Gone are the days when a student would do their college research using magazines and books. Students today can get all the information they need online rather than having to dig through magazines or flip through the pages of an outdated library book. The internet has made the research phase much easier and more accurate, and this has benefited both colleges and students. Plus, all institutions have needed up until this point was a decent website.
Today, that’s no longer the case.
Why the Desktop Experience is Fizzling Out
A website that is built for desktop users is only enjoyable for those students who are sitting at home or at the library on a computer. And how many high school juniors and seniors do you see spending their time in their parent’s home office or the local library? Not many. Instead, you find them on their smartphones and tablets everywhere they go. While waiting for the school bus. During their little brother’s school play. In between soccer practice and homework.
The Pew Research Center reports that 30 percent of all smartphone owners use their mobile phones to look up information on educational content. If your college website isn’t optimized for your mobile audience, you’re going to lose them at some point in the funnel.
What are the Benefits to Optimizing My Website?
Let’s discuss the main advantages to optimizing your website for all platforms.
Improved User Experience. If you’ve ever used a website on your smartphone that didn’t give you a good experience, how did you feel about the brand in general? Would you return? Recommend them to friends? Probably not. Even though the brand may have valued you as a customer, it didn’t show. You don’t want to do the same to prospective college students. An optimized website makes visitors feel good about your school. It shows them that you care about their experience and are excited to share what your institution has to offer.
Increased Time on Site. You have a limited amount of time to capture a visitor’s attention, and this attention is even more limited with mobile users. Because they are on the go, they tend to use the internet in a faster manner. They’re not going to wait for pages to load, content to appear or links to work. An optimized website is enjoyable to use and will engage users right from the start, keeping them on your site longer. The longer you get a visitor to stay, the more likely they are to convert.
Faster Load Times. A website that isn’t optimized for mobile will load slowly. Studies show that every second counts when it comes to speed, and page abandonment increases with load time. Optimizing your website for mobile ensures that it will load quickly because the code is compatible with mobile devices.
Improved Mobile SEO. Google encourages webmasters to build responsive websites that adapt to all devices. This makes it easier for Google to crawl through sites and rank them accordingly. If you want to boost your ranking, be sure that your site is optimized for mobile. A responsive design is the best way to achieve this, but if you don’t want to make your site responsive, at least have a separate HTML website to serve mobile users. If you depend on your desktop site for mobile users, your site will be penalized by Google.
Competitive Edge. The internet is a competitive place, which means you always need to be one step ahead of your competition. If other colleges and universities have mobile websites and you don’t, you’re going to lose qualified leads. By providing potential students with a mobile-ready website, you’re able to capture more leads and move them further down the funnel.
Why Responsive is Best
Now that you understand why an optimized website is crucial for your brand, let’s talk about how you can go about doing this.
When setting up your site, probably the most important decision you can make is whether to use a responsive, dynamic serving or separate site configuration. Each has its pros and cons. Google rewards sites with a responsive design but does support all three options as long as they are set up correctly.
Here at SEMGeeks, we fully support a responsive design because of its ease and efficiency. A responsive design is the best way to optimize your site for all platforms because it adapts to whatever device the user is on. Not only does a responsive site change to fit the screen of a tablet versus a smartphone but also that of an Android or iPhone. This means that prospective students will be given a highly engaging and personalized experience no matter where they are coming from.
Additionally, a responsive design is easy to maintain. Some colleges and universities are concerned about optimizing their site because they don’t want to have to take care of two sites. With responsive design, you have just one website to maintain and that’s it. You can track where your leads are coming from and even run optimized SEO campaigns all from one site.
University Business reported in 2012 that only 15 percent of institutions surveyed had a responsive website. In 2013, this number jumped to 50 percent. As responsive websites become the norm, higher education institutions need to adapt to the change and provide their students with a highly intuitive experience. Don’t be left behind.
Anything that can give your higher education institution a competitive advantage should be given a fair chance. Responsive design is one of them. It’s easy to implement and will make your site look beautiful on all platforms. And, it’s a lot more cost-efficient than you probably realize, especially with the ROI it provides. To learn more about how to optimize your college website for all platforms, call SEMGeeks today.