Reach multiple audiences by optimizing your education website

It's not always easy to prioritize content and design navigation that engages the many different audiences your education website should serve. Learn what you can do to improve your website.

Close up of hands on laptop with tablet, headphones, journal, coffee and other school supplies.

An engaging education website speaks to multiple audiences. It provides easy navigation and search opportunities regardless of what information is prioritized by which audience, but it’s easy to miss the mark. It’s a fine line as each audience navigates differently and is looking for particular information. Prospective students may be looking at tuition, areas of study and student life whereas parents of prospective students may be looking for tuition information, alumni success stories, graduation rates and post-graduation job placements.

Each audience prioritizes information differently and has specific needs to meet. How do you make sure each audience easily finds the information they are searching for? Here are a few tips to get your education website on the right track.

1. Develop audience personas.

  • Conduct primary and secondary research to learn about your main audiences and understand what matters to them. Conduct interviews with multiple user types — potential and current students, faculty and staff, parents, alumni and more to learn what information matters to whom and to identify your 3-5 target audiences.
  • After you identify 3-5 target audiences and learn what matters to them, create a persona to represent each one. Doing this will help you tailor content and information to the right audiences in the right locations on your website and help refine the marketing tactics that drive traffic back to that content on the site. The interviews conducted and other research utilized will tell you what matters to which persona and help you refine their identities. We can help you develop different personas to support your goals.

2. Create a user friendly website design.

  • Audit the website experience from the perspective of each persona to identify opportunities to improve organization, functionality and content. This audit will reveal website improvement opportunities and put you on the path to refreshing your education website’s information hierarchy, search opportunities, Request for Information (RFI) forms and develop an overall content strategy to consistently engage each persona.
  • Prioritize minimalism. Trying to fit too many elements or content pieces on each page creates confusion and disorganization. Creating a clean, polished design will help users navigate your site with ease. Consider increasing navigation opportunities that drive traffic to other pages. improving SEO and minimizing clutter on individual pages.
  • Is your site mobile friendly? Responsive design is no longer just an option. Mobile continues to grow as the main source for many to access the internet. Most audiences use their phones when surfing the web more than their desktops. Therefore, having a responsive, mobile-friendly site is more important than ever.

3. Make navigation clear.

  • Information often gets buried in sub-menu’s and creating a simple navigation experience allows users to efficiently locate the information they need. Make sure primary navigation options are clear umbrellas for the dropdown content. Conducting a user experience audit like we mentioned above will help you discern whether or not the navigation menus, dropdown content and destination content all aligns.
  • Check out our post College Websites: Designing for Enrollment to learn more about how to improve navigation to get users from the home page to the application page.
  • Consider creating a navigation option that allows users to ‘choose their own adventure’ by selecting the persona that most relates to them — parent, student, prospective student, educator, community-member — to drive them to a unique page catered directly to their needs.

Your institution’s website is a prospective student’s first stop on the path to filling out an application and choosing to attend your school and the experience they have matters. It also matters to the influencers in their lives.

Partner with a proven expert in the field to conduct research, user experience audits, refine your website’s information hierarchy, and create content — see what Sanger & Eby can do for you.