Earlier this year we renewed our set of country pages – pages designed for prospective students from all over the world. These pages help students learn more about the university and the city and cover topics such as entry requirements, fees and funding, information on international recruitment team visits and general information about living in Dundee.
We aimed to:
- Tailor our content to the country in question
- Make more use of images and videos
- Increase the amount of student-derived content on pages
- Update shared content and make it easier for users to find the information they were looking for
- Make better links between these pages and the bigger website
- Provide a clear call to action for users
We started with the top ten priority markets for international recruitment:
We currently have 104 pages from different countries, so you need to prioritize.
Previously, the vast majority of content on each page was identical, with obvious exceptions such as login requirements. However, we know that while the primary needs of users are the same (e.g. everyone wants easy-to-find pricing information), students from different parts of the world place different importance on different aspects of university life. For example, students from China are more interested in rankings and job opportunities, while for students from Malaysia, we have a bigger challenge in selling our location.
After consulting with the international recruitment team and student societies, we found that one area where tailoring our content to a specific country was really important was living in Dundee. While we wanted to highlight our strengths and any differences from the user’s country of origin, we also needed to reassure them that they wouldn’t be completely cut off from important aspects of their culture.
Some of this content included information about the availability of particular foods – halal grocery stores and African/Caribbean grocery stores, for example – and worship provision information for different faiths or local community groups that might be of interest.
Where they exist, we have also highlighted relevant student societies: the Singapore Society, the Indian Society, the Islamic Society and the Malaysian Society, among others. One of the strengths of the University is the excellent student experience we offer, and these companies are a key part of that.
Greater use of images and videos
As it is generally more difficult for prospective international students to attend an open day at the University, showcasing aspects of the city and campus and providing visual content is extremely important.
We integrated images from various Facebook albums – some of them our city and campus images, some images of company events – and included them in a grid on the page to create a striking visual impact and a way to separate textual content .
By clicking on a single image, users have the ability to interact with the photos by liking or commenting on them, and also to view the rest of the photos in larger albums. This has the added benefit of encouraging users to explore our wider Facebook offerings. Facebook is a channel that we know some international students are keen to interact with before asking more « formal » questions.
We’ve also added relevant video to pages where possible, making sure it won’t prevent pages from appearing in countries like China that censor certain content.
Testimonials from students and graduates
Student testimonials play a crucial role in selling the institution to prospective students, who are more likely to be convinced by content written by their peers than that produced by the University. Students, in giving us material to use, will also unconsciously tend to focus on issues that are important for those who come from their own countries.
We have significantly increased the amount of student-derived content on the pages, both in the form of written testimonials accompanied by a photo of the author, and video interviews where possible.
Additionally, with the assistance of Alumni Relations, we’ve included examples of graduate destinations. A student who is investing a significant amount of time and money in attending University would like to see that there is a chance of a good return on that investment.
Using software that captures a user’s journey through the website, we were impressed with how many people seemed to navigate straight to the login requirements. Heatmaps supported the claim that this was the most important information for most of our users.
It was therefore essential to make them as clear and easy to find as possible. Previously, the entry requirements were as follows:
We changed it so that the user could choose to see only the information that was important to him and the rest remained hidden and did not distract him from his task.
General information updated
Since our country pages hadn’t been updated for a long time, it was also time to update the content shared between pages.
It was important for us to consider that the country page was in some cases the first page a user came to on our site, and therefore had to provide enough information about the different topics a potential student was interested in (much of our traffic comes directly from google).
Our degrees, for example, are structured differently than those offered elsewhere in the world, and we found this to be one of the most widely read sections of the page. This was therefore a great opportunity to highlight the benefits of studying under the Scottish system.
We also learned quite a bit ourselves in the process of updating this information: Did you know that in the US you can’t go directly to a medical or law degree like you can here, but you have to take pre-med or pre-law first?
Links to and from the rest of the website
We have aimed to improve links to and from the rest of our website. As mentioned, the country page may be a user’s first engagement with us and it is important for this page to act as a landing page to direct them to other relevant areas of the main University website. Links to our student life pages, for example, have been made more prominent.
We also know that there are particular courses that attract students from specific countries and have listed them on the country page to increase traffic to these course pages:
Similarly, we have included a link in the course page testimonials to link to the relevant country page:
Measure the impact of our work
There are several tools we can use to see if our changes have taken effect. Using Google Analytics, we can look at a number of metrics.
Focusing on the Malaysia page, we can see that the traffic to the page has increased by 61.5% compared to a year ago. Sounds impressive, but it’s actually not the best way to measure the page’s success as in this case it was likely caused by a more aggressive marketing campaign within the country itself.
For our purposes, the length of time spent on the page appears to be a more useful measure of page performance. For Malaysia, time spent on page increased by a whopping 54.5% – users spend nearly an extra minute reading the content. This is very promising as it suggests that they are interacting with the enhanced content.
It’s a similar story with pages in other countries:
- Saudi Arabia: Time spent on page increased by 22%
- Nigeria: time on page increased by 55%
- USA – time on page increased by 17%
- Pakistan – time on page increased by 40%
- Hong Kong – time on page increased by 37%
- India: time on page increased by 30%
The tracking software, which shows which part of the page has been clicked on and scrolled through, shows that around 50% of users are now scrolling to read the newest information about life in Dundee, which is really a good result.
Since the new pages have only been online for a relatively short time, it’s harder to tell whether the increase in links between the course and country pages is paying off since we only have a limited data set to analyze. Initial results look promising, particularly from the country pages to the courses pages: there were 39% more visits to the postgraduate pages than the country pages and 52% more visits to the undergraduate pages .
Since we updated these « top ten » countries, we have continued to work on content for countries relevant to international recruiting. For other, less critical markets, we’ve made basic changes (making the entry requirements more readable, for example).
One of the weaker areas of the pages is the scholarship section. In the future, we would like to be able to showcase the most relevant opportunities on the country page itself, rather than directing prospective students elsewhere. We know this is of paramount importance to international students and will hopefully be part of a larger project.
We would also like to include even more examples of graduate destinations in the employment section of the page as recent studies have confirmed this is of great interest to prospective students from our key markets.
As always, if you have any comments on the work we’ve done and still need to do, please let us know by leaving a comment below.