Departmental Website Redesigns Showing Positive Results

Posted on 4/4/2014 1:26:29 PM

The Web Team is pleased to announce that the first six departmental program pages redesigns have launched. Analytics from the first seven weeks indicate that these new pages are attracting more off-campus visitors, being found more often by search engines, and driving more than twice as much admissions activity.

These redesigns are part of the Strategic Website Assistance Project (SWAP), funded by the president’s Strategic Initiative Fund.

Given the results thus far, the Web Team wants to roll these benefits out to all our departments as quickly as we can. Departments can help by making sure that they review draft content, and provide names of students and alumni for interviews, as quickly as possible.

Updated websites include:

Based on our research with faculty and prospective students (surveys, focus groups, and interviews totaling over 1,000 responses) the new pages:

  • Put academic programs first
  • Put all material about each academic program in a single place on the website
  • Improve search engine optimization to attract more visitors
  • Make better use of photography and video
  • Provide more options for layout
  • Feature content that represent our message pillars and strategic vision
  • Show academic outcomes through short quotations from current students and recent alumni (something prospective students were very interested in)
  • Provide easy options for sharing this content on social media
  • Provide easy access for prospective students to take the next step toward enrollment. whether that is inquiring, visiting, or applying

Analytics from these first sites show impressive performance improvements. The following table compares the combined performance of the first five sites from their launch through the first week of April with their performance during the same period in 2013:

  2013 2014 Change
Pageviews 2,233 6,526 +192%
Unique Pageviews 1,576 5,085 +223%
Avg. Time on Page 0:00:36 0:00:53 +47%
Entrances 151 1,742 +1,054%
Bounce Rate 53% 85% +60%
Goal Value $144.37 $368.20 +155%

We are seeing large increases in pageviews, average time on page, and entrances directly to the program pages. These new visits are mostly coming from visitors who find these pages via search engines (traffic from search engines is up 180 percent). Goal value measures how much admissions-related activity these visitors carry out during their visits to the website (looking at visit dates, cost of attendance, admission requirements, etc.) and thus represents our best overall measure of how these pages are performing. (The rise in bounce rate—the percentage of entrances that don’t lead to a second pageview—is currently the only major negative indicator we’re seeing; to some extent that’s a consequence of bringing in more search traffic.)

The websites are being implemented by the Web Team with assistance from the School of Graduate Studies and Research.