This is a small list of relatively easy things college and university web teams can do to improve the usability of .edu websites. This isn’t a comprehensive usability checklist, and I’ve deliberately stayed away from more complex usability issues, like addressing page weight or responsive design. It is meant to be a set of beneficial activities that can be accomplished with very limited time and resources.
Links that should be impossible to miss on every page that has admissions content:
All five of these destinations can have an impact on a real-world action that a prospective student or parent will take to enroll. While it’s nice for a visitor to spend more time on the website, the above actions are ultimately what you want them to do.
Pages that should be reachable within three or fewer actions (clicks or taps) from the homepage:
You may be looking at this and thinking an intuitive sequence is more more important than the number of actions. The reality is that you need a highly usable process to be both intuitive AND allow a user to reach information in as few actions as possible.
Tips for the top 50 highest-traffic pages in the site:
User testing tasks (that can be assigned to groups of five or more users):
Watching even a few representative users can help you evaluate how easy the tasks are to complete – and where errors occur.
Ideas for improving this list? Post them in comments or email me. If I use them, I’ll credit you in the post.