University presidential profiles: What do people learn in the first 5 seconds?
How well do colleges and universities introduce visitors to their presidents on their websites? Or put another way, how well do they follow basic principles of “writing right for the web” for content presentation?
The answer: not well at all.
For this Link of the Week, I searched for “university president profile” and “college president profile,” going 5 pages deep for the university search first and then 2 pages deep on the college search. Responses started with Harvard and Stanford and move on through a variety of public and private sector schools large and small.
Almost no entry makes use of subheads, bullet points, or links within the profile. Instead, visitors are presented with a long (and occasionally short) block of text that is impossible to scan in 5 seconds or less for significant information about a particular president. On presidential profile pages (as on every website page) forcing people to read a long block of text from top to bottom of the page guarantees that relatively few people will do that.
Hollins University was an exception.
At Hollins large subheads followed by short easy-to-read paragraph content quickly tell us 4 things about President Pareena G. Lawrence:
- A Lifelong Passion for Women’s Education
- A Distinguished Academic Career (with 3 bullet points highlighting special points)
- A Keen Interest in Equity and Access for Women
- A Devotion to Family
A place to add a link…
The section on “equity and access for women” notes that the president co-edited a new book in 2017. That’s a perfect place to include a link to either the Cambridge Scholars Publishing book description or to Amazon. Visitors who click on the book cover image included are taken to a jpg of the same image. That’s frustrating.
Most colleges and universities have people on staff who know how to best present content on a web page… starting with providing content that’s easy to scan as that’s what web visitors will do first. So perhaps the content presentation style of presidential profile pages reflects the fact that few people visit them? And that presidents seldom ask about visit level… and whether or not the people who do visit stay long enough to be actually reading them?
Google Test My Site gives the presidential profile page a “Fair” 6 second mobile speed rating, estimating a 24 percent visitor loss from download speed.
Follow the Link of the Week…
For a rare presidential profile page with easy-to-scan highlights, visit “Our President and Leadership” at Hollins University.
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