Your Website Isn’t a Project. It’s a Perpetual Work in Progress.
I like to refer to a website as Grand Central Station because it’s your primary marketing and communications hub. Prospective students find your website through a Google search. Inbound and outbound marketing tactics drive traffic there. Your program brochures have your website address printed all over them.
Let's face it, your website is your absolute #1 marketing and recruitment tool.
If you’re a typical University, you spend an extraordinary amount of time, energy, resources, and money on a website redesign project. You then let the site depreciate over the next two years until it’s time for the next major overhaul where you once again spend an extraordinary amount of time, energy, resources, and money. Fast forward a few years and it’s wash, rinse, repeat.
Sounds like an expensive and inefficient way to manage your most valuable marketing asset. Actually, it sounds like mismanagement or even neglect. That neglect has an obvious price that you pay every few years but it’s the not-so-obvious price that really hurts. Let your website depreciate over time and eventually it will stop working for you and start working against you. How so?
- Subpar content is added to the site. It is not professionally written, it is not web-friendly (lengthy), conversions and calls to action are not top of mind, it is not SEO-friendly, and proper styling isn't applied to enhance read/scanability.
- Typos and grammatical errors are introduced.
- Links break.
- Outdated content stays on a site (i.e. an event that has passed).
- Content is not updated (i.e. a dead blog).
- Large images are added to the site (affects download speed and user experiences).
- Subpar images are added to a site.
- Poor layout decisions are made (i.e. red text for announcements, centering text when styles call for left-justification, calls to action aren't prominent, etc.)
- Built-in styles aren't used where appropriate (H1, H2, etc.)
- Software is not updated.
- Google Webmaster tools aren't checked.
- Page Not Found errors aren't checked and fixed.
All of this depreciation will have a negative impact on user experience. That, in turn, will affect enrollment.
At one University, 36% of enrolled graduate students cited the website as their primary source of access to the university. Think about that: The website was responsible for recruiting more than one-third of their enrolled graduate students. That’s one hard-working admissions counselor. However, it’s important to note that this University’s website was built and maintained using strategies and tactics that kept it operating at peak efficiency. Two years after launching, this website still produces the same number of organic inquiries as it did when it was fresh off the assembly line. Depreciation hasn’t occurred because the website redesign wasn’t treated as a “project.”
The solution? Work at it. Continuously.
By modifying colors, layout, calls to action, and other elements, you can continuously make minor improvements to your website over time. In the course of 2-3 years, those minor improvements all add up to something major. And think about this: If you make these small improvements continuously, you may not even need the major overhaul.
Not only are you saving all that time, energy, resources, and money every few years, but you’re also maintaining the website at a level where it will continuously work in your favor. In other words, it will always work hard to generate leads and help achieve your enrollment goals.