Crafting Content for the New Wilkes.edu

One of the most exciting parts of a website redesign, besides a revamped user experience, is the opportunity to create or upgrade content.

Content is king for university websites. Across multiple research studies from higher education leaders like EAB and Ruffalo Noel Levitz, it’s been found that prospective students want up-to-date, accurate, and complete information when browsing university websites. In fact, it’s their main priority.

Not to mention, the impact of telling a brand’s story effectively through content is absolutely essential. 

At Wilkes, we’ve prioritized our content experience as one of the key components of our redesign roadmap. Here are some ways we’re ensuring that the new Wilkes.edu offers great content that effectively tells our story while offering value to prospective students and their families. 

Mapping the Journey

User journey mapping is a great tool to not only understand your website content and its structure, but to also build empathy with your audience. McKinsey found that marketers who were best at understanding their audiences were most successful in customer acquisition, retention, satisfaction, and loyalty. 

To create our user maps, we partnered with mStoner to conduct interviews with a number of students to learn more about what their journey was like discovering, applying to, and ultimately, choosing Wilkes. These in-depth interviews were revealing for identifying key touch points Wilkes has with prospective students as they research, evaluate, and choose a university.

The outcome? A deep-dive into the thoughts, feelings, actions, and trusted sources of information students used in each of the stages in their decision-making process. With these insights, we were able to identify communication opportunities and content priorities that could be incorporated into our redesign process. 

Understanding Intent 

Last summer, we also began a research project that could support our digital marketing efforts while also helping us in our content strategy for the website redesign. We took on researching the most commonly searched for phrases (i.e. keywords) associated with each undergraduate academic program. Research for our graduate programs is currently in the works. 

We also analyzed searcher behavior and search trends to identify not only what people were searching for, but what they were looking to find when they clicked on results. Searcher intent questions are questions that reveal the intention of the searcher and what they wish to find. These details give you context about searchers and what’s most important to them as they explore information across the web. 

By understanding the words and phrases searchers were using to learn more about our academic programs and common themes around intent, we were able to identify opportunities in our own website content where we could incorporate valuable information and answer questions in a clear and concise way. In addition, these language insights can be applied to print materials, digital ads, emails, and even conversations with prospective students in person. 

Looking at the Data

One of the greatest benefits of having analytics about your website is the ability to use that data to look at past user behaviors and identify opportunities to improve your website’s ability to be used or navigated. 

Our team and the mStoner team have looked at our Google Analytics data together to determine: 

  • What pages are most heavily trafficked? 
  • What things are most commonly searched for on Wilkes.edu? 
  • What level of interactions do pages get once traffic arrives there? 

These are just a sampling of the data points, but the goal for us was to look at what works well on Wilkes.edu now and what could be improved to offer a better user experience. This informed our approach to creating our new website navigation, reworking page layouts and how information is displayed, and ultimately, our website copy. 

Bringing these things together –  journey maps, user behavior and search data, and existing analytics – gives us a solid strategy for making each and every web page work more efficiently and effectively to tell our brand story and deliver a great experience for our website visitors. 

Questions or comments regarding the redesign may be directed to:

Brittany Terpstra
Associate Director of Web Services
brittany.terpstra@wilkes.edu

Kim Bower-Spence
Executive Director of Marketing
kimberly.bowerspence@wilkes.edu