Learning. Lifelong learning. It starts from the moment we are born and ends when we die. It requires an enquiring mind, an open approach to knowledge, an appetite for information and an affinity for acquiring it.

Increasingly that appetite is satiated online. Indeed, in the Internet of Things (IoT) age, if you are not able to provide easily accessible information on your University and College course (UK) or Programme (USA) then chances are they will look elsewhere very, very quickly.

There are two main areas for achieving this: the first is finding your course or programme page through their search engine of choice (predominantly Google), the second is guiding the prospective student quickly and easily across all of the detail so they can either choose or, at the very least, shortlist your course/programme for their ongoing education needs.

Both need to work beautifully together.

a student journey begins on your landing page, make it easy to navigate

When it comes to the second requirement, too often we see Universities and Colleges imposing their own legacy system requirements on their prospective students. The journey these prospective students must take is dictated to them by the administrative and back office restrictions that the Institutions impose upon them. Whilst this is an easier route to take. Easy is seldom right in those circumstances. More often than not, this leads to tortuous, prolonged and inefficient journeys. It leads to user/student frustrations, bad brand experiences and often the user leaving the site before the end of the journey.

It ends in missed opportunities.

As the global market for students grows ever more competitive, the days of relying on history and reputation are quickly dwindling. In the UK, Russell Group universities are increasingly under pressure for students from their young upstart competitors who offer slicker, more effective interactions that convey the brand aspirations of the establishments far more powerfully than any amount of historic reputation can. Many remain resting on the laurels and face an increasingly expensive road to catch up the longer they wait to react.

Young people of the 21st Century are fickle and demanding, they expect superb service, they expect to be treated as individuals, they expect to be made to feel as special as Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google make them feel. Their default reality is seamless, personalised interactions supported by the great examples of online service delivered day in, day out by the web’s main players. To ignore this expectation is to court a rapidly increasing decline in student interest and numbers at your university or college.

To negate this decline, today's Universities and colleges must embrace modern best practice online, put the student at the heart of their business (for business it is) and ensure the “User Experience” is at least on a par with the best retail and technology websites out there. This means understanding the pertinent received protocols, applying them to the specific needs of the student research journey. It is about understanding how parents and teachers may travel the same information differently and enabling that diverse experience to happen. It is about having the courage to not reinvent the wheel, but instead to keep it simple whilst adding value wherever possible. It’s about understanding the various user's motivations and desired goals, then excelling in delivering them. Many of these are similar, though some may be unique to an individual web site.

After Digital Wireframes for glasgow caledonian university as an example of student journey

These are wireframe examples from our work with Glasgow Caledonian University, where we worked to optimise the staff and student journey on their site.

The questions, then, revolve around how well your web partners understand the various user groups, their needs, desires and goals, as well as how well any digital agency can support you and your needs, challenge your assumptions but nevertheless work in partnership to achieve the best for your users. As global Tribal partners on the T4 platform and with multiple education sector websites, intranets, alumni portals and digital strategy/roadmapping projects under our belt, After Digital is uniquely placed to assist you. In fact, our work with Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen impressed their IT Director so much that he joined our team.

a student journey starts at the landing page, make it a good one like our work with Robort Gordon uni

Example of the landing page we worked to create for Robert Gordon University

Don’t commission a team that will be learning on your budget, come and talk with us at After Digital. We’ve climbed the learning curve, so we can hit the ground running on your project and ensure that the best practice we’ve developed over the years can be quickly and efficiently deployed to support your online presence. Helping you to grow and scale your student recruitment activity.

Whether you need a tactical short-term student recruitment site, a faculty-based information zone, a fully fledged institutional roadmap or simply a refreshed optimised student-oriented front-end design, AD have the experience, knowledge and skills to deliver. Get in touch with us by using the form below!