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2014 Q1 Universities website benchmark: some big improvements in performance

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2014-02-13 13:56:46 - The rising cost of higher education plus extra competition between universities and colleges means that websites in the sector now have to work even harder to help attract the best candidates.

With four out of ten would-be university students choosing their chosen seat of learning by looking at university websites, recent research by the Daily Telegraph showed that some universities spend well over a quarter of a million pounds each year on maintaining their sites.

So it’s good news that the Sitemorse quarterly assessment of universities and higher education
websites once again shows improvement, with a number of establishments moving significantly up the table covering nearly 340 university and college sites, together with two agricultural colleges in the top five.

The Sitemorse Q1 2014 Universities website benchmark is an important indicator of those establishments that are currently leading the field with the best-working websites within the higher education sector.

Colleges from England, Scotland and Northern

Ireland hold the top five places in this Index, with highest marks awarded to Warwickshire College and runner-up Bishop Grosseteste University College, Lincoln. Rising five places to overall third is Scotland’s Rural College, which operates out of a number of campus locations including Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Ayr.

Making up the remainder of the top five best performers are the websites of Henley College, Coventry and Northern Irelands’s College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE)

Warwickshire College is one of the largest general further and higher education colleges in the UK, providing high quality education and training for more than 18,000 students each year. The college has six centres in Leamington, Warwick, Rugby, Moreton Morrell, Henley-in-Arden and Pershore in Worcestershire. The college’s website has maintained top place since our last Index in October 2013, with a total score of 7.8 out of a possible 10 marks for criteria including code quality, accessibility, function and performance.

Lincoln’s Bishop Grosseteste University College, named after a former Bishop of Lincoln who died in 1253, was formally granted university status a year ago. A consistent performer in the testing, their website scored 7.6 out of 10.

Henley College Coventry provides education, training and apprenticeships for approximately 5,000 part-time and 1,600 full-time students, with vocational courses in a wide range of areas including engineering, hospitality and catering, health and social care, hair and beauty, computing and sport. The website scored 6.6 out of a possible ten. The Northern Ireland- based College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (Cafre) has three campuses based at Enniskillen, Antrim (Greenmount Campus) and Cookstown, and also scored 6.6/10 in the Index.

The list of most improved websites this time has seen the following institutions hurtling up the Sitemorse ratings: Oxford University (up 186 places to 102 overall), Gloucestershire College ( rising 213 places to 121 overall), University College Birmingham (up 227 places to 15th position), Swindon College (+230 to 107 overall) and top riser Buckinghamshire New University (+247 to 86th overall). Full index data can be seen on our website,

De Montfort University of Leicester maintains the highest score for accessibility (8/10), with good scores also in this area for East Riding College, Exeter College, The University of Hertfordshire, Duchy College, and the Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education.
About the Index
The scores for the University Index table are created by Sitemorse ( using its automated software that reads and reviews the first 125 pages of each site and places them in a ranked table based on User Experience (UX), Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) and Search Capability (SEO).

The quarterly Index Website Review, powered by the Sitemorse software platform, is an important independent benchmark that clearly shows how websites are performing, meeting compliance levels and satisfying their users. It’s also a key indicator for website managers who, while always wanting to be at the top of their game, could be hampered by poor-performing suppliers, non-compliant legacy content or content management systems that often fail to spot errors affecting user experience.
Sitemorse services such as Governisation and the Web Management Toolkit immediately find the issues that affect web users the most on any website, help demonstrate real improvement and ensure you have control and confidence in your web presence.

They will help you minimise unnecessary risk, issues covering everything from compliance with web standards to helping you deal with malware, protect your brand across even a large web presence, and enhance search engine optimisation to help more potential customers find you. They can help spotlight content that may need updating, issues with staff training and support, and focus supplier management. We offer a confidential internal 'company wide' website testing and benchmarking service - allowing you to review the position of all the sites in your organisation. Contact us to request further details and / or an example.

Contact Information:
Sitemorse Limited

100 Pall Mall

Contact Person:
Geoff Paddock
Head of Communications
Phone: +44 207 183 5588
email: email


Geoff Paddock
Phone: 441525375057

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