Redesigning and Managing the College Website

  • ID: 1843499
  • July 2011
  • 52 Pages
  • Primary Research Group
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This report looks closely at the website development and management practices of eight American colleges including Westminister College, the University of Texas at Austin, Ohio State University and Western Kentucky University. In detailed profiles, websmasters and communications directors explain how they are integrating audio and video into their sites, exploiting new social networking tools, organizing their content management systems and controlling costs while enhancing the institutional reach and image.

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About this report

Summary of Main Findings

- Website management: Staffing

- Website management: Content

- Distributed authorship

- Target audiences

- Social media integration

- Traditional marketing integration

Ball State University

- Background

- Website development

- Multiple-source authoring

- Target audiences

- Audience analysis

- User testing

- Multimedia/social media integration

- Marketing strategy

Black Hawk College

- Background

- Website development

- Launch costs

- Staffing

- Management

- Plans for rolling updates

- Marketing strategy

- Audience analysis

Chowan University

- Background

- Website management: Saving through third-party services

- Controlled information flow

- Target audience

- Personalized experience through microsites

- Widespread video implementation

University of Hawai'i - West O'ahu

- Background

- Website development and management

- A joint-platform approach

- Target users

- Marketing

- Future plans

The Ohio State University

- Background

- Website development

- Unique function: Word clouds

- Management

- Development plans

- Marketing strategy

The University of Texas at Austin

- Background

- Website management

- A move toward distributed authoring

- Target audience

- Usability testing

- Social media: 'Longhorn Confidential'

- New media initiatives

- Web as a curatorial tool

Western Kentucky University

- Background

- A commitment to interactivity and multimedia

- Website development

- Embracing social media

Westminster College

- Background

- Website development and management

- Decentralized CMS

- Website analysis

- Social media

- Marketing strategy

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The report, written by veteran journalist Mathew Cunningham, looks closely at the forces shaping decision making by higher education management and by webmasters and web designers. The report profiles the efforts of eight US Colleges - The University of Texas at Austin, Ohio State University, Westminster College, Ball State University, the University of Hawaii at West O'ahu, Chowan University, Black Hawk College, and Western Kentucky University -- to maximize the appeal of their websites for enrollment marketing, productivity enhancement and institutional prestige, among other goals.

The report outlines how the subject institutions build, maintain and secure their websites and also how they organize the organizational structure of the institutions' web content, marketing and communication, and IT teams. The study examines how colleges use their website to target their main student demographic and how they incorporate video, audio and the use of social networks into their website strategies.

Several of the profile subjects provided candid descriptions of their institutions' future web development and marketing plans. Like many other aspects of collegiate website management, these plans vary widely from institution to institution.

The design, features, quality and effectiveness of collegiate websites varies in every imaginable form, from sites that contain little more than a series of static links to full-featured online destinations that incorporate the cutting edge of social media personalization. Likewise, the structure behind these sites varies from an informal team of contractors and part-time contributors to large offices in which full-time staff members hold a close rein on content and accessibility. But the complexity and sophistication of these websites does not correlate with a university's size; in fact, some of the most innovative features being incorporated into collegiate websites are coming not from large research universities but from small, regionally known institutions with one or two forward-thinking administrators driving the charge.

The findings in this report provide a general indication of current best practices, and subsequently can serve as a useful reference for administrators, web content managers and marketing professionals seeking new, innovative ways to connect online with their institutions' students and stakeholders.

Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown
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