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Conference Followup, Chapter 2

August 5th, 2010 by Erick Beck

Yesterday I posted what I felt were the most important elements that I took away from the eduWeb conference and how we should use those to refresh our larger web strategies. Today will be less structured, simply posting what I saw as good one-off ideas without a grand scheme.

Brand

  • Users will draw a parallel between your website and the university as a whole; since the web is now the primary way prospective students interact during the decision-making process you can very easily loose a prospect at first glance.
  • People come to a site to accomplish a task, make it easy for them to do so. Branding should hilight the page, the page should not be about the branding campaign.
  • “You are what you publish.” Most people will leave a site and not come back if they have a “negative” experience with it – broken links, blurry graphics, bad navigation, bad search results, etc.
  • Make page photos relevant – most people don’t care what the XYZ building looks like, despite being on almost every university admissions page.
  • Expectations shape perception. If the user has a pre-conceived notion about something on your site, that will often be more powerful than the information you are trying to portray.
  • We run on byte-sized first impressions; online attention span is such that if the first glance isn’t positive the user will go elsewhere.
  • Know your audience and don’t try to be all things to all people. Each university has an identity and is not necessarily right for all people. Be authentic and realize that someone who doesn’t fit into your campus culture probably will be better off if they go somewhere else.
  • Cut the barriers of communication. 1 picture = 1,000 words, and video is 24 frames (pictures) per second.
  • For-profit institutions like U of Phoenix spend up to 45% of their entire budget on marketing. The traditional university spends 2%.

Social Media

  • Allow customers to be agents of your brand. Social media is a two-way conversation, so we should be letting customer-generated content do as much talking as we do ourselves.
  • When responding to a controversial topic, do so immediately. Being late in getting your message paints you as not understanding the medium and allows others to frame the debate.
  • Integrate your social media efforts – “The only place for silos is on a farm”
  • User experience is the key, so talk to them using terms they are familiar with, which is often not the language that the university office in question prefers. Be real, not administrative. If your tone is too formal you will come across as not understanding the medium and your efforts can wind up backfiring on you.
  • Social media isn’t a place you go, it is an extension of your self. Your “likes” and such identify who you are and identify with. Users want to be a part of a community.
  • “Social media” doesn’t matter. People matter. Make a real connection. Focus on the message, not the platform or medium by which it is delivered.
  • As social media usage goes up, its efficacy goes down. As it becomes more pervasive and more universities do it, you cease to stand out by being there. 90% of all universities now have a Facebook presence, saying you’re there doesn’t mean as much anymore.
  • People don’t like being told – be authentic and honest and allow them to make up their own mind.

Mobile

  • The user IS mobile, not just HOLDING one.
  • Building a mobile website is not the same as making your website mobile. Just as web content is different from print, so is mobile different from web. Customize your content.
  • Brands should focus more on the overall consumer experience rather than contemplate choosing a mobile web site or native application.
  • It does not matter whether a brand offers a mobile site or application. What matters is that consumers are engaged in the content.
  • Native applications for delivering static content are dead or dying. Use the website for that. Use apps for high profile projects, intense graphics or animations, and projects that tap into the mobile device’s hardware (camera, GPS, etc.)

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Thursday, August 5th, 2010 Mobile Web, Social Media
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