Best Practice College and University Web Pages… Standing the test of time
Most weeks I add a link in my blog to a college or university website that is superior (or very different if not superior) to what else is available in student recruitment, alumni relations, fundraising or other areas that I visit in preparing conference presentations and website reviews for my clients. Selections started in 2006. The archives end in 2016. Alas, no sites from 2006 are still active.
Links that are no longer active have been deleted. To my continuing surprise are the number of links that are still valid several years after they first appeared here. Scan the archives for the colleges and universities that have resisted the usual urges to “change for the sake of change.” These sites were strong examples when they first appeared. And they are today. (Some of the pages might still exist if they were migrated to a new website with different links. We didn’t check for this.)
This update was done in September 2021. If you are visiting after that date it is possible that some links will no longer work. Let’s hope that’s rare. Will update again. No fixed date for that but sometime toward the end of this year.
Recommend a Link of the Week feature on your website. Email me at email@example.com
Best College & University Website Archives
2016… 13 sites
June 10— Nova Scotia Community College… Tuition Costs & Fees… a Page for Every Program
Visit the clean and simple “Program Fees” page at Nova Scotia Community Community College where every academic program has its own cost page, complete with special fees for that program.
May 13— D’Youville College… 3 Calls to Action Lead Academic Program Pages
Visit an academic program page that can capture action steps from potential students without forcing them to look elsewhere on the website at Business Management at D’Youville College.
May 6— Fordham University… “First Destination” Outcomes for Class of 2015
To visit an “outcomes” pages that focuses on the most recent graduates, visit the Fordham University “First Destination” page.
April 22— Franklin University… Super Fast (93/100) Mobile Website
To experience an unusually fast interactive site that will help potential transfer students complete a top task ASAP, visit My Transfer Credit at Franklin University.
April 8— Davidson College… Video to Increase Enrollment Yield
Explore video innovation in student recruitment when you visit the “Ask a Wildcat” website.
March 25— University of Washington Foster School of Business… Fast-on-Mobile Blog & Easy Content Sorting
Visit a fast and easy-to-use professional school blog at the University of Washington’s Tucker School of Business Blog.
March 18— California Lutheran University… Fastest Mobile Home Page in Higher Education
Experience a faster than normal university home page on mobile (73/100) or desktop when you visit the California Lutheran home page.
March 11— University of Michigan… Interactive World Map for Internationalization
To see how one university promotes the international projects underway in many different countries, start at the University of Michigan Global Michigan page.
March 4— University of Maryland Grad School… Interactive Academic Program Finder
To experience a very visitor friendly introduction to the academic programs available at a graduate school, visit the University of Maryland Graduate School’s Program Explorer page.
February 12— Indiana University… New Academic Program Introduction
Visit an excellent example of a new program introduction that uses Writing Right for the Web best practices: Intelligent Systems Engineering.
February 5— Bates College… Just 4 Key Topics on a Minimalist Home Page
To visit a truly minimalist home page that shines in a world of clutter, travel to Bates College. (More on the page now in 2021 but it still opens with “4 Key Topics.”
January 15— St. Norbert College… Fast 2-Step Scholarship Calculator
To experience the calculator yourself, skip your smartphone and use your desktop or laptop to visit the St. Norbert “Scholarship Estimator” page.
January 8— Benedictine University… Hero Video Opens the Home Page
Gauge for yourself the impact of the Benedictine University video approach when you visit home page.
2015… 15 sites
December 11— Carleton College… Alumni Page Highlights 5 Networking Options
Check how an alumni home page gives immediate priority to a Top Task for the people using it, when you visit the Alumni Network at Carleton College.
13 November — Wharton School at UPenn… Clean & Complete 2015 Career Statistics
To see a clean and quick example of outcomes reporting from an up-to-date 2015 report, visit the Wharton School Career Statistics page. (Updated now for the Class of 2020.)
25 September — University at Buffalo… Clear Admissions Criteria Pass 5-Second Scan Test
To visit an admissions criteria page with greater than usual immediate impact, see “Do you have what it takes?” at the University at Buffalo.
11 September — University of Oxford… Infographic for “Oxford Experience” Facts & Figures
Visit an innovative approach to “Facts and Figures” content presentation at the University of Oxford infographic.
14 August — Otterbein University… 60 Second Scholarship Estimator
To experience quick and easy top task completion, stay on your desktop or laptop and visit the Otterbein University Financial Aid Estimator page.
7 August — University of Virginia… Unique “Career Communities” at Career Services Site
To see an unusually clear career services site that builds “career communities” around 6 broad academic areas start at the University of Virginia “Career Center” home page.
17 July — Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health… Great Presentation of Alumni Magazine Stories
For a rare example of design innovation that is also web-friendly visit the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health Summer 2015 magazine.
10 July — Sheridan College… Great Presentation of Alumni Magazine Stories
For great clarity in presenting 20 alumni magazine stories, visit Ovation at Sheridan College.
19 June — Oregon State University… Best Practices for Web Writing
Oregon State University has a great guide to help everyone on campus write and present better web content. Visit “Writing for the Web.” (Nicely updated in February 2020.)
22 May — Williams College… Easy-to-Read Financial Aid Glossary
Nothing can completely remove the mystery of the financial aid process. But to see an admirable step in that direction, visit the Williams College “Glossary” of financial aid terms.
27 March — Hamilton College… Strong & Clear Home Page Brand Statement
Visit a clean, simple & highly visible brand message (“Our Promise”) visit the Hamilton College home page.
6 March — Augustana College (SD)… Rare “Value Proposition” Page
Check a rare example of how one private sector college works to show the value of its degree in 10 areas (with extensive video use) at the Augustana “Value Proposition” page.
20 February — Franklin University… Quick & early transfer credit review
Potential transfer students can enter their courses for each major and see how these might reduce cost and time to earn a degree. Try the “My transfer credit” page at Franklin University.
13 February — The University of Chicago… Quick & Clear Career Outcomes
Review a career outcomes page that sets a model for easy-to-view content presentation when you vist Historical Undergraduate Outcomes at The University of Chicago.
9 January — Arcadia University… Clean & Simple Program Home Page Starts with 3 Top Tasks
For an excellent example of top task priority on a program entry page, visit the College of Global Studies study abroad page. (Now 4 Top Tasks and still a premier example of a study abroad page.)
2014… 11 sites
21 November 2014 — American University… “Know Success” by Major and Degree Level
Experience a quick, interactive trip through the career and earning potential of many different academic majors. Visit the American University “Know Success” website on your laptop or desktop computer.
7 November 2014 — University of Oregon… 9 Options to “Explore Your Passion” in Gift Giving
To explore how one university presents gift options to potential donors, visit the University of Oregon “Explore Your Passions” page.
24 October 2014 — Calvin College… “Cutting the Price Tag” Affordability Page
See how Calvin delivers the message that the sticker price isn’t the final price when you visit “Cutting the Price Tag.”
17 October 2014 — Northern Alberta Institute of Technology… Clean & Fast Academic Programs Page
For a simple, clean academic program page that rapidly delivers key task on employment and salary information visit the NAIT Digital Media and IT page.
10 October 2014 — Stanford University… Interactive & Slow Academic Programs Page
Visually attractive with a serious speed penalty for mobile. Visit the Stanford University Undergraduate Majors page on both your desktop or laptop and your smartphone. (Not tested again to see if mobile speed has improved for 2021. We can hope.)
19 September 2014 — Harvard University… Immediate Response Net Price Calculator
Visit the “Net Price Calculator” page to see how Harvard lets people complete a top task with speed and clarity in just 14 steps.
15 August 2014 — Colby College… Clean, Simple, Easy-to-Read Online Magazine
To experience a magazine that makes a great transition for the world of print to give priority to reading in an online environment, visit Colby Magazine.
18 July 2014 — Middlebury College… Unusually Easy-to-Use Faculty Intro Page
To visit an honestly web-friendly faculty page, head along to the Faculty and Office hours page of the Department of English and American Literature at Middlebury College.
21 March 2014 — Bentley University… LinkedIn Alumni Outcomes Page for Student Recruitment
Build a link to a page like this into your early email and text recruitment communication plan. Better outcomes info than just about any website. Visit the Bentley University LinkedIn page .
21 February 2014 — Wellesley College… A True “Quick College Cost Estimator”
Try this welcome alternative to the usual Net Price Calculator when you visit the Wellesley College “Quick College Cost Estimator.” Perfect for the first visit from a potential student.
7 February 2014 — Arizona State University University… Quick, Clean Scholarship Estimator Page
See what merit scholarships one major public university is offering freshmen for Fall 2014 when you use the ASU Scholarship Estimator. (Updated for current results.)
2013… 10 sites
22 November 2013 — Rider University… Outcomes Info for Major Academic Areas
See how one university is moving to provide information of high importance to potential students when you visit “Outcomes of a Rider Education.” (Now “Rider Stories” and still well worth a visit for a strong story-telling approach.)
25 October 2013 — Johns Hopkins University… A Strong Academic Majors Presentation
For an excellent presentation of the academic possibilities within an academic division, visit Fields of Study at the Krieger School at Johns Hopkins University.
18 October 2013 — American University… Excellent “College Affordability” Presentation
To see an excellent “affordability” presentation that highlights decreasing tuition increases, a shift to need- based aid and low loan default rates visit “College Affordability” AU and Your Educational Goals.”
13 September 2013 — Boston University… Showcasing a New Freshman Class
See how BU uses the power of 37 short video vignettes highlighting new freshmen for marketing advantage when you visit the “Meet the Class of 2017” page.
23 August 2013 — University of Nottingham… Capital Campaign Giving Options
See how one university enables donor control of giving with options for 5 areas in need of support when you visit “Impact: the Nottingham Campaign.”
9 August 2013 – Victoria University… Academic Programs from the Home Page
Here’s another strong example of priority placement (upper left corner) of links to find and review academic programs, a top task for future students. See “Find a Course” instantly when the page opens. (Not quite as “instantly” in 2021 but still prominent near the top of the home page just below a hero image.)
26 July 2013 – Vancouver Community College… 3 Key Stats Power a Home Page
Numbers just don’t get the respect they deserve as an important way to make key marketing points in the critical first 5 seconds when a page opens. VCC understands. Check the power of home page numbers. (Just one key stat left in 2021 but still an unusually clean and easy-to-scan home page.)
21 June 2013 – Muhlenberg College… Honesty in Financial Aid Packaging
Here is an honest description on how financial aid packages are put together at many if not most schools: the more the school wants you, the more grants and fewer loans. See “The Real Deal on Financial Aid.” (One of my all time favorite web pages… honesty in financial aid awards.)
10 May 2013 – University of Georgia… Interactive, Student-Friendly Academic Catalog
Sending students to an online academic catalog is often a cruel exercise, especially when the catalog is online as a PDF. UGeorgia takes a much different (and kinder!) approach with the “UGA Bulletin.” (Updated for 2021-22 and still great.)
8 March – Eastern Washington University… Comparing Your Costs with the Competition
If you have a cost advantage with your primary competitors, why not showcase that advantage on your website? See a rare example of that marketing step at the EWU “Tuition, Costs, and Fees” page.
2012… 8 sites
16 November 2012 — Cardinal Stritch University… Easy-to-Scan Top Library Topics
To experience the virtue of a clean and simple library home page highlighting 6 top topics in seconds, visit the Cardinal Stritch library page.
17 August 2012 — Elon University… Rankings for Academics, Affordability
Prominent display of rankings that include “student success” and “value” on the home page.
25 May 2012 — Stanford University… An “About” Page that Really Works
Most “About” pages are dreadful, boring places to visit. To see an “About” page that lets people scan key topics and quickly find something of special interest, visit “About Stanford.” (Not quite as strong in 2021 as the original version but still more interesting than most “About” pages.)
4 May 2012 — University of Buffalo School of Medicine… “Find a Person” Made Easy
Improve the ability of your website visitors to find a faculty person on your website when you adopt a system like the one at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Science.
13 April 2012 — University of Virginia… My Favorite Online University Magazine
OK, this is subjective for sure. My favorite online magazine uses video, email, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and more to spread the UVA message. Start at University of Virginia Magazine. (Can’t say this is still “my favorite” but for sure it is still a strong online magazine example.)
23 March 2012 — DePaul University… Clean, Simple Home Page Highlights Brand & Top Links
Yes, you can make a brand statement on the home page and also give visitors one-step access to key links. Check the links under “Academics” and “Admissions” when you visit the home page.
24 February 2012 — Marquette University… Pinterest Website
Scan 19 board topics to see how an early adopter is using Pinterest when you visit the Marquette University Pinterest site. (Didn’t count the topics but you can still visit to see how the site is working in 2021.)
17 February 2012 — Boston University… 25 Videos Give Life to Annual Report
To see how videos inform and entertain in telling the annual report story visit the Boston University Annual Report 2010..
2011… 6 sites
9 December 2011 — University of Glasgow… Top Task Highlight on Home Page
A research university puts top tasks for those who “Study” and those who “Research” in top of page position for immediate visibility. Way better than the usual hero image See the University of Glasgow home page.
7 October 2011 — The University of Queensland… Online Alumni Magazine
To view an online magazine in the spirit of “Writing Right for the Web” including translation option to 7 languages visit Contact Magazine. (Missing the translation feature but still worth a visit to review how it is presented online.)
23 September 2011 — Duke University… Highlighting Faculty Opinion
Create a web page to enhance the marketing power of faculty activities and opinions after you visit the “Duke Today” faculty page.
16 September 2011 — College of William & Mary… Social Media Mash-up Page
Expand the impact of social media communication after you visit the collection of “official” and “unofficial” sites at the “Social Stream” for “Social Media at the Moment.”
19 August 2011 — University of British Columbia… Mobile Home Page
View a mobile page with just 2 links for primary audiences (and download the app if you have an iPhone) at the link to iTunes on the UBC website. (Different now but visit for a rare example of a university mobile app that’s still being used.)
13 May 2011 — University of Toronto… 16 Alumni Portrait Videos
One reader called this the best collection of alumni videos anywhere on the web. Watch your favorites when you visit University of Toronto’s high impact alumni page
22 April 2011 — University of Iowa… Power of a First Sentence
Don’t hide a great first sentence on a web page in front of several others in the same paragraph. University of Iowa’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences does it right with a “ReStart” first sentence.
2010… 2 sites
10 Dec 2010 — Harvard Business School… 19 Faculty Blogs, 1 Web Page
The Harvard Business School proudly presents faculty on social media on a single easy-to-scan website page. Check a high visibility approach to increasing the marketing power of your faculty at www.hbs.edu/about/connect/.
24 Sept 2010 — University of Oslo… Design for 8 Top Tasks for Student Life
Design for easy task completion and more people will like your website. This student life page highlights 8 top tasks and puts the rest on another page. Easily passes the 5-second scan test.
2009… 9 sites
6 Nov 2009 — Carleton College… Online Annual Giving Report
< Video introduces and expands the impact of this online publication. Experience the result when you visit this fine example from Carleton College.
25 Sept 2009 — Manchester Metropolitan University… Home Page Course Finder
Many future students want to know one thing above all about your school: what programs do you offer? See how easy that can be at www.mmu.ac.uk/
10 July 2009 — University of Maryland… Terp Magazine Online
An online magazine that doesn’t force readers to “flip” pages and zoom back and forth to access content. Read the stories at www.terp.umd.edu/
12 June 2009 — University of Michigan… Financial Fundamentals
A 9-slide presentation tells the tale of key income sources and how revenue is allocated to major areas of the University. Good start for a budget debate. Visit at vpcomm.umich.edu/budget/fundingsnapshot/
15 May 2009 — Wesleyan University… Engage Users in Web Design
Involve your campus community right from the start of a new website design project. Wesleyan solicits comments on 3 home page designs. See how it works. And can work for you.
8 May 2009 — University of Missouri… Best Registrar’s Site
Visited 43 registrar’s website entry pages in search of one that put students first, right from the first 5-second impression. The Registrar’s Office at Mizzou stands above the rest. Service marketing is alive and well here.
13 March 2009 — Walden University… Word of Mouth Marketing
Make it easy for your current students to invite friends and colleagues to join them at your school. Check’s Walden’s website referral page.
20 February 2009 — DeVry University… Best Marketing-Oriented Home Page
Engage in 5 seconds or less with academic programs and continue with live chat, video testimonials and more. Visit great marketing at www.devry.edu/ (Updated, still strong via top task marketing.)
13 February 2009 — Calvin College… Press Releases + Video for Online Impact
And the text presentation is perfect for 5-second engagement. See how to do press releases online atwww.calvin.edu/news/
2008… 9 sites
7 November 2008 — University of Chicago Law… Story Telling on Twitter
Students and faculty tell tales of the law school experience at “Tweet Chicago.” Follow the Twitter stories at webcast-law.uchicago.edu/tweetchicago/
3 October 2008 — University of Virginia… 26 Video Law School Stories
YouTube is the vehicle the Law School uses to expand online communications and present video stories about academics, alumni support, facilities and more. Visit the site at http://www.youtube.com/UVALawSchool
12 September 2008 — University of Alberta… International student recruiting
Seriously recruiting international students with an in-depth website that includes scholarship countries and online registration before arriving at the university. Visit www.international.ualberta.ca
15 August 2008 — Capella University… Taking the mystery from online learning
Capella offers 5 different options to remove the mystery about online learning, from FAQs to videos to a fee one-week seminar and more. Visit this page and check the options for yourself.
9 May 2008 — Penn State University Online MBA… The perfect academic page?
The perfect academic program page? Just about. Great use of keywords, easy-to-scan and read text, clear links, smart video content, and more. See it all at www.worldcampus.psu.edu/iMBA.shtml
11 April 2008 — University of Richmond
An online “Undergraduate Catalog” makes it easy for future students to find the majors and courses that interest them. A special feature makes it easy to send suggestions about how to make the catalog work even better than it does now. undergraduatecatalog.richmond.edu/
21 March 2008 — University of St. Thomas
A “web encoure” for an online magazine creates higher impact with extra audio and video features for the Web 2.0 environment. www.stthomas.edu/magazine/2008/Winter/Broszko.html
7 March 2008 — The University of Southern Mississippi
Student videos on TV and the Web integrate brand building and increase enrollment applications.
15 February 2008 — University of Missouri
Video animates a print story about Missouri’s poet laureate as Walter Bargen reads the poetry someone else is writing about and Web 2.0 shows real value. mizzouwire.missouri.edu/stories/2008/poetry-wings/
2007… 7 sites
19 October 2007 — Bradley University
Financial aid estimator breaks the sticker price barrier to deliver net cost information for freshman and estimates of net costs for the next three years. admissions.bradley.edu/ssl/estimator/?status=viewtab1
13 July 2007 — Smith College
Easy to scan key branding statement tells admissions visitors “Why is Smith a Women’s College” to differentiate the college in just a few seconds. www.smith.edu/about-smith/why-a-womens-college
1 June 2007 — University of Toronto Rotman School of Management
Watch an engaging YouTube promotional video featuring students, alumni, and faculty at www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSdtyaDW1W0&mode=related&search
11 May 2007 — The University Western Ontario
106 faculty, student, staff, and alumni blogs presented on a single high impact page at communications.uwo.ca/weblogs/directory.htm#alumni
4 May 2007 — University of Chicago
Putting an alumni magazine online so that people will read it can’t be done in PDF format. For a best practice example of how to create online content, visit magazine.uchicago.edu
30 March 2007 — MIT
Blogs from students and staff dominate the first admissions page as Web 2.0 continues to change the future face of college and university websites.
9 February 2007 — The College of New Jersey
Try an online tuition cost estimate, the website feature that’s second in demand by college bound high school students. www.tcnj.edu/~admiss/costs.html