michigan was recognized for having a top-shelf website.
Best practices

What are these schools doing right? The study determined five website best practices used by the most successful schools (for more details, download the full report):

A clear navigation system: concise language, a limited number of menu options.
An outstanding mobile experience: quickly provides relevant information, has a readable format, has minimal images.
Make a great first impression: appeals to all audience groups, shares institutional values, encourages further browsing.
Consistently emphasizes positioning: clearly demonstrates the institution’s unique value proposition.
Enable the sale: makes financial transactions related to tuition, residency fees, donations, scholarships and more seamless.

More success factors

Other considerations come into play when optimizing your school’s website. Make sure your school’s identity and brand elements are apparent on each webpage. Use storytelling to reflect the history of your school and the impressive activities of students, faculty and alumni. Emphasize your school’s major milestones and achievements. Help guide prospective students through the application process. Include enough and appropriate interactive elements to keep people engaged.

Another key factor has to do with how well your school engages journalists. The easier it is for reporters to navigate your site and access newsworthy information and experts to interview, the better it will be for your school’s profile. Learn more by downloading my Media-friendly School Website Cheat Sheet.

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