"When UX doesn’t consider ALL users, shouldn’t it be known as “SOME User Experience” or… SUX?” — Billy Gregory
Most educational websites focus on keeping students, teachers and parents informed, through relevant and updated content, but they never really focus on HOW this information is accessed by readers. Do you want your students pulling their hair out struggling to navigate through the university’s website just to find Monday’s syllabus? I hope not.
We are currently living in the digital age, with all our interactions occurring through or being influenced by social media, search engines and other technological devices. As a university, the number of students finding out about and enquiring about your courses online today is higher than it was a year ago, and this number will only rise. With similar universities and courses around your locality and the world, what makes an aspirant spend time on your website than another?
This is exactly why universities need to invest in a website that offers a great UI/UX experience.
Before we talk about what makes a website great when it comes to offering a seamless UI/UX experience, let's understand what these terms actually mean.
As Dain Miller very rightly puts it, “UI is the saddle, the stirrups, & the reins. UX is the feeling you get being able to ride the horse.”
UI or User Interface is the tangible component of the designing process. It is an information device/platform which is designed in such a way that the user can interact with your product/service as seamlessly as possible. UX or User Experience, on the other hand, is the intangible component that dictates the flow and path a user takes to reach their destination and often determines the emotional outcome users feel as a result of using the UI.
Poorly conceptualised structure and design is just the beginning of everything that's wrong with static websites. While they may be informative, they're equally unorganised. And with everyone's attention span lowering to a jaw-droppingly low level of 8 seconds, there's not much hope for the website community if you don't embrace a more radical approach. This can be illustrated by the fact that around 32% of students feel technology plays a part in the University decision-making process.
So how do we pass the UI/UX mark with flying colours? The following steps demonstrate the details.
Dive deep into understanding who your user is, what they need/want, and then answer these questions by way of an intuitive UI design. Some points to consider include their device preference, technological awareness, and ability to grasp the content. Additionally, engaging in website and device analytics can help understand your target audience's digital environment better. This will automatically translate into an engaging and rewarding user experience for every user. Also, first impressions matter when it comes to a website, so make sure you bring your A-game when it comes to the designing part of the process right from choosing the colour palette to deciding which icons should be used on the homepage and subsequent pages.
While using heavy duty words may be impressive when submitting a college essay, we suggest the exact opposite when it comes to drafting content for your website. The content should be reliable and easily comprehensible, 24/7. You know what this means right? No amount of WiFi problems should act as a hindrance if the student/teacher wishes to access resources, whether online or offline. Additionally, there should be a logical flow to the content structure with each element contributing to the website as a whole instead of taking away from the central theme.
One of the primary problems that plague educational websites is the presence of outdated content. It is important to archive old content and segregate relevant material into simple categories. At any given point, ensuring easy navigation and providing relevant content is vital to provoking a CTA (call-to-action), the primary objective of any educational website, right?
Make sure to add fresh content to your website and share it constantly across social media platforms - whether it’s latest updates about the university, student life and admissions, or even a fun blog!
Fun fact: Around 86% of colleges and universities today have a Youtube presence.
Using interactive elements like a 360-degree tour of the campus, additional videos focusing on facilities and the faculty at the university, and keeping a live chat window are some features worth exploring.
The benefits of integrating UI/UX into your website design are many. A good UI/UX design will help:
Every university that wishes to engage in a meaningful relationship with their stakeholders, from parents and teachers to the students and the community at large, should create a website that combines practicality and interactiveness in equal measure. If you wish to know more about why a good UI/UX is important for your university website and how it can impact your organisation, feel free to comment below and let's have a discussion!
Vaishnavi Reddy, is the Founder of OriginUX a UI UX Design Agency in Bangalore. A graduate from NIFT, she has worked with over 400 brands globally to propel their Digital initiatives.
Connect with her on Linkedin