09 / 08 / 2016

University websites - It's time to get personal


Chris Hodgen




From the University of Manchester to London Business School, here at Absolute we’ve been doing a lot of work with universities recently.

Increasingly, we’re working with them to help personalise and update their websites, which is vital considering how many different audiences they need to speak to. From undergraduates to postgraduates, domestic to international students, investors to employees, the list of stakeholders is extensive, and each of these demographics require different information.

So how do we go about helping universities tailor their websites and marketing content?

1: Research

This is the first – and arguably most important – stage of the process. Through workshops, desk research, ideas generation sessions, user testing, questionnaires and competitor research we can build up a detailed picture of each demographic.

It’s a thorough process, and the more information we can gather, the better. For example, we recently worked with Queens’ University Belfast to redevelop its website. As part of this, we identified 17 different target audiences, questioned over 550 stakeholders and created several persona profiles. The research saw us carry out a week’s worth of workshops and produce an extensive 148 page document. This helped us identify the best tools and tactics to engage with the various audiences, while refreshing and aligning the brand, ethos and values of the university.

2: Streamline

A big challenge for universities is that their websites usually contain multiple levels of nested content and information. This can make the user journey clumsy and complicated. By using insights and research though, we can analyse and restructure the Information Architecture (ie the way we organise and label online content), improving the experience for the different users and helping them find what they’re looking for.

3: Tailor-made

Thanks to technology and data analysis, we can identify who visits a website – for example, by the location of their IP address and what they searched for – and use this information to tailor the website and user journey, bringing the most relevant information and calls to action to the forefront.

3: Branding

Updating websites is a great opportunity to review and revise brand guidelines and assets. All content – whether copy, images or video – needs to be consistent across all digital platforms and offline marketing collateral. In some instances, universities may have to reduce the amount of content they have, while in others they may need to produce updated assets – for example, photography. All content needs to be produced in line with the updated style guide, reflecting the university’s brand and ethos, while always having the end user in mind.

4: Updates

It’s important for that universities can easily update their websites. Marketing teams should check what platform their digital platforms are built on so they can easily manage and update the content. At Absolute, we’re able to integrate our own content management system – Absolute Control – to help marketing and IT teams update the content of their sites, without impacting on the look, feel and user journey.


From research and insight, to brand development and user journey, we can help you and your business redevelop your website to create a high quality, interactive digital platform which can serve the right content to the right user in the right way – each and every time. Get in touch to see how we can help you.