The first week of freshman orientation includes a lot of stimuli, like bonding activities, social events, food trucks, and fraternity and sorority recruitment opportunities.
Along with all these obligations, students have a vast web of collegiate interfaces that they need to learn to succeed in the classroom, and college scheduling interfaces and university websites can be confusing at times.
With everything from the university home page navigation to financial portals and organizational platforms like Blackboard and Canvas, user experience can make-or-break the class of 2021’s educational navigation.
So, here’s six of students’ biggest gripes about college web interfaces and how universities can avoid them.
1. “It’s on the website… but where?”
Between scroll bars, link loops, confusing admission buttons and donor request links, a lot of university sites are notorious for visual clutter.
Condensing the information down into more digestible categories increases student satisfaction and the overall accessibility of student information. Here are some sites that are “doing it right”:
- Oberlin College & Conservatory – Effective Motion Graphics
- Wellesley College – Donation Campaign
- Neumont University – Concise Scrollbar Categories
- Belmont University – Clear Alumni Updates
2. “My college won an award… or something?”
Let’s be honest, students have to have some “quick-fact” ammo for their family parties when people start asking about where they go to school. Additionally, college statistics are always great resources for employers when establishing the credentials of recently graduated job candidates.
Here are a handful of schools that do a good job at keeping the stats short, to the point, and visually appealing.
3. “There are 5,000 different portals I have to log into.”
It’s great that colleges are always trying to find the newest and greatest systems for organizing grades, assignments, and syllabi. Yet, a lot of students and teachers can find themselves inconsistently using “the old system,” “the new system,” or just giving and accepting assignments in printed form or via email.
Instituting one mode or the other might be an annoyance to some of the professors or students, but streamlining is key to helping your students stay organized.
Streamlining other services like personal tuition financials, textbook listings and purchases, and transcripts into one aggregated platform is also on many college students’ wish list.
Campus Technology wrote a great article extensively outlining what to look for when shopping for the best university portal. Check it out.
4. “Is there an app for that?”
It’s the age of Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, where information is conveyed to users in seconds. Students want, and expect, moment-by-moment updates on events happening around campus. And student calendars can often be outdated or updated just days before an event is happening, all too often making them unreliable.
Additionally, bus, car sharing and shuttle services for students frequently change and can be inaccurate if only pre-printed slotted schedules are available. An app specific to your university with push notifications and constant updates can help remedy these issues.
Some good ones to check out for reference are:
5. “Didn’t those students go here 10 years ago?”
Students like to see recent, clear photos of classmates engaging with the campus on your website and social media platforms. Having both active social media channels and up-to-date images on your university homepage is a quick-win solution to cultivating grassroots campus culture.
Some universities that feature constant streams of new photos are:
- Ashland University – “Image-of-the-day”
- Cornell University – Social media
- John Carroll University – Homepage features
6. “Where the heck is the convocation center?”
Depending on the size of your university, navigating the campus map made into a pixelated PDF eight years ago isn’t quite cutting it for the GoogleMaps generation.
Here are some examples of great interactive university maps that help students make it to class on time, and can put your college in the best possible light.
Follow these useful tips and your school will be able to better engage students and increase their satisfaction by way of your website and social platforms.