An Engaging Online Experience is Critical to Universities

August 16, 2011 Dennis McGuire

One message we consistently emphasize at CodeBaby is the importance of creating a unique and memorable website experience for your visitors.

Strategies to accomplish this goal include clean website design, compelling content, targeted landing pages, mixed media, and interactive technology.  But you don’t have to rely on our opinion that a positive web experience is important – there’s research that proves it. Higher education consultants Noel-Levitz recently published a study, “2011 E-Expectations Report: Students and Parents.”  This report gathered information from college-bound high school seniors and their parents about their expectations of college websites, social media, and recruitment.  While we found all of the research interesting, this stat in particular really jumped off the page: 

“One in five students said they removed a school from consideration because of a bad experience on an institution's Web site.”

1 in 5 college students said they didn't attend a university because of their terrible website.

Think about this stat in the context of real-world numbers.  A university or institution of higher education could lose 20% of its prospective applicants if the website fails to deliver a positive experience!  That could translate to a significant loss in enrollment that most universities can ill-afford given the challenging economic conditions and decreasing enrollment numbers. Forward-thinking institutions have recognized this fact, and they have taken steps to provide prospective students and parents alike with a better, more engaging website experience.  Consider a CodeBaby client, Pike’s Peak Community College (PPCC).  As the second largest community college in Colorado with more than 20,000 students, its applicants frequently need to complete the in-state residency application.  Due to some very specific requirements and residency questions, the form itself is rather complicated and long…and PPCC noticed a lot of students “abandoning” the form without completing it.

PPCC utilized a virtual assistant to reduce form abandonment rates

After researching strategies to reduce the form abandonment and to provide a more positive viewer experience, PPCC enlisted the help of CodeBaby to create a digital Conversation.  A Conversation is a highly realistic digital character solution that “lives” on a website, and it is customized via appearance, voice, and interactions.

In the case of PPCC, they added a digital character to guide the residency form completion process.  More than a “talking head” or static FAQ section, the customized digital character “Addy” guides visitors through the application process and provides interactive support whenever needed.  Now, interested students can complete the form accurately and without frustration.  This web enhancement has translated to more completed forms and a better website experience for prospective students. To learn more about CodeBaby and how we’re developing Conversations that improve your visitors’ experience – and your conversion rates – please contact us today. 

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