In higher ed digital communications, mobile usage is a very hot topic. We know an overwhelming number of young Americans rely on their smartphones and tablets for web browsing. Last year, 97% of students have visited a university or college’s website on a mobile device, according to 2014 Social Admissions Report by Chegg, Zinch, and Uversity. And yet, many schools aren’t making the grade.
According to the survey, two-thirds of students said their experience with schools’ mobile sites was “challenging” or “just ok”. They are demanding mobile sites that are easy to navigate and contain the most useful information. So how can higher education institutions improve? We have a few ideas:
- Offer the most relevant information, including sections on About, Admissions, Academics, Financial Aid, Alumni and Campus Information. For some schools, Athletics should be included.
- Place a search box prominently at the top of the page, so students can easily access specific information.
- Highlight several upcoming events on campus
- Clearly display your school’s logo and contact information
We applaud schools that jumped in early with mobile offerings, and we can see them fine-tuning those products. Other institutions are now rolling out mobile products, like our client, the College of Saint Rose, which just debuted its mobile site. But others remain on the sidelines, plotting their strategy and relying on their desktop site.
Maybe you’re wondering about mobile applications. Perhaps that’s a route your school is considering? Mobile apps are highly customizable and can offer much richer information, but there are obstacles. Students need to search for a school’s app and then take action to download it. A mobile site is simply easier to access. According to the Social Admissions survey, three-quarters of students said they would not download an app for a school they were researching. (Mobile apps for current students and alumni are a different story and would likely attract more users.)
For any school still on the sidelines with mobile products, we urge you to move quickly. Your school could be losing out in the highly-competitive race for prospective students. Sanmita has worked with many universities and colleges on mobile products, and we can help with your mobile strategy and your mobile site.