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Stephanie GeyerStephanie Geyer, Creative Strategy VP at Ruffalo Noel Levitz, is one of the 12 presenters of the 2019 Higher Ed WEBSITES Conference.

In this 3-question interview, Stephanie tells us about the worst and best web trends in higher ed, a great tool and shares a top 3 of favorite higher ed websites.

1) What are the worst and best design trends used on higher ed websites?

When it comes to worst trends, I’m stunned that institutions are still developing one-size-fits-all homepage experiences that often lead with school news. This eschews the foundational concept of relevance to the marketplace. Sure enough there will be “news” that is relevant for prospective students but putting it all in a bucket for users to sort through is not the way to get them to read this content. For each news story, the institution should consider the market it best serves and then apply to all of the channels that touch that group. There are so many ways now to serialize content and website development options that allow placement of the right story on the right page in the right moment.

For the best now, I’m always happy to see colleges and universities finally come to the realization that their website, first and foremost, is a sales tool. This is a challenging position as many schools are still far from embracing the fact that they do need to market and sell their programs. Working on navigation to put prospective students (all markets, not just the high school crowd) and decision influencers first and then developing content that really positions the brand and program details is crucial. Want to stand out from the competition? Start there.

2019 Higher Ed Websites Conference

2) What are your top 3 favorite higher ed websites?

The University of Wyoming
A great example of strong brand positioning, consistent messaging and a website that tells the story of the school, students, programs and culture while driving prospective users through the enrollment process.

California University of Pennsylvania
They get how important it is to own the homepage as a sales tool.

Temple University
They’re also doing a great job of putting admissions first. Scroll down to see how they categorize their news stories, which I think is appealing to a wide variety of users. Even if you just skim and don’t click you get a sense of what they’re into (sustainability, community engagement, research), which reinforces their brand.

3) What’s your favorite tool for web work?

I’m intrigued by the value of AI or chatbots to support self-service on the Web. We’re just starting to study this with E-expectations and I think it is a great tool for marketers and web dev folks to pilot. Done well, I think it provides quick answers that can draw the user in for deeper exploration while fostering a sense of the institution’s commitment to supporting prospective students.

A conference focusing on higher ed WEBSITES?

The 2019 Higher Ed WEBSITES Conference is a must-attend event for higher ed web professionals and teams looking for inspiration, ideas and best practices to kick off their summer projects.

Read below what a few of your higher ed colleagues who attended the 1st edition of the Higher Ed WEBSITES Conference say about the experience.

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