2013-10-16 17:18:46 - Gone are the days when would-be university and college students relied on the “milk round” as the sole way of finding their higher education needs. Now, with the aid of web technology, virtually every university and college uses their websites as an effective marketing tool to entice students to their institution.
With a university or college website, students can easily scope out what the institution has to offer and compare it with others. But to do a successful job the site needs to perform well, be fully functional, have nothing broken or missing on each page, meet legal requirements such as accessibility, and make sure users get a great experience so they want to come back, as well as ensuring Google and other search engines can easily add it to their indexes.
The Sitemorse 2013 Q4 Universities website benchmark is an important indicator of those establishments that are currently leading the field with the best-working websites in the higher education sector.
Colleges from Central England hold the three top places in this Index,
with top marks awarded to Warwickshire College and runners-up Henley College, Coventry and Lincoln’s Bishop Grosseteste College. We tested 342 colleges overall.
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 risen a dramatic 235 places since our Q3 Index in July, with a total score of 8.6 out of a possible ten marks for criteria including code quality, accessibility, function and performance.
Henley College Coventry provides education, training and apprenticeships for approximately 5000 part-time and 1600 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 college has a new website and we scored it at 8.1 of a possible ten – an excellent start for a brand-new site.
Lincoln’s Bishop Grosseteste College, named after a former Bishop of Lincoln who died in 1253, was formally granted university status in January. The Uni has always done well in our testing and we scored their website at 7.6/10 this time.
Last quarter’s best performer, Leicester’s De Montfort University, dropped five places this time to 6th and has been overtaken by London’s Heythrop College of Theology and Philosophy and the Northern Ireland- based College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (Cafre) which has three campuses based at Enniskillen, Antrim (Greenmount Campus) and Cookstown.
Northumberland College, Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), South Cheshire College, and York's Askham Bryan College make up the remaining top ten website performers. Full index data can be seen on our website, www.sitemorse.com.
Most improved websites this time have seen the following institutions hurtling up the Sitemorse ratings:
Hull York Medical School is up 131places to 137th overall, University of Portsmouth (+140 to 24th place), Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education (+170 to 18th place), New College Durham (+192 to 64th overall) and Greenwich-based Ravensbourne (+245 to 34th place).
De Montfort scored highest for accessibility (8/10), with good scores also in this area for East Riding College, Royal Veterinary College (University of London), Stratford upon Avon College, Exeter College, and The University of Birmingham.
About the Index
The scores for the University Index table are created by Sitemorse (www.sitemorse.com) 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.
• More information about our surveys and what they test can be found on our website www.sitemorse.com/survey/
• For further Information: Geoff Paddock, Head of Communications on +44 207 183 5588 gpaddock@Sitemorse.com