College Website "Must Haves"

Qlue have worked with colleges across the UK for many years, developing and refining websites that are focussed on driving traffic, helping visitors find the right course and, finally, encouraging enquiries and applications. Below are our top, "must have" features for your college website to achieve this.

1. Integrated Course Data

The foundations of your website must be built on one simple idea - that your course data is up to date and accurate. For many marketing departments this is far from simple though and often means your busy marketing team spend all their time manually updating course information based on requests from all other departments around the college. The problems this causes are not just confined to the missed opportunities in attracting new applicants, but also creates long lasting issues with staff within the college.

The path to achieving a seamless integration of your course data with your website may seem too arduous to begin with but the benefits of getting it right far outweigh any problems you may face on along the way. When we take on a new website project it is the first discussion we have and our experience in proposing simple to implement technical solutions along with many years of experience in bringing together the key people at the right time makes this integration achievable within weeks.

2. Course Explorer

Now we have a solid platform and accurate course information on the website, we need students to be able to find them! Too often we have seen course search tools that are hard work, slow and unhelphul. Prospective students may become discouraged if the way they are searching for a course keeps returning "0 results found". In response, Our Course Explorer displays courses in a fun, interactive way and lets visitors look through the offering on their terms, not yours. It's also incredibly flexible - any data that is imported in the Course Dashboard can be set as a filter, for example, Full time or Part time, Venue, Course Type, Start Date, etc. If you add new data about your courses, for example, related careers, then you can add that to the Course Explorer without any additional coding and development required.

To see it in action visit: Northampton College

3. Online Applications

The application process is the final barrier for prospective students but, even at this stage, there are no guarantees. If the application form is confusing, too long, in any way irritating - for example asking unnecessary questions - then you may find a student that was ready to go is turned off at the last moment. Our team have countless hours of experience tackling the unique problems this crucial part of the enrolment process brings and we apply that experience to your specific needs, ensuring the best success rates possible.

To see it in action visit: Northampton College

4. Responsive - Desktop, Mobile and Tablet

Increasingly, the majority of your web visitors will be using mobile devices - smartphones and tablets, and in some cases this can account for over 80% of your audience. Our design process works with all screen sizes from the very start and throughout, working with responsive content, not simply responsive design. With this fundamental principle we can make clear decisions that ensufre the right features and content are displayed prominently to get the best results.

To see it in action visit: Lewisham Southwark College

5. Simple, powerful CMS

A modern, open source CMS should be the backbone of all college websites. The requirements of handling hundreds of dynamic course pages, many different stakeholders and a wide range of audience segments means colleges rely heavily on the reliability, flexibility and simplicity of the CMS. We work exclusively with Joomla as it gives us all this, and with the right ongoing support, gives you the stable platform you need to build and move your online marketing forward.

6. Automated Marketing - Communicate with your audience

The need to engage with your students has never been more clear than now. Shrinking marketing departments with tougher targets need tools that will help track, engage and report on your prospective students with minimum effort. The next generation of college websites will be doing this - will yours?

For more info: Spotlight

7. Careers, not courses!

CareerMatch meets the demands of aspirational students, those that look beyond the college course to where that may lead. Put simply, CareerMatch connects occupations with courses. It works seamlessly with all Qlue websites, integrating a library of content about occupations and automatically connecting courses with occupations.

Why is this a must have?

  • Analytics show significant improvement in indicators of interest - students want this information. 
  • Analytics also show in a simple report what occupations are the most popular, giving you valuable insight into where to focus your marketing and what courses to offer.

Find out more: CareerMatch

8. Personalised Prospectus

Students are among the most sophisticated web users and expect to have immediate access to the information they need. Waiting for a printed prospectus to arrive in the post or waiting for a bulky PDF to download is not immediate and of course the student still needs to read through the whole prospectus to find the information important to them. A new student enquirer may have to go through the exercise twice if they are considering full time and part time courses, where often there is a prospectus for each. And of course allowing students to download prospectuses anonymously means the marketing team miss the opportunity to collect a sales lead from the website.

See it in action: South Thames College

9. Optimised for search engines

Optimisation is not just about words - far from it in fact. The way in which it responds to different devices is now critical. Indicators of interest, for example, time on page also play a key role. Make sure that your content gets the best chance of being found with attention to detail on all technical aspects and by regular reviews and taking advice on how to achieve your search engine goals .

10. Secure, high-performance hosting

Performance and security are not simply about your website CMS. The hosting platform forms an integral part in protecting your site and ensuring it performs as well as possible. This is a particularly specialised area and IT departments will often not have the necessary skills or resources to successfully host your website. This is not something you should leave to chance!

If your website needs to work harder then please get in touch to see how Qlue may be able to help.

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