Future student online experiences

Future student online experiences

Sharing the work of the Prospective Student Web Content Team

Understanding our schools’ provision for prospective undergraduates  

The team has just completed our audit of a selection of school sites.

We’ve uncovered some interesting themes and trends that will help inform the build of a new system to replace the degree finder and better meet the needs of student recruitment colleagues in schools.

Why did we audit school sites?

We wanted to better understand how school websites serve prospective undergraduates – what content do they publish and why?

Specifically, we wanted to discover the extent to which the content published on school sites mirrors or expands upon what we see in the degree finder.

The aim was to broaden our understanding of what schools do on their own sites that the degree finder can’t.

While we’ve been doing this, Carla has also been looking at corresponding Google Analytics data.

Read Carla’s post: Using website analytics to understand prospective undergraduate student’s behaviour

What did we audit?

We couldn’t audit every school and subject area, so we chose a selection of school sites to audit, based on criteria relating to what students need to know about a discipline.

The degree finder is very standardised in its content structure, and we wanted to focus on areas that don’t fit easily into these constraints:

  • Delivery and teaching methods, such as field trips or vocational placements
  • Assessment methods such as groupwork or observed practical skills
  • Unusual entry requirements, such as interviews or portfolios

Over the course of 7 weeks, we reviewed:

  • Archaeology
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Edinburgh College of Art
  • Engineering
  • Geosciences
  • Informatics
  • Medicine
  • Social work
  • Veterinary medicine

How did we do it?

We’ll go into more detail on this in a subsequent blog post, but in summary, Louis and I spent a lot of time reviewing websites manually, and created a spreadsheet logging system that we evolved over time.

We did the work in sprints which meant we had time to reflect on how the process we created was going, get feedback on the results we were producing, and improve our approach incrementally.

So we’ve produced a lot of data and analysis that will feed into our upcoming content modelling exercises, and I’ve also summarised the more notable trends to share with the student recruitment and marketing web publishing community.

What did we learn?

The audit produced some really interesting insights into our provision for prospective undergraduates.

Here are the key trends and themes we identified:

  • The greater the volume of UG content on a site, the more issues around good content governance we saw. For example:
    • out of date content
    • potential breaches of GDPR

Potential gaps in current degree finder provision

The most important element of our audit work was to identify areas of content that the undergraduate degree finder doesn’t accommodate.  It’s this insight that will feed into the upcoming content modelling and technical specification.

These are the types of content we found on school sites that don’t fit neatly into the degree finder at present:

  • Student profiles
  • Alumni profiles
  • Staff profiles and contact information
  • Student blogs, vlogs and podcasts
  • Showcasing outstanding work by current/former students
  • Student support resources and schemes like UniBuddy
  • Mental health and wellbeing support
  • Virtual tours
  • Image galleries of facilities or student artwork, for example.
  • Detailed info on facilities
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion content
  • Research – themes, case studies
  • School links with industry and outside institutions
  • Subject rankings
  • Reasons to choose to study a given programme at Edinburgh
  • Careers
  • Detailed entry requirements and admission/selection procedures
  • FAQs (although we won’t be introducing these into the new system. Find out why FAQs are a bad idea )

Have we missed something? Get in touch

If you manage content for prospective students, and publish things that we’ve not talked about in this blog post, get in touch. We’d love to learn more about it and see how it might be integrated into our plans for the future provision for prospective students.

2 replies to “Understanding our schools’ provision for prospective undergraduates  ”

  1. Aaron McHale says:

    Great to hear about the types of content that you uncovered during the audit work!

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