Your Higher Education Marketing Link(s) of the Week… “Search” on 3 Canadian Higher Education Home Pages… 10 January 2020

3 Canadian Home Pages Give Dominant Position to “Search”

Conventional wisdom at most colleges and universities is that the website home page should immediately start telling a story that reinforces the preferred brand image.

Brand reinforcement, of course, is not what most visitors want to experience on a website visit. Most people want to leave the home page as quickly as possible and get on with completing the task that brought them to the site. Creating a navigation system for rapid task completion isn’t easy. To state the obvious, different visitors have diffrent task interests. That often leads to cluttered, complicated home pages. And frustrated  visitors.

One alternative: make the “search” feature (usually tucked away in a small spot at the top of the page) immediately obvious as the page opens for either mobile or large screen visitors. In visiting 56 Canadian colleges and universities for this first 2020 Link of the Week we found 3 schools that defy conventional wisdom. When the page opens you don’t see an immediate marketing message. You see the “search” box.

Marketing messages on each site…

Marketing messages can still exist despite the search box priority.

Both University of Calgary and University of Ottawa deliver marketing messages on the home page. But neither displaces the search box from the prominent position that gives it higher visibility than the messages themselve.

NAIT does the same by noting that it offers “world leading education and training” within the search box placement itself.

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

What we liked most about the NAIT effort was the opening line that uses the “you” work to speak directly to visitors: “What would you like to do?”





Univesity of CalgaryUniversity of Calgary

After a “weclcome” note visitors are asked to “explore” the university using the search feature. Simple, clean and you still get to see students walking past an imposing building. Just below you’ll see a major marketing claim: Calgary as the “Top reearch university in Canada.”





University of OttawaUniversity of Ottawa

Ottawa also begins with a “Welcome” note above a “search” box that’s more focused than either NAIT or Calgary. Here the prompt is to “Find a program or course,” a task that’s first or second on a Top Task list for potential students. Just under the “Welcome” word you’ll see a low key marketing prompt to “Discover all the good reasons to choose uOttawa.”

Follow the Links of the Week

Visit 3 Canadian university home pages that let visitors decide where they most want to go as quickly as possible from the home page:

Recommend a future Link of the Week

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