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  1. How to lay the foundations for a website that works for you, not against you. 1 in 10 potential students reject a college or university due to a poor website experience. Don’t risk being eliminated at the first hurdle.
  2. Learn how leading universities are using content to win the battle for students. The most successful universities are telling compelling stories that set them apart from competitors. What's yours?
  3. Get practical advice you can actually use when you create your next piece of content. Discover tools and techniques you can provide to your staff, schools, and departments to get them producing better content.
Exploring the potential of great content, Content Strategist Gabriel Smy will be taking part in the webinar Q&A with Education Technology editor Charley Rogers to explain what content strategy is, why it’s so important, and how you can use it to transform the fortunes of your organisation. Gabriel Smy is a content strategist at Zengenti, the company behind the Contensis CMS used by leading universities such as the London School of Economics, King’s College London, and the University of Birmingham. Gabriel has over a decade’s worth of experience working with digital content for agencies and in-house teams. As a result, Gabriel has a deep understanding of both the client and agency sides of a web project, particularly helping universities overhaul the way they manage content. Don’t miss your chance to ask him your burning content strategy questions in the upcoming webinar. Register here and send your questions to content@zengenti.com [post_title] => Top 3 takeaways from Zengenti’s webinar on content strategy [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => top-3-takeaways-from-zengentis-webinar-on-content-strategy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-11-21 12:27:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-11-21 12:27:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://edtechnology.co.uk/dashboard2/?post_type=articles&p=6914 [menu_order] => 2315 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7725 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2018-11-16 14:32:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-11-16 14:32:17 [post_content] => [embed]https://vimeo.com/304569714[/embed] Content marketing it set to become an increasingly popular marketing tool in 2019. With that, HE providers need to start thinking about how they can tap into this resource. In a bid to ensure that your content is good enough to win in the competition of student screen time, Zengenti co-hosted this webinar run by University Business and Education Technology.

Content is capital: getting the best return on your investment in content.

To delve into the difficulties content can present, Content Strategist Gabriel Smy will be taking to the sofa to talk all things content. Currently at Zengenti, designing websites for higher education and local government organisations, as well as museums, emergency services and the NHS, his role is to keep client content at the heart of every project. Hear his thoughts on the what the future of content in higher education looks like and how you can use it to your advantage. With a background in writing and communications and more specifically digital content, which spans over a decade, he is perfectly placed to advise on content strategy. Any follow up questions? Send them to content@zengenti.com.   [post_title] => Content is capital [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => webinar-content-is-capital-2 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-04-21 14:07:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-04-21 13:07:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://edtechnology.co.uk/dashboard2/?post_type=articles&p=7725 [menu_order] => 2327 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6825 [post_author] => 74 [post_date] => 2018-11-16 11:49:19 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-11-16 11:49:19 [post_content] => Content marketing it set to become an increasingly popular marketing tool in 2019. With that, HE providers need to start thinking about how they can tap into this resource. In a bid to ensure that your content is good enough to win in the competition of student screen time, Zengenti will be co-hosting the next webinar run by Education Technology and University Business. Content is capital: getting the best return on your investment in content. To delve into the difficulties content can present, Content Strategist Gabriel Smy will be taking to the sofa to talk all things content. Currently at Zengenti, Gabriel is designing websites for higher education and local government organisations, as well as museums, emergency services and the NHS. His role is to keep client content at the heart of every project. Hear his thoughts on the what the future of content in higher education looks like and how you can use it to your advantage. With a background in writing and communications and more specifically digital content, which spans over a decade, he is perfectly placed to advise on content strategy. This webinar is now available to watch, register to view it below
By submitting this form, you are providing your information to Education Technology and Zengenti and agreeing to be contacted about relevant content, services and products in the future.
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Has there ever been more pressure on universities to recruit students? With more university places being offered than ever – but a decline in the number of 18-year-olds – the higher education market has become ultra competitive. How will you keep quality applications rolling in?

The key part of any successful student recruitment strategy is your website. According to one survey, 74% of students checked out university websites to make their 5 UCAS choices – far higher than any other information source.

So what does your website need to be showing to applicants? What are they looking for?

Which? University ran a survey in 2014 to identify the main reasons behind student choice. That’s a good place to start. Combine that knowledge with Zengenti's experience building higher education websites, and you've got some insight that could greatly improve your online recruitment drive.

1.  Show off your course content

The number one factor influencing student choice (by miles) is course content.

That's right – details of your courses. A whopping 73% of applicants said course content was important when selecting where to study.

It turns out students aren't simply looking for a good time. They want to know the gritty details of what's covered on your courses. They want to know exactly what they'll be studying and they’re comparing what you say about your degrees to other institutions scrupulously.

On the face of it, that's not hard to provide. Get as much detail as possible up on your site. Make it easy to read and easy to navigate, and you're already halfway there.

Manchester University goes one level deeper than many other higher education websites, breaking course units down into detailed topics.

The other half of the challenge is differentiation. How are you going to describe a course to make it stand out against your competitors?

That’s where you need to think like a marketer and find the unique selling proposition (USP) of your courses and hammer them home. As well as the dry facts of the syllabus, tell prospective students a story about the course – how much they'll enjoy it, how it will transform their future, how they’ll follow in the steps of great alumni.

There's a principle in website design of 'show don't tell'. This means you should never pass up the opportunity to demonstrate information visually. If your course has an award or a famous lecturer, publish the rosette or mugshot. If the faculty has had a facelift or got some modern art in the foyer, share a picture. If you've got the fine detail of lectures that make up a semester – publish it for all to see.

And there's no point in loading your website up with rich course content if no one can find it. Embark on some user experience work to see how easy it is to find the courses. Usability experts Nielsen Norman Group looked at how users interact with university sites and discovered that “48% of users didn’t realize that the university offered the programme that they were looking for even when it did.”

The problem was that if the course wasn’t where they expected it to be, they assumed it wasn’t offered. Make sure that the course names are visible as close as possible to the first navigation point.

Because if course content is as important as the survey suggested – it should be leaping off the page.

A clearly labelled course A-Z, like this one from the University of Kent, reassures visitors that they are seeing the complete set of options and means they are less likely to miss the course that they want

2.  Trade on your academic reputation (or change the story)

Next on the priority list for students is overall academic reputation. Six out of 10 applicants said it was important in choosing where to study.

No surprise, and great news if you're top of the academic tables. If you are, then you should be showing it. Oxbridge excepted, you can’t be too big to assert your reputational dominance. Durham University doesn’t assume that centuries of academic prowess and top rankings in both UK and world tables will have been picked up by today’s 18-year-olds.

Durham University starts its ranking story in search engine results pages, by adding it to their page title

But what if you're not top of the tables?

Here's the thing: if your academic reputation is, to put it euphemistically, nascent, then change tune. Tell a different story. Don't let the big hitters get away with hoovering up applicants just because they have the best reputation.

Because some students turn down Oxford and Cambridge. They’re looking for something else.

Maybe it's because they don't think they'll fit in with the culture. Maybe it's because the course doesn't look as appealing as elsewhere (don't forget reason number one). Maybe they've got an eye on the nightlife, and they've heard the one club in Cambridge is somewhat seedy. Maybe they want a degree that actually prepares them for real life.

In that case... gotcha! Maybe your university culture is incredibly diverse and inclusive. Maybe your university has some amazing courses. Maybe everyone knows your city is pumping every night. And maybe your degrees don't just stimulate the mind – they prepare students for the world of work as soon as they walk out of the door.

Or maybe it's something else completely different that your institution is brilliant at. The percentage of students who get work experience. Your international appeal. Your famous alumni. Your green credentials. Your modern facilities.

Don’t make something up. Young people are very sensitive to marketing-ese and skeptical of messages that come across like a sales pitch or feel generic. But find an authentic angle on what your university offers, the more distinct the better, and start to prove it.

The key thing is to work on that story – hone its appeal – and to tell it strategically throughout your site from its first appearance in Google down to your 404 page. Give plenty of evidence. Leave no one in any doubt of the big reason to choose you over some stuffy old table-topper.

Central Lancashire University’s story of real-world suitability and world class renown is much more compelling than their 2017 ranking (99 out of 127).

3.  Share those graduate employment rates

Why do students apply to university in the first place? Two thirds of applicants said it was to improve employment prospects or pursue a specific vocation. So it’s no surprise that 58% looked for graduate employment rates when wondering where to study.

Graduate employment rates tell you the percentage of graduates in paid employment or further study six months after graduating.

Publishing that one number could make a difference to your application rate. So are you showing it?

This is another opportunity for 'show don't tell'. Feature your graduate employment rate loud and proud. Even if it's not the highest in the country, highlighting it may have a positive effect. Every university has one; not every university is using it to their advantage. By publishing your figure you are indicating that you take employability seriously.

St Mary’s University Twickenham is near the bottom of the league tables, yet its graduate employment rate, shown here as a message on its homepage, is among the highest

Nielsen Norman Group found that, obvious though it sounds, “The About Us page is one of the top places where prospective students go to decide if a university is a good fit for them.”

So now you know where to put your employment rate statistic.

And with all of these content features there is an opportunity to back them up with social proof. Social proof is evidence of other people choosing or enjoying your service. For example, for graduate employment you could show photos and testimonials of graduates in their new workplaces. It takes some effort to gather the quotes and images, but social proof is a powerful way to reinforce a message for new recruits.

If students applying today already have their eyes on the workplace (and number 5 suggests they most certainly do), then show them images of employment, not just of study.

4. Showcase your academic facilities

If graduate employment rates are important, just as many applicants consider the quality of your academic facilities vital in choosing a place to study.

In addition to describing courses in great detail, what can you tell them about your libraries, IT suites, laboratories and lecture rooms?

It's a well-worn cliché, but images are worth a thousand words. Norman Nielsen group again:

“Visitors make value judgments about your school based on the images that you use. A few photos of sporting events: users see an emphasis on athletics. A video gallery with thumbnails of people that all look the same: users see a lack of diversity.”

Show the applicants where they will be working and what wonders are available to them. Even better, have a student present a series of video tours of your facilities to add that crucial social proof.

UCL’s YouTube playlist, also shown on its website, showcases some of its many academic facilities available to students and the general public

5.  Demonstrate your links with employers

The final clincher for selecting a higher education destination again concerns employment. Half of applicants surveyed were looking for strong links between the university and employers.

Take a look at your site. Click through some of the admissions and course pages. How long before you see an employer? Are they visible at all?

The Nielsen Norman research found that people expected to find job placement information in alumni pages. As it is such an influential measure, it should not be confined to one section. But bear in mind that if users look in the alumni area, they should find at least a link from there to the employer content.

Again, you don't have to be top of the graduate employment tables to have a story about where you connect to the world of work. If a high percentage of your courses feature work experience placements, make sure applicants know about it from the start. Even a single successful alumnus would make a powerful testimonial. Explore what information you can show about where graduates end up working.

Southampton University fronts its website with a message about employer-student links. Clicking the button takes users to a page listing its Careers Service resources and services, employability rankings and companies it works with

Get recruiting

You don’t need a rocket science doctorate to find out what content applicants are looking for on your website and give it to them. There is plenty more research out there, and you’ll have data of your own to make these general findings more refined for your market. 

The important thing is to work on the content:

  • For the areas that applicants care most about, share as much information as possible.
  • Make that information really easy to find.
  • And don't just write about it, but show visual evidence – images, videos, callout stats and graphics.
  • Back up what you've got with successful stories and stats from those who have gone before.
  • And tell the story that will engage your applicants right across your website, from the metadescription that appears in search results to the header on every page.

If you haven’t got the information required, or your website is not optimised to show it off, then you’ve got some work to do. Start collecting alumni employment stories and data. Commission some new photos. Work on both your message and your website user experience.

It will be worth it. Given today’s student recruitment challenge, you can’t afford not to.

This blog was originally published on the Zengenti website.

Check out their webinar on 'how to give your university the digital edge' here

[post_title] => Five things applicants care about the most [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => 5-things-applicants-care-about-the-most [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-15 11:21:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 0000-00-00 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 2831 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7645 [post_author] => 1 [post_date] => 2018-03-26 13:58:03 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-03-26 12:58:03 [post_content] => [embed]https://vimeo.com/310118044[/embed] Watch the webinar to discover:
  • What students are really looking for when they come to your website and how to give it to them
  • How one leading Russell Group university is expanding in China by making sure that visitors behind the “Great Firewall” have the best possible user experience
  • Why 48% of university website users might be missing your degree programmes, and what you can do about it
  • What content gives you the best bang for your buck by reaching multiple audiences at the same time
[post_title] => How top universities are gaining the digital edge [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => webinar-how-top-universities-are-gaining-the-digital-edge-2 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-04-21 14:54:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-04-21 13:54:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://edtechnology.co.uk/dashboard2/?post_type=articles&p=7645 [menu_order] => 2974 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 745 [post_author] => 45 [post_date] => 2018-03-26 00:00:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-03-25 22:00:00 [post_content] => Complete the below submission form to view this webinar and discover:
  • What students are really looking for when they come to your website and how to give it to them
  • How one leading Russell Group university is expanding in China by making sure that visitors behind the "Great Firewall" have the best possible user experience
  • Why 48% of university website users might be missing your degree programmes, and what you can do about it
  • What content gives you the best bang for your buck by reaching multiple audiences at the same time
By submitting this form, you are providing your information to Education Technology and Zengenti and are agreeing to be contacted about relevant content, services and products in the future. [post_title] => How top universities are gaining the digital edge [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => webinar-how-top-universities-are-gaining-the-digital-edge [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-01-09 10:05:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-01-09 10:05:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 2978 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 821 [post_author] => 13 [post_date] => 2018-02-19 00:00:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-18 23:00:00 [post_content] =>

A free webinar will see the Firefly team explain how you can transform your organisation's digital presence to get an edge on the competition…  

Today’s students are digital natives – they don't remember a time before the world wide web. This year's cohort probably won't even remember a time before broadband or 3G mobile internet. They have grown up in a globally connected world, able to access information at the touch of a button, expecting to carry out everyday tasks without delay.  

Combine this with the fact that a university education is one of the most expensive purchases most of us will make, and it's obvious why students have high expectations when they arrive on your website. 

Zengenti work with some of Europe's leading universities. They transform their digital presence by building websites that achieve organisational goals by meeting the needs of their users. Universities including the London School of Economics, King's College London, and the European University Institute are among the company's longest standing clients.

In this webinar, three experienced members of the Zengenti team will explain how you can transform your organisation's digital presence to get an edge on the competition.     

Jonathan Lewis, chief commercial officer at Zengenti, will talk about why people and strategy are more important than tools and systems, and how to create the environment for innovation in a change-resistant culture.

In a market full of similar courses, with equivalent qualifications, and almost identical fees, what makes you unique?

As the higher education market grows increasingly competitive, getting your message right is more and more important. In a market full of similar courses, with equivalent qualifications, and almost identical fees, what makes you unique? Content strategist Gabriel Smy will explain how to craft the stories that set your institution apart from the competition.    

Of course, prospective students aren't the only users of your website. Your content has to serve the needs of a multitude of visitors – from enrolled students and staff to alumni. Gabriel will explain how to use content strategy to ensure that your website works for all of your users.     

Even the best content is useless if pages take forever to load, if frustrating forms are sabotaging conversion rates, or if basic design mistakes mean your site is unusable on a mobile device. 

User experience designer Jon Maskrey will show you how to deliver your content in a way that makes it easy for your visitors to get what they need while providing you with the best return on your investment. Jon will explain when to test designs to save your organisation tens of thousands of pounds, where to make improvements to your website that will have the greatest impact on your bottom line, and how to make sure that students have a seamless experience across mobile and desktop versions of your site.

Register for this webinar to find out:

  • What students are really looking for when they come to your website and how to give it to them
  • How one leading Russell Group university is expanding in China by making sure that visitors behind the 'Great Firewall' have the best possible user experience
  • Why 48% of university website users might be missing your degree programmes, and what you can do about it
  • What content gives you the best bang for your buck by reaching multiple audiences at the same time

 Register to view the webinar here

[post_title] => Does your university have the edge? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => does-your-university-have-the-edge [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-19 11:49:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 0000-00-00 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 3064 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 1297 [post_author] => 23 [post_date] => 2017-09-18 00:00:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-17 22:00:00 [post_content] => This article is the first in a three-part series looking at the ways you can step up your digital game to meet the many challenges facing higher education – from Brexit to the increasing commercialisation of the HE sector. Over the course of the next three months, I’ll show you strategies, technologies, and techniques that will bolster your digital presence so you're prepared for whatever the future throws at you. Having a well-designed website isn't simply a nice thing to have anymore – it's an absolute necessity for any institution looking to compete in today's crowded international market. Your website offers students around the world the chance to get a feel for the character of your institution before they visit in person. We are now always connected to a wealth of information through the devices we carry in our bags, in our pockets, or on our wrists. We are increasingly using these devices to research, do, or buy something in the spur of the moment. You need to be in front of potential applicants wherever and whenever they are online. And to really stand out, you need to deliver them highly-relevant and eye-catching experiences on their very first visit. You simply can't afford to waste a first impression with irrelevant content. This isn’t easy. Like most organisations, universities have a variety of different users and a range of organisational priorities. Unfortunately, there is only a limited amount of space on any homepage. I meet many university staff who struggle to prioritise the messages that take centre stage. This is often due to pressure from stakeholders. It can be hard to manage competing requests from the admissions department, the alumni department, and whichever faculty has made a major research breakthrough that week. So, what’s the answer?

Creating a content strategy

Juggling the needs of your users and your organisation isn’t easy. Ultimately, both have to be met. The best way to do this is by creating a content strategy that sets out how your organisation will use content – written or otherwise – to meet both user needs and business objectives. An effective content strategy can: ●     Increase the return you get on the investment you make in content ●     Identify the correct channels to use to meet your goals ●     Improve the effectiveness of your campaigns ●     Manage stakeholder demands to publish content ●     Increase the lifespan of your website Different universities approach content strategy in a variety of ways. Some institutions – particularly in the United States – employ full-time content strategists within their departments. In the UK many universities are just beginning to recognise the importance of content strategy. It’s more common to hire a strategist to produce a content strategy and provide tools such as content templates and style guides. Whatever approach you take, your content strategy should provide a blueprint that defines what you do with the content you have today, identify gaps you need to fill, and help prioritise the content you create.

Setting out what your content strategy should cover

Here are some key questions you should aim to answer.

Why are you publishing content?

Any content strategy begins with identifying your business’s objectives – what you need to get done. Without knowing what you want to do, it’s almost impossible to create a plan to bring about change. Identify the major drivers at your organisation – both in the long term and the short term. Different universities will have different priorities. If your objective is to recruit more students, your focus will probably be on increasing the number of applications you receive. You might decide to concentrate on communicating your league table results, the employability of your students, or another aspect of your institution that you know students find appealing.

Brunel University London’s homepage highlights the opportunity to study in the heart of one of the world’s greatest capital cities.

On the other hand, if you are a world-renowned university, in the top ten or twenty in the world, you probably don’t have any problems recruiting students. Instead your focus might be on ensuring you recruit the very best students ahead of other universities. In this case your strategy could revolve around highlighting the word-leading quality of your research and facilities.

Statistics on CalTech’s homepage highlight the university’s reputation for producing some of the world’s most renowned academics.

Once you’ve identified these high-level objectives, you can create meaningful metrics to act upon. If you’re trying to increase total applications, for example, the number of visits to your open-day landing page is a meaningless metric. A far more useful metric would be the number of people who actually attended an open day. Of course, if over time you identify a significant discrepancy between vanity metrics, such as visits, and meaningful metrics, such as conversions, finding the cause can help you identify aspects of your content that could be improved.

Who are you publishing content for?

Who are you targeting with this content? Is it potential students or people within your organisation such as existing students or staff? University websites have many different audiences and purposes. As well as engaging prospective students during the student recruitment cycle, the website must also support current students and staff, engage with alumni, and promote research to ensure future funding.

This large welcome message for new students on The University of Warwick’s homepage might be welcoming to next year’s intake, but it won’t engage year 12 students researching universities over the summer break.

I see many university websites with calls-to-action that are too specific or not specific enough. While drawing attention to your medical school open day is okay if you know most of your potential students are interested in becoming doctors, it is far too specific if only a small proportion of your intake study medicine. My colleague Gabriel has written a fantastic guide to the things that potential students really care about. How many of those are highlighted on your homepage or in your information architecture?

What are your users trying to do?

While all content should support your high-level goals, each individual piece of content should also have a specific purpose. Students looking to attend university now have grown up with the internet, have had access to a lot of information from an early age, and will arrive at your website well informed and expecting your site to be easy to use. They will arrive looking to complete a task – whether that’s to look for entry requirements for a specific course, sign up for an open day, or find information on accommodation. Your website should be designed to make completing these tasks as easy as possible.  

This call-to-action encouraging visitors to sign up for Imperial College London’s email newsletter dominates their website – but how many visitors are coming to the website to sign up for a newsletter?  

Taking a task-focused approach allows you to set criteria that you can use to judge the effectiveness of a piece of content. By evaluating whether a piece is helping users perform the task it’s intended to facilitate, you can determine whether it’s working or if it needs improvement.

The University of Reading’s homepage is very task-focused – even going as far to highlight information aimed at reassuring students and researchers worried about Brexit.

Tying content to user-tasks can also help you justify refusing to publish or prioritise content that doesn’t meet a user need. After all, does any visitor to your homepage really want to read your VC’s statement on the university’s centenary celebrations? Remember, every piece of content that isn’t serving a purpose is taking up valuable space that could be occupied by more useful content.

Where should you publish content?

Identifying why you are producing content and who you are creating it for can help you decide where to publish it. Consider whether your website is the right channel to reach the specific segment of your users you are targeting. For instance, is it really worth putting alumni messaging on your website homepage? This would be quite easy to determine by looking at analytics. You might then decide that this audience is more likely to engage with an email newsletter or social media campaign linked to a dedicated landing page. Thinking carefully about where you publish can not only help you reach the right audience and make your content more effective, it can also free up space for other content that might be better suited to specific channels.

When should you publish content?

Some content is time critical – especially when it’s supporting campaigns. Take student recruitment. Early in the academic year, your focus will probably be on engaging year-12 students and getting them to sign up for an open day. In the summer you’ll likely be running clearing campaigns.

Cardiff University’s smart homepage design promotes their clearing campaign whilst also making space for a course search and advertising upcoming open days.

Your strategy needs to take account of this and allow appropriate space for these campaigns. Creating a calendar of content that you want to promote across different channels throughout the year can help you to organise your campaigns and give you plenty of lead time when you need to make design changes or do significant development work to your website.

How do we plan to manage content once it’s published?

Governance is an important but often overlooked part of content strategy. All content has a shelf life – at some point it will need to be written, replaced, or removed. Even the most evergreen content needs updating from time to time. Your content strategy should deal with which department or member of staff owns each piece of content and who’s responsible for keeping it up to date. Left unchecked a website will grow out of control – especially as staff leave or change departments and the content they looked after is forgotten about.  Who looks after that microsite you created for that research project three years ago? A comprehensive content audit can help you identify what content you currently have on your website and what you should do with it.

Making your content strategy work

If your content strategy is to be effective, it’s essential that everybody involved gets on board with it. Start the process by communicating what you’re going to do. Call a meeting where you explain the importance of getting your content into shape and explain how it will help the university. Alternatively, send an email around explaining what you’re doing and asking people what they think could be improved about your institution’s current workflow. It’s important that people don’t feel that they are having something imposed on them but instead that you are putting a strategy in place that will help them with their job. Make key stakeholders feel involved by running workshops with them. Finally, when your strategy is solid, put it into writing, get agreement from leadership, and set it free among your colleagues. There’s no better time than now to get started. The universities that succeed digitally over the coming years will be those that have their content aligned with their organisational goals. After all, can you really afford to lose ground to your competition? Written by Ryan Bromley This article was originally published on Zengenti.com [post_title] => Why content strategy brings a competitive edge to uni sites [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => content-strategy-brings-a-competitive-edge-to-uniersi [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-10-01 11:12:43 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-10-01 10:12:43 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://edtechnology.co.uk/dashboard2/dashboard2/Blog/content-strategy-brings-a-competitive-edge-to-uniersi/ [menu_order] => 3495 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 8726 [post_author] => 14 [post_date] => 2015-11-02 00:00:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-11-01 23:00:00 [post_content] =>

In this always-connected day and age, a higher education website is often the first port of call for many prospective undergraduates, and is also used frequently by current students and staff.

It’s a tough balancing act to support and appeal to such diverse audiences – and attention spans are chronically short nowadays. So websites must be engaging from the off, and they must be consistent in their approach to embed the brand in the minds of visitors.

“There are a lot of university websites that are hard to navigate and are a huge mess of pages”

Web designers and higher education content specialists Torchbox tell us that as well as engaging, a truly great website will also “demonstrate the University’s uniqueness and personality”. To help do this, they recommend “a proper editorial team and a publishing system that allows them to be creative” so that there’s a constant stream of articles, images, videos, and more to grab the eyes of readers.

Content management designers Zengenti agree, saying that “well-written, original content” is a must-have element. They also note the value of “usability and design”, saying that “there are a lot of university websites that are hard to navigate and are a huge mess of pages.” They additionally stress the importance of an internal content creation team: “Unique content that originates from the university itself, from lecturers, research or students [or] internal journalists to develop and articulate great stories to be published on digital channels.”

But a University’s website is not Buzzfeed, and it must adhere to certain things. “The key aspect of any website is that it both represents its brand clearly and that it is easy and intuitive to use,” say designers and digital marketing experts Fat Media. “It needs to be modern, responsive and work well for those who are searching for specific information. In addition it needs to convey the USPs of that particular institution. This is particularly important when it comes to higher education websites, especially when prospective students are shopping around.”

Evidently there’s lots of moving parts in a higher education website, and unless you manage to get them all functioning in unison, the site could splutter to an unceremonious halt, acting as more of a repellent than something to lure people in.

Fat Media warn of a range of pitfalls that institutions must be wary of – first and foremost, the layout. “Often institutions run into the problem that they know how they are structured but it’s not always obvious to the external user,” they say. “Making sure that searching on a site is easy is a key aspect of making a site easy to use. In addition, sometimes it’s hard to find important information that should lead off course pages such as fees, student support and facilities. It’s important that higher education institutions think about the links that they need to provide between pages so that prospective students don’t get lost.” 

“We are working on a content planner that involves news stories and student content too, so that we have a reason for people to keep coming back to the site to find out what’s happening…'

Simple, eh?

Zengenti highlight other issues that occur behind the scenes. Even if you have great branding, great content, and great layout, there are still potential spanners flying everywhere: “Internal wrangling over positioning on the website, lack of coherent strategy for governing the website, lack of alignment between marketing/communications and IT, [and] a mistaken view that the website is for the university and not for an audience.”

Conflict and interdepartmental woes crop up in Torchbox’s advice too, but they’re keen to stress the element of creativity. Even if you manage to toe the line with all of the above, a lack of engagement can be killer. “Great higher education sites publish content that transcends different types of user. Good content can appeal and engage anyone, so strive to provide fresh content with universal appeal.”

Torchbox go further to say: “Consider treating your site like a magazine that fuses the content and style of a Rough Guide (to your town), like DesignBoom, Science Magazine, RadioLab and Time Out. Pull that off and everyone will come back for more.”

This interactivity plays into the idea of not being (or not just being) a ‘shop window’. “A shop window infers a ‘broadcast’ mentality, lacks interaction and focuses on promotion,” say Zengenti. “While an underlying role for a website may be promotion, audiences are not convinced by being ‘told’ about something, they need to witness it. Show, don’t tell.”

The Sitemorse rankings, which are advocated and used by Times Higher Education World University Rankings, recently released their third quarter statistics. Sitemorse catalogues and analyses data from higher education websites around the world to give people an idea of which are currently faring best.

In the current rankings, FutureLearn, a distance learning service that partners with many establishments around the world, comes top – something you might expect from a dedicated online brand. More traditional institutions like The University of Manchester (third) and Anglia Ruskin (eighth) also score very well.

“While an underlying role for a website may be promotion, audiences are not convinced by being ‘told’ about something, they need to witness it. Show, don’t tell.”

The former explain that some of their success is down to “a complete overhaul of the site structure, simplified user journeys and [making] navigation more intuitive,” but, as is a common theme, content rules supreme. “One of the things we’ve learned from focus groups and workshops we’ve had with prospective students is that they want to communicate with their peers, want to know more about life in Manchester, and learn from the experience of others. We need to facilitate that and I think that’ll be the direction we’ll be taking in future.”

Manchester go on to say that simplifying the ‘journey’ was a vital step as “80% of our users are prospective students (or related audiences such as parents and teachers) who come to the site primarily to look for information about courses.” The University Of Manchester averages 700,000 visits a month, with over 39 million pages viewed each year – a quarter of these via mobile platforms.

Anglia Ruskin demonstrate a few of the things that Fat Media, Zengenti and Torchbox have advised, especially when it comes to communication and content.

“We hold weekly and monthly reviews to ensure we have all the content we need to reflect what’s happening at Anglia Ruskin as well as address our key priorities,” they say. “We meet with all areas of Anglia Ruskin on a regular basis and have a central repository for changes and feedback. We align the content with the academic calendar and try to serve relevant content at the relevant time.”

Continuing, they say that their focus is on video content. “We are working on a content planner that involves news stories and student content too, so that we have a reason for people to keep coming back to the site to find out what’s happening… we’re working on our social media presence and are constantly looking at new ways of engaging with all of our audiences. We encourage interaction with students and enjoy hearing their news and ideas.”

'We align the content with the academic calendar and try to serve relevant content at the relevant time.”

And we’re back to that old chestnut: content is king. It might seem daunting to hire a whole team for one aspect of the website, but there are opportunities for integration of the student body here. Delegating to students with strident voices is an asset – in exchange for the experience and CV-bolstering, many students will happily pen an article or two on their course or student life. First-hand experience is always a better selling point that a patronising, omniscient narrator – let the smiling faces on campus sell the establishment. A few pros here and there wouldn’t go amiss, of course – if your university runs a journalism or marketing course, you’re on to a winner.

It may not be a ‘shop window’, but the higher education website certainly borrows many of the main elements of the retail environment. This is a broad topic, and while both universities and design entities have diverse expertise to offer, they all circle back to the double-headed central tenet of branding and content.

ABOVE: Torchbox believes that not all universities can own a colour like Oxford

TOP 10 DOS FOR BUDDING REDESIGNS:

✔Clear branding – KISS! (Keep It Simple, Stupid).

✔Aesthetic cohesion (Fat Media say “web-friendly fonts” and a strict adherence to “acceptable colour contrast ratio” are vital, while Torchbox explains that “not all Universities can own a colour like Oxford or Cambridge, but even if you do, that doesn’t necessarily help because overuse of one colour across a massive site can be stultifying”).

✔Stick to the message. Make sure departments know what to do and are communicating effectively.

✔Acknowledge and implement social media trends – make sure they’re relevant though. Lots of cat pictures are perfect, if you have a course in Felineology.

✔Zengenti say that a sophisticated course search is essential: “it allows prospective students to easily compare courses, almost like a shopping cart.”

✔Longevity needs to be in the back of your mind; a website isn’t the finished article, but rather a work in progress.

✔Sector specific information can be hard to handle, but bust that jargon. Drop acronyms!

✔Gimmicks and flashy scripts. This is a professional portal, not PowerPoint 101.

✔Regular updates – if you are posting content, make sure it’s little and often, not info-dumping once a month.

✔Proofread! If you’re spelling basic words wrong, people won’t take you seriously.

[post_title] => Content is king [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => content-is-king [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-10-15 14:55:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 0000-00-00 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 4693 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 9 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6914 [post_author] => 2 [post_date] => 2018-11-21 00:00:37 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-11-21 00:00:37 [post_content] => Your website is a key part of a successful student recruitment strategy. 74% of students check out university websites to make their 5 UCAS choices – far higher than any other source of information. Your institution's success hinges on getting it right. To guarantee that your content is successful in reaching students, join Zengenti in their webinar 'Content is capital: getting the best return on your investment in content' on Tuesday 27th November. Register for this webinar to learn:
  1. How to lay the foundations for a website that works for you, not against you. 1 in 10 potential students reject a college or university due to a poor website experience. Don’t risk being eliminated at the first hurdle.
  2. Learn how leading universities are using content to win the battle for students. The most successful universities are telling compelling stories that set them apart from competitors. What's yours?
  3. Get practical advice you can actually use when you create your next piece of content. Discover tools and techniques you can provide to your staff, schools, and departments to get them producing better content.
Exploring the potential of great content, Content Strategist Gabriel Smy will be taking part in the webinar Q&A with Education Technology editor Charley Rogers to explain what content strategy is, why it’s so important, and how you can use it to transform the fortunes of your organisation. Gabriel Smy is a content strategist at Zengenti, the company behind the Contensis CMS used by leading universities such as the London School of Economics, King’s College London, and the University of Birmingham. Gabriel has over a decade’s worth of experience working with digital content for agencies and in-house teams. As a result, Gabriel has a deep understanding of both the client and agency sides of a web project, particularly helping universities overhaul the way they manage content. Don’t miss your chance to ask him your burning content strategy questions in the upcoming webinar. Register here and send your questions to content@zengenti.com [post_title] => Top 3 takeaways from Zengenti’s webinar on content strategy [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => top-3-takeaways-from-zengentis-webinar-on-content-strategy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-11-21 12:27:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-11-21 12:27:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://edtechnology.co.uk/dashboard2/?post_type=articles&p=6914 [menu_order] => 2315 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 9 [max_num_pages] => 0 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => 1 [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => [is_tag] => 1 [is_tax] => [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_privacy_policy] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => [is_robots] => [is_favicon] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 35bc742cce20ea7d43535dd279f0f5f3 [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) )

Zengenti

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What we do

Zengenti builds the Contensis CMS – the powerhouse behind the websites of some of the world’s leading universities.

People love Contensis. It provides them with an elegant user experience and an unrivalled sense of ownership over their content. It handles global websites and supports content creators with its savvy workflow.

Contensis works out of the box, but it is also supported by our talented professional services teams. We can offer anything from user experience and front-end design, through to custom applications and even content strategy.

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