Website technology is always in motion. New mobile devices, new design standards, and new search algorithms mean that websites must constantly evolve to stay relevant. Though we recommend a site redesign every 4-5 years, we also understand every situation is unique. Examine your college or university website through fresh eyes and be on the lookout for these indicators that suggest it's time for a redesign.
Your Site Isn't Responsive
The evidence is all around us: Smartphones and tablets have changed the way people access information and connect with one another. In fact, according to data released by Google in 2016, more than 50% of the nearly seven billion search queries performed each day originate on mobile devices.
Responsive web design ensures that content appears the same across devices—a feature that maximizes the user experience, fosters engagement, and even protects a site's search engine ranking. If your institutional website isn't responsive, it's time to protect your brand, your traffic, and your bottom line by making a responsive site redesign top priority.
Navigation Is Difficult
How visitors access information is as important as the information itself. If your site's navigation structure is unclear or too complex, it's likely alienating users, draining traffic, and ultimately damaging your brand.
Explore your site as a prospective student would. How quickly can you find information on academic programs, tuition and fees, and financial aid? Are the calls to action obvious? How easy is it to apply, enroll, or schedule a campus visit?
Engagement Is Low
We can't stress it enough: Analytics are the key to understanding how your website is experienced by users. A high bounce rate or low pages-per-visit number may indicate a site revamp is in order. Together, these two metrics show that visitors aren't finding your website useful (a content issue), aren't finding relevant content easily (a navigation issue), or simply don't find the site engaging (a design issue).
A New Brand Has Been Developed
Your institutional website is your school's flagship property, accessible 24-7-365 to audiences around the world. Not only should it reflect the very latest brand and brand messaging, it should instantly communicate the very best of who you are and what you stand for. If your school has updated its identity, a site redesign is definitely in order. But remember, a brand is more than a logo and tagline that can easily be swapped out; it’s woven into content tone, photography, color palette, typography, and a host of other design elements.
Updating Content Is Difficult
The well-worn adage is true: Content is king. If updating your web content requires the aid of IT personnel, it's time for a site redesign. Commercial CMSs like OU Campus™ feature intuitive interfaces that anyone can use. That simplicity helps ensure your site's content is fresh, relevant, and SEO-optimized by empowering contributors across your institution.
Site Redesign + CMS Implementation: The Power of Coordination
Integrating a site redesign with a new CMS is not only smart, it's strategic. When you move beyond homegrown or open source CMS solutions that rely on resource-draining patches and workarounds, you help ensure your site's long-term success. Commercial CMSs like OU Campus are website powerhouses that drive engagement by providing:
- Customizable search features: Your new site's content is only as good as the search feature that supports it. Customizable search tools like OU Search™ encourage visitors to stay on sites longer by helping them find information easily.
- Accessibility tools: Your constituents have varying degrees of ability. Ensure that your new site meets today's accessibility standards with OU Campus' Final Check feature.
- Interactive calendars: Visitors want to know what's happening on campus day by day and even hour by hour. Help them stay on top of important events with an interactive calendar like OU Calendar™.
- Intuitive interfaces: Keep pace with the speed of content and liberate your IT staff. Intuitive interfaces with drag-and-drop functionality allow contributors to update site content easily and independently—regardless of technical background.
- Responsive customer support: Take the burden off of your in-house IT staff. Connect with knowledgeable CMS professionals, participate in user feedback forums, and get the latest in product and feature updates.
At OmniUpdate, we understand that schools have varying levels of resources. Some institutions may simply need a quick website lift—an option that our implementation team can easily and efficiently manage. Others may choose to handle the redesign in-house or engage one of our experienced higher education partners. And if full site redesign isn't in your budget right now, our OU Design Library™ offers pre-built, skinnable website design templates that provide a quick and easy refresh.
So, is it your time for a site redesign?