University Websites

This report presents design recommendations for creating a better user experience on higher-education websites. Armed with these essentials, designers can have a high impact on the overall web usability and ultimately create a more satisfying and productive experience for visitors.

Find out what students want from higher-education websites and how people decide to keep exploring or to give up. Based on research observing real students visiting real sites, we identify users’ top questions and show examples of sites that answered those questions well—and those that could improve.

This170-pagereport offers78 design guidelinesbased on our usability research. Discussions and177 screenshot examplesfrom109 university websitessupport our findings and recommendations.

Related article: University Websites: Top 10 Design Guidelines


  • Characteristics of university audiences
  • Introducing the university to new visitors
  • Providing utilitarian information: Campus Maps, News, Directory
  • Appealing to prospective students
  • Admissions and tuition information
  • Academic and research programs
  • University life and student services
  • Alumni and donors
  • Topic-based and audience-based navigation structures
  • Wayfinding: helping visitors move through the website
  • Methodology section that shows how you can conduct your own usability studies on university websites


  • Checklist of 78 specific design recommendations
  • Learn the top questions that students and visitors have and how to feature that information on the site
  • See examples of compelling content that appeals to prospective students
  • Recommendations for designing navigation that helps visitors find information they need and move seamlessly between sections and subsites

Who Should Read This Report?

  • Those responsible for a college or university’s website user experience
  • UX researchers

Research Method

The information in this report is based on usability research with users 16–59 years old. We used two different research methods:

  • One-on-one usability testing: moderated in-person testing and unmoderated remote testing
  • Design reviews

代表用户,比如高中学生, transfer students, master’s degree applicants, and parents of students tested a variety of websites. The studies took place with users in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Taiwan. We evaluated pages from universities in19 countries. The report includes examples from109 universitiesaround the world.


Versions of this content were also previously featured in a day-long talk at the UX Conference.