College and University websites must serve many functions. They must describe classes, campuses, extracurricular activities, and surrounding areas to attract new students while simultaneously providing content and systems for existing students that track classes, grades, housing, and meal plans. But that’s not all. College and University websites must also provide resources and features for alumni, administrative personnel, faculty, and parents — and then deliver comprehensive information about the school’s sports teams and programs.

So, how well do College and University websites serve all their masters?

We Studied Our Options

To find out, the siteIQ team decided to add the Higher Education industry to the 2020 Usability Index to identify and evaluate leading sites in this sector. As is usually the case, we researched top ranking institutions within the segment and then conducted preliminary evaluations of their websites to identify candidates for inclusion on the final list.

We Made a Short List

After reviewing the initial results, we decided that 29 sites across two segments would be added to the Usability Index Roster. This includes nineteen sites in the Universities segment and ten sites in the Online Universities sector. Specifically, these sites include:

We Put the Finalists to the Test

As of this writing, the evaluation team is conducting their inaugural review of these sites using the Higher Education version of the siteIQ Usability Benchmark, which includes 199 questions that measure website usability from the visitor’s point of view. A second review recategorizes these questions into 16 Usability Dimensions that illustrate how well each website is aligned to everyday user activities and expectations.

We’re Waiting for the Results

Given that they must accomplish so many tasks, we’re not quite sure just what to expect from Higher Education websites. Our suspicion, however, is that most tracked properties will only be able to do a few of these things well. Of course, we could be wrong, but our initial reviews of these sites indicate that we aren’t. Thus, it’s more likely than not that Higher Education sites will be modest performers overall.

Next Up

We’ll be publishing overall Higher Education results for the Universities and Online Universities sectors. …And, stay tuned for our Overall siteIQ Usability Index results…

About the siteIQ Usability Index

siteIQ evaluated the 29 Higher Education Websites listed on the 2020 siteIQ Usability Index. These Websites are categorized into two industry-specific segments including:

  • Universities (ASU.edu, Calstate.edu, FIU.edu, Liberty.edu, MSU.edu, NYU.edu, OSU.edu, PSU.edu, Rutgers.edu, Tamu.edu, Twin-Cities.umn.edu, UFL.edu, UH.edu, UIllinois.edu, UMD.edu, UMich.edu, USC.edu, UTSystem.edu, Washington.edu)
  • Online Universities (APUS.edu, Ashford.edu, Liberty.edu, Phoenix.edu, SNHU.edu, UFL.edu, UMassOnline.edu, UoPeople.edu, WaldenU.edu, WorldCampus.psu.edu)

These in-depth evaluations were conducted using the 2020 edition of the siteIQ Usability Index Best Practices Benchmark, which tracks results in 9 sub-categories and 16 Usability Dimensions.

The 2020 evaluations were performed during the third quarter of 2020.

Category: Index Rankings

Class: Website Reviews and Rankings

Websites Profiled: siteIQ Usability Index Websites – Education Industry

Related Research:

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