Top College and University Homepage Designs How Does Your School’s Website Compare?
The Best College Websites Should Easily Answer These Questions
In today’s fragmented world, it is more important than ever to define your school’s success by the brand you create. Your website is your single most important branding element. Now make it a good one! Check out these amazing examples to inspire your new website meeting.
If you can’t confidently answer yes to the questions below, it’s time to figure out how to improve your website. In today’s blog post, let’s review the most impactful website elements. We have provided examples of our favorite college homepages below to inspire you.
How well does your website convert a visitor to an inquiry or an application?
Does your website do a good job at answering the questions a visitor might have when coming to your website?
Is your website a tool to help you connect with many students on an individual basis?
Does your website help support your mission and branding efforts?
Usability: Is it easy for a website visitor to find what he or she is looking for on your website?
Content: Is your content engaging? Does it get updated regularly? Is it emotionally compelling? Are you telling a powerful story?
Interactivity: Is your website interactive? Does it include videos, hyperlinks, demos, photos and other elements the visitor can engage in?
Design: Does the design adhere to current design trends? Does it exude credibility, creativity and fun?
Innovation: Does your website look original and align with your brand?
Branding: Does your website further engrain your brand in the hearts and minds of prospective students? Are you differentiating your college or university from others?
Mobile: With over 60% of traffic coming from mobile phones, is your website mobile friendly? Does it load quickly, provide a good user-experience, use videos to tell your story and is it visually appealing?
We did our best to create a comprehensive list of our favorite college websites. If you think one is missing, please let us know in the comments below.
If you scroll down on the homepage you can see the school by the numbers, see virtual tours, and how the website celebrates their current students, etc. This example website has beautiful imagery of real students, the campus, professors, etc. If you feel you are a creative person, this website will speak to you. This website conveys the Oberlin brand quickly and tells prospective students that this is the school where you can go to be creative, grow and learn. The story is compelling from the imagery and message to the videos. It is powerful and engaging in every way.
The imagery is outstanding. The navigation on the right side can help a prospective student quickly figure out where they need to go. They have identified that prospective students come to this admission’s website to schedule a visit to the campus, apply and enroll. Their homepage is minimalistic and is user-friendly. They do not try to distract the visitor by offering too much content at one time.
This website is great too because the navigation bar at the top of the page stands out which makes it easier for the viewer to get where they need to go. They also offer a sub navigation. Even though this website has more links than the example above, these links are applied well with purpose to help the user get off the homepage as quickly as possible and get where they need to go.
I love the text over their hero image, “Now Hiring Huskers”. Recently, I was on the website and it said, “Your Story Matters”. They are connecting on a more personal level. They have an impressive navigation that opens up when you scroll over it. Also, check out the twitter feed off the homepage. The website has a little for everyone, but most importantly it connects with it’s intended visitors.
I love the concept of Middlebury’s website. But the usability can be a challenge, and it’s virtually impossible to select one of these lines on a mobile device. After a few attempts, I was able to watch a few videos on my phone. Generally, that’s enough to take a website out of the running. However, the videos, photos and stories are compelling once you can click on each one. Because of the quality of content this website quickly became a favorite website of mine. Picking a college is an emotional decision for parents and students. The more a college can tap into that emotion the stronger the brand can be on the web. I would recommend that Middlebury continue to work on the usability so visitors do not get frustrated and miss out on all this great content.
I love the photo they selected for the homepage. It shows a multi-cultural classroom with students engaged in a discussion. The photo has a sense of authenticity. I absolutely love how they called out the facts below the image. These bold and enticing facts help students and parents reinforce their decision to attend this college. The website is perfectly optimized for mobile and the interface is user-friendly. Well done, Bates College!
This website clearly speaks their mission. It’s a beautifully done homepage and it conveys their brand messaging very well. The layout is simple, which easily gets the message across. It’s clean and minimal with content, but it gets the job done.
This school’s website is capitalizing on it’s California location with it’s illustration. They provide easy to find links to their majors and academics, Biola blogs, Life at Biola and how to schedule a visit. They are definitely differentiating their brand and focusing on what it’s like to attend Biola. Personally, I’m not familiar with Biola. This heavy emphasis on campus culture might have always been there or they are making an effort to re-brand itself and focus on campus culture as a differentiator.
The University of Michigan has done an amazing job with its imagery and storytelling on their homepage. Each story focuses on a different aspect of the college from their Hackathon to music and their research. I personally enjoyed reading them all. As you can tell, I am a big fan of show and tell. I love the facts below the images. These reinforce the decision to pick the University of Michigan. The content and stories connect emotionally. Also, check out “on Michigan time” below.
Simple, yet still beautiful and functional. Imagery and storytelling is everything in website design… and let’s not forget usability. Get rid of everything that isn’t necessary. This school’s website has done just that created a clean template which is user-friendly and professional. The imagery draws you in to want to learn more.
Ohio State did a nice job with its graphics by mixing photography with illustration. They are conveying that the summer courses are fun and educational, which is a hard concept for some schools to convey. I also think the website has nice usability and the colors produce a warm and welcoming effect.
I love how the navigation moves with the visitor as they scroll down. This reinforces the message to the website visitor that you should click one of these links by putting so much emphasis on it. Plus, I love how they highlight their student’s work on their homepage which shows their confidence and pride in their school, an important aspect to have while branding.
I am a big fan of detailed sub-navigation. It makes it easy for the viewer to find what they are looking for on a website. Mississippi State has done an excellent job of incorporating a lot of information and content within a clean and symmetrical set-up.
This school puts an emphasis on their branding technique: Be a Longhorn is right in the middle of their page. Also, they make it easy for a website visitor to apply to be a Longhorn. Ease and accessibility drive sales.
Brown University does a great job intertwining their website and social media accounts. See the links below to their Youtube, Instagram and other social media networks. Plus, they included their hashtag to use for their university, which is a must in our social media world.
The University of Chicago is celebrating their student’s Iowa Project. Celebrate your students, and your students will be proud to call your school home. Showing this kind of connection is what hits the emotional spot for visitors, they are tapping into people’s desire to feel wanted and needed. This university has done just that with the content of their website.
I love the imagery in the background. They are embracing their weather and celebrating it. The student imagery they use shows the college is fun and exciting. If I was an incoming student and nervous about making friends when attending college, I would immediately feel at ease going to Valparaiso. Imagery is so important to a website. Pick your images wisely. Check out By the Numbers below on the homepage.
What an interesting way to take a visitor through the journey of attending Hampshire College through learn, live, lead apply. I am familiar with Hampshire College and this approach is very much aligned with their brand.
I am a big fan of a detailed sub-navigation. Make it easy for someone to find what they are looking for on a website; Mississippi State does just that.
Is your hero image on your website changing often? Show off the events, activities and cultural experiences happening at your college. Celebrate all that you are doing and share it with prospective students.
Oh, the imagery! What a story Rocky Mountain College is telling their visitors through its choice of imagery on their homepage. They are being storytellers! The college highlights a number of different paths a student can take. Great use of website segmentation!
This website IS Clemson University. They have done a nice job having their website reinforce their brand. I do think they can do more to connect emotionally with a visitor, but overall it’s an honorable mention.
Love the use of Nitty Gritty below. And their imagery of students in a lab. I think they could have done more with their imagery, but they did make the honorable mention list.
As you can see, there are a number of ways to design a homepage that resonates with prospective students. If you need help crafting your college’s story through your website design and user-experience, please give us a call (866) 255-4955 or request more info.
About Tribeca Marketing Group
Tribeca Marketing Group is a full-service Higher Education marketing agency dedicated to fulfilling schools’ and colleges’ marketing and branding needs. We specialize in the Higher Education sector, handling all aspects of marketing communications. From developing a comprehensive marketing strategy to launching an individual campaign, we can do it all. Our combination of strategic industry expertise and marketing prowess allows us to execute strategic initiatives that grow enrollments.