When it comes to web strategy, colleges and universities face a difficult challenge. With so many different audiences to address, including current and future students, faculty, donors and parents, colleges need to produce a massive amount of content to meet the needs of everyone who visits their website. Navigating through all that information can be a daunting task, especially if you’re a high school senior with the attention span of a… Oh look! Something shiny!
To help prospective students find all the relevant information they need in a medium that embraces their preference for interactivity, more and more colleges and universities are adopting microsites as part of their undergraduate recruitment strategy.
Microsites are mini websites created for a specific audience and a specific purpose. Setting up a microsite can help universities cut through the clutter. Because they have their own URL, they can direct viewers exactly to where they want them to go, making them ideal for undergraduate recruitment purposes. Microsites also allow for more creative freedom and flexibility. As a standalone website, they can “break the rules” of the larger institution and have a unique look and feel.
Balancing creativity with quality content is the recipe for success when it comes to university microsites. Here are five of our favorite sites:
Love video? Then you’ll love www.masonmetro.com. Not only does George Mason offer a variety of video interviews from current students and faculty, it also features a page for prospective students to submit their own videos on why George Mason is the perfect fit for them. The interactive online campus tour is also packed with informative video content that gives visitors a good feel for the university.
For students, by students. That’s the tagline for www.insidecolby.com which features a live stream of student tweets and a host of blogs written by real students. The blogs are a helpful tool for prospective students who want to get a sense of what their lives would be like at Colby College. Hearing stories directly from the students themselves and seeing the many ways they interact with the campus feels much more genuine than a staged testimonial by the university’s marketing department?
Johns Hopkins University
Like Colby College, www.hopkins-interactive.com also has a live streaming Twitter feed and a variety of student blogs. However, one of the unique features of this microsite is its collection of online forums where prospective students can ask questions and engage in conversations with current students and staff. It’s also a great marketing tool for the admissions staff, as visitors must register with their email address to post their own questions to the forums.
Saint Louis University
Over the last few years, Saint Louis University has built a library of videos and written content to answer prospective students’ frequently asked questions on www.beabilliken.com. Visitors can learn about how to work with an admission counselor, what the classes are like, how to get involved on campus and most importantly, what a Billiken is. The site also includes quizzes where potential students can find out what majors are a good fit for them and how much they already know about SLU.
Oregon State University
Compelling storytelling is the hallmark of Oregon State University’s www.poweredbyorange.com. This site features a collection of video stories of OSU graduates with unique tales to tell about their college experience, such as Vanessa, the second Latina woman to graduate from OSU’s traditionally male-dominated construction engineering management program. The student profiles showcase the diversity of OSU and illustrate to prospective students that there is a place for each of them at the university.
Much like college promotional videos, effective college recruitment microsites offer a true picture of campus and emulate the voice of real students. Adding bells and whistles can help enhance a microsite, but the quality of the content is crucial. If the microsite doesn’t answer prospective students’ frequently asked questions, they’ll move on quickly to something else.