Making the decision to revamp your website should be taken seriously. It’s a great opportunity, but updating your site doesn’t automatically translate to better things. To be effective, you need to strategize your project.
As you begin to think about your higher education website and how it can be improved with new visuals, content, and calls to action, here are a few steps to take.
Assess the pros and cons to your existing site.
You probably have a list of things that you like and don’t like about your current website. Maybe it’s difficult for prospects to find information but the visuals are great. Whatever your likes and dislikes are, put them on paper. Your web designer needs to know what features to expand on and which ones to remove.
Define the goals you want to reach.
Even though you have the intention of building a better website, you need to have clear, measurable goals in mind – ideally SMART goals. Most colleges and universities prioritize prospective students. How can students find information on your programs? What types of content will nurture them through the funnel?
It’s possible that other groups will benefit from a new site as well. Consider your alumni groups and what they might find useful on your site. You can count on your alums to drive engagement, attend school events, and donate money. They should not be left out of the marketing mix.
Formalize your school’s branding using a style guide.
Your institution should have a recognizable identity. When redesigning your site, make sure that this identity remains consistent. A comprehensive style guide is a great tool for this purpose. It details how important elements (logo, color scheme, fonts) should be laid out on your marketing materials. These elements should be consistent so that your school is identifiable on an aesthetic and messaging level.
Create a sitemap of the content you plan on using.
Many web design experts take a content-first approach. Rather than trying to squeeze content into an already existing design, web designers map out the content first. Then, they create a design around the content. The easiest way to do this is by creating a sitemap that includes the following:
Top level navigation. This is the main menu of your site that includes the most important information, such as courses, accommodations, student life, school history, and more.
Second and third level navigation. Some higher EDU sites need second and third levels of navigation, particularly those that have other campus locations.
Utility pages. Utility pages are those that are not grouped under main menus. They include privacy policies, terms and conditions, legal disclaimers, and more.
At this point, your web designer will create a wireframe that shows you what your website will look like. These are blueprints for your site that include various elements such as body text and images. Once they are approved, your design team will begin building your brand new site. It’s exciting to see how everything comes together over a simple strategy!