Your website is probably the first interaction people have with your college or university. First impressions are everything, and your university website serves a wide audience. The usability of your college or university website is critical.
So what can you do to improve the user experience on your higher education website?
Why do people use your site? Are your users prospective students? Alumni? Family members? College faculty? People looking for jobs? What are users looking for when they get to your site? Can they find it easily? Is the navigation clear and usable? Is there too much information causing confusion? If users can't get to the information they are looking for or they are overwhelmed with your site, you might as well count them out as future customers.
This might seem like an obvious step, but often times it's overlooked. Ensure that your site is accessible to all your potential users. Ensure your site is functional and easily used with only a keyboard. Is your site easily browsed with a screen reader? Make sure your images have appropriate and descriptive alt text. And have you thought about video transcripts? If your website is not accessible what does that imply for the user about the rest of your university?
The speed of your site is important, especially now with the ever-growing number of users browsing with mobile devices. With the increase in competition for users' attentions, it's important to grab it from the moment they browse to your site. A page that loads too slowly could mean the difference between a future customer or a ship passing in the night.
Testing your site is vitally important. Test in multiple browsers on multiple operating systems. Test with multiple users with multiple browsing styles. Test with all the tools with which you can find to test. Remember that your internal team is not the consumer of your website, so test with actual users to ensure everyone's needs are being met and that your university or college site is available for everyone to use easily.