When looking to optimize the user experience throughout your website, an intelligent search function is a great place to start.
Navigating Higher Education: Trends and The Power of Search
An efficient site search on your university's website can serve your existing students and faculty while enhancing the digital experience.
With over 19 million higher education students in the US alone, understanding their digital behavior is crucial for success. An efficient search can serve as a way of not only providing your existing students and faculty an ease when locating information but can draw in new prospective students.
Higher education websites are content-rich resources. Content that is relevant for students may not be relevant to faculty. And if a prospective student visits the site and is unfamiliar with the website interface, there is a potential for them to leave and not return.
How can search alone enable students to make an informed decision when selecting the university they'll attend?
An effective search allows for the right information to be prioritized, showcasing the content in a hierarchy which is beneficial to the audience. By creating a seamless experience, you save them valuable time and build a positive rapport.
A report conducted by Google found that the student decision process has moved online, with 1 in 10 students exclusively use online resources to research and make their final selection. It is now more crucial than ever for universities to master the interactions between their audience and websites.
Trends within search in higher education websites
Students are on the lookout for a more personalized approach when accessing websites. 89% of potential students prefer personalized marketing. Personalized messaging is a strong competitive advantage for retaining higher ed website visitors. This not only strengthens and makes the brand identity more memorable, but also appeals to the audience. By curating content and presenting it on your website at the right time and place, students can resonate with the feeling that your university is the ideal place for them.
In recent years, trends in higher education have highlighted a transformation, challenging the conventional belief that a 3-4 year college degree is the sole path to success. There has been an increase in value being placed upon alternative education programs such as online courses, bootcamps and short courses. Mckinsey and Co surveyed over 7,000 students spread across 17 countries. Over 65% of those surveyed wished to have components of their course to remain online following the pandemic. This was mainly thanks to the flexibility and convenience which online education provides for students.
Further trends were noted in a summit hosted by EduWeb, finding that 70% of students interviewed agreed that both affordability and financial assistance were of utmost importance when selecting a college to attend. 90% agreed that free academic support services would positively influence their decision to apply to a college, and 87% agreed for their priority to be access to free career services. With these statistics in mind, boosting content focused upon financial guidance may be worthwhile in capturing the attention of potential students.
Common mistakes and challenges which universities face
Prioritizing user-centric content over promotional content is an essential principle of website design, which universities sometimes tend to overlook. By being consistent in displaying content which your audience is searching for, your website cultivates an engaging and valuable experience. Higher ed sites must cater to audience preferences and source relevant information. When information is scattered across a page, users will have a hard time locating what they need to find. In the worst cases, this can delay their academic experience and hinder other important tasks.
67% of students are using their mobile devices to complete or partially complete their school work and activities. This highlights the importance of having a website which can adapt to mobile devices, being easily accessible on the go.
Strategies in enhancing search with analytics and Q&A Chat
Incorporating search analytics into higher ed website metrics is imperative in understanding trending search behaviors and patterns of your audiences. The analytics derived from Cludo provides universities with insights into which content is effective and where content gaps exist. You may even decide to do A/B testing with the website hierarchy, and check the analytics for data to back up which courses, for example, are commonly sought after by students. Analytics provides universities with an well-informed and data-driven decision making process.
Our Q&A Chat feature provides another opportunity to strengthen the brand and meet search expectations. Q&A Chat is built on ChatGPT and provides answers to queries within seconds in a conversational experience that is available 24/7. If a student has a question about a course, the chat experience allows for further discovery within the same interface.
Investing in an efficient search engine is vital in the increasingly digital world. Not only will an effective search increase productivity, but will support the streamline of information, save your support team from answering customer queries, and overall increase website visitor satisfaction.
Looking for ways to enhance your website, and curious to learn from our customers' experiences with Cludo? Read more here!