How human is your university website?

David Higginson, product designer at Unibuddy, explains how easy, safe and effective it is to embed human connections throughout your university website

University websites have a lot of information to convey, and a lot of audiences to connect with. Researchers, staff, students, prospective students and staff, the community… the list goes on.

If you or someone you know has researched universities in the digital age, you’ll know the abundance of information can sometimes be overwhelming, and universities are getting better at organising and presenting in a logical way.

But many university and college websites are still missing one crucial element – humans. Clever searching, targeted messaging, chatbots and more can all help with navigation, but they should act as a complement to – not a replacement for – your student voice.

The value of authenticity

In an era of slick advertising and glossy materials, universities are seeking to bridge the ‘authenticity’ gap.

In fact, according to a recent survey, prospective students are increasingly turning to student reviews to inform their decision about university, while their interest in rankings is waning.

The survey also found that the vast majority of undergraduate students (81%) expect a personalised response to their enquiries, and 43% want it within one day. Gen Z value an immediate response, and they want something personal. Bring the two together and see how you can bring enormous value to your prospects. Your current students are indispensable in this respect.

The survey also found that the vast majority of undergraduate students (81%) expect a personalised response to their enquiries, and 43% want it within one day.

Analysis by peer-to-peer chat application Unibuddy has shown the power of this human connection. At Middlesex University, 77% of offer-holders who used Unibuddy went on to enrol.

When making decisions, everyone is more reliant on peer-to-peer support than ever before. 91% of people regularly or occasionally read web reviews when deciding where to go on holiday, buy a product or even just order food. It’s no surprise that when making a big decision like where to go to university, prospective students want to hear from a real human.

Is it safe?


The idea of a human connection front and centre of your university website might raise red flags. Is it safe? How are students protected?

Tech companies like Unibuddy are making huge strides to make the internet a safer place to facilitate authentic human connections. Safety is front and centre, with features such as automatic word blocking, which detects and blocks abusive words and phrases, and blocking, which gives students total power of their conversation.

It’s these features that mean less than 0.5% of the messages sent on Unibuddy are inappropriate.

Is it easy to embed?

Adding a human touch to your website doesn’t need to be time consuming. In fact, Unibuddy can be embedded with a single piece of HTML code – exactly the same as embedding a YouTube video or Google Maps.

You can add your student’s smiling faces to your homepage with easily embeddable elements and create a compelling call to action that drives lead-generation and conversations.

By connecting their prospective students with their best advocates, universities around the world are improving their lead generation and conversion efforts. Students who used Unibuddy at Queen Mary University were 34.8% more likely to enrol than those who did not. And in the US, St John’s University found that 28% of Unibuddy users went on to deposit – higher than the 16% institutional average.

While university websites are great for many things, many are missing natural and authentic peer-to-peer connections. For prospective students, these conversations are the most important resource when making big decisions about where to study.

Learn more about the power of peer-to-peer technology for the higher education sector at the 2019 Unibuddy Conference.

Click here to book

Free live webinar & QA

The digital difference - Build a culture of reading with ebooks & audiobooks

Free Education Webinar with OverDrive

Friday, June 24, 2PM London BST

In this webinar, hear from Havant Academy Librarian Joanna Parsons to learn how she uses ebooks and audiobooks to help boost reading among her secondary students.