Last week we launched a new digital experience for Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. The new website, msb.georgetown.edu, gives alumni, global executives, prospective students, master’s candidates, faculty and staff a world-class digital experience. It is specifically designed to show how the McDonough School of Business helps its students succeed in their goals and the institution move up in the highly competitive business school rankings.
Site launches are always an exciting time for the Bluetext team, and McDonough was no different. It’s opening night, the curtain is raised, and the target audience will determine if the strategy, creativity, discipline and hard work have paid off. Shortly after the site launch, we gathered the team to review the project, discuss lessons learned, and identify ways to apply those to current and future projects.
The session was also an opportunity to further refine our core approach to innovative digital experiences to Higher Education as a market. Here are some of the key take-ways:
- Build a strong and sophisticated brand connection. Clean, bold, and straightforward design lets the institution’s brand speak for itself. The design, imagery, headlines and copy should convey confidence. Videos, infographics and interactive functionality can showcase the value proposition and the work of faculty and students.
- Address Return-On-Investment up-front. Students are savvier than ever. They want to understand the value proposition and why the degree at any particular institution is worth the cost. Address the question up-front in a way that students understand, speaking to their concerns and goals.
- Show the “bigger picture.” How will the education experience help students make an impact or shape their world in a positive way? Talk about how their education correlates to what’s relevant today. Depending on the discipline, it could be entrepreneurism, clean energy research, transforming the public education system, or even global citizenship.
- Engagement is essential, just like in the real world. It’s about social engagement and community. Smart use of social tools will put a face on the educational product, faculty and institution.
- Simplify. Put phone numbers and contact information at their fingertips. Clearly describe the admissions process and what they need to know to get started.
- Deliver a coherent digital experience across all touchpoints. Digital audiences are more connected, more empowered, and more distracted than ever before. They are constantly interacting with one or more devices that place data from websites, apps, and social media at their fingertips. Responsive design can give a consistent brand experience across multiple devices. What’s also important, but often neglected, is making sure that content is structured in a way that makes it reusable across desktops, laptops, mobile devices, social media and digital campaigns.
These core principles provide a solid foundation for creating a successful digital experience that drives ROI for any institution. Today, the user experience is about how a broad range of audiences interact with the brand and product across multiple contexts. That requires thinking of the .edu presence as a digital platform, not simply a “website,” to drive enlistment, revenue, and engagement goals.