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Higher Education

The Guide to Making Your College Viewbook Design Stellar

Posted by Kristi Wire on Jan 9, 2018 9:00:00 AM

It's the gold-standard of your college marketing - but how can a viewbook survive in an increasingly digital marketing world? Your viewbook can still be the calling card of "the reasons why..." to attend your college or university.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind for making your viewbook look great and stay effective for student recruiting.

Digitize Effectively

You know you need to have a digital version of your viewbook - but how best to approach it? The most low-hanging-fruit method is to simply make a PDF version available. Just keep in mind that a digital version affords you elements a print version doesn't, so take advantage. Add relevant links to key pages on your website or internal or anchor links to make the PDF more navigable.

But don't fear that your stacks of print versions are useless - despite the trends toward digital, print still has a place. According to TechTimes, a recent study found that 92 percent of college students still prefer print books to e-books.

Outlaw the Stock

Sure, a college or university marketer might not always have the budget for a massive photoshoot for a single print piece. But the photography already being used across your college's marketing is well-suited for your viewbook as well. Certainly much more than stock. If at all possible, avoid stock photography like the plague when it comes to your viewbook. Savvy prospectives can see right through it (especially if you don't pay careful attention to the background topography ore the subjects' age/demographics).

A study from Digiday found that stock photography has been proven to perform more poorly than professional or original photography on digital platforms - by a nearly 40-point margin.

Print Creatively

All of the above isn't to say that a printed viewbook shouldn't still be part of your university or college's marketing arsenal. In fact, Generation Z isn't completely devoid of love for print as a medium. It's also a generation, though, that values authenticity and uniqueness perhaps more than any before it. So while your print emphasis might not be as strong as it once was, the material itself needs to stand out - this means high-quality production, eye-catching (but not gimmicky) framing and novel approaches to presenting the content.

Throw the idea of a standard, staple-bound booklet out the window and start from scratch - what problem are you trying to solve for with your viewbook, and what might best depict how in touch you are with the needs of your students?

Show Experience

Professionalism and career opportunities are critical to the content of your college or university viewbook. But do you know what else is? Slice of life. It might be easy to rest on studious imagery and classroom shots, but millennials and Generation Z both seek out authentic, genuine experiences. If you neglect that aspect of campus life, you might turn off potential prospects. Show your students enjoying their college years, especially taking part in university activities that are unusual or unique. Set yourself apart in more than just your academic prowess.

According to a recent study, nearly half of American college freshmen said a good reputation for social activities factored into their college-choice decision. 

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