Education is big business — there are over 2,000 institutions in the US that offer 4-year degrees, and a host of others focus on professional certifications and shorter training. These schools all need customers… or students, whichever you’d like to call them.
And in that supersaturated marketplace, it’s tough to woo those customers. To say there’s fierce competition is an understatement — the willingness of a student to choose an out-of-state school has never been greater. Combine that with the average number of applications being more than double what it used to be and colleges have to work awfully hard to land matriculating kids who are considering many different options.
The easiest, cheapest way to showcase your school is with its website and online media operations. Through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the traditional domain, schools present their case by showing everything they can about an institution and matching that up to each student. They’re selling, and they want to create a 4-year, $100,000+ relationship with buyers.
Best Education Sites has put together a swarm of data that shows how colleges are doing it — some with more social media engagement than others, some in more technologically savvy ways. But it’s not a total free for all, as data shows that most higher ed sites share a great deal of design and utility elements.
– Colleges have taken to social media as well as any other sector — UC Berkeley has delivered YouTube content to over 5,000,000 viewers; Harvard has three-quarters of a million Facebook likes; Syracuse University has over 10,000 Tweets.
– Analysis shows that stale, classic greyscales dominate: 33% of higher ed sites are in grey with 20% in black. Yellow (16%) and blue (15%) are the next most popular. Aggressive colors — red and orange — weigh in at 3% and 4%, while purple (4%) and green (7%) don’t fare any better.
– It’s sans serif fonts across the board for higher ed — 94% of content is in a sans font. There’s something about clean, grey and chic that colleges adore.
– W3C compliance varies from institution to institution. Even the top tech schools have their share of W3C (design/code compliance) errors.
Head over to Best Education Sites and check out the embeddable infographic — you’ll see just how the big business of higher ed markets to future students and their families.