Audit of fees content – what we uncovered
Our audit of college, school and subject area websites highlighted the importance of following the new guidance we’ve just produced for web publishers.
In addition to our user research and analytics work which has informed the delivery of new fees-related provision, we conducted an audit of tuition fees content on school and colleges websites through April 2020.
We found many instances of duplicated, out-of-date and factually incorrect fees content.
The audit covered 32 subsites and 370 pages containing fees-related information. We focused on colleges, schools and subject areas, and left out some programme and research group microsites.
Tuition fee directly stated on school websites
We saw numerical figures for tuition fee rates explicitly stated in 19% of cases.
In a small number of instances, simple typos meant the wrong fee was listed, or there were obvious contradictions between stated costs and the same costs available, for example, in the degree finder fees table.
Out-of-date tuition fees on school websites
Some fees that were directly listed on pages were from previous academic years (so not relevant to prospective students). In other instances, while fees were not directly stated, links directed students to fee tables from previous academic years.
Copy that could be misinterpreted
Language is very important when dealing with tuition fees content. Copy written in a particular way can convey incorrect messages to students. For example, we found the heading ‘cost per year’ on a postgraduate taught part-time programme, which suggested fees remain the same each year (when they increase).
Formatting and style guide issues
Beyond accuracy and clarity issues, we also saw lots of style and quality related issues including:
- naked URLs used instead of link text – very poor for accessibility and search performance
- headings not formatted correctly – again an accessibility and search performance issue
- broken links – reducing confidence in our content and prompting extra enquiries
Improving our website experiences
We’ve just published guidance for website managers. Following these simple steps will eliminate these issues and reduce risk and content management overhead in future.