Web development for grad recruitment

Best practices for graduate recruitment on the web

Set a clear priority for your site.
Demonstrate that priority by placing it first on any list and repeating it often throughout your site. (Apply Now. Apply Now. Apply Now!)

Make your page easier to scan.
Decrease your word count by half, use relevant headings and bulleted lists. Let prospective students click for full text if they are interested in reading more - don't bog them down.

Leverage the "F" scanning pattern.
Place your most important and interactive content in the center area just below your banner.

Prioritize your content to maximize the window.
75% of people don't scroll down to see what is below the first screen, so prioritize your content to have the most important information viewable. The UNL template allows for precious little content "above the fold" so you need to provide a compelling reason for a visitor to scroll down.

Avoid "marketese" language.
Everyone has world-class faculty and cutting edge facilities. What makes your program unique? Why should a prospective student choose you over your competitors? Try to articulate that to prospective students in a genuine way.

Eliminate clicks.
The average surfing session consists of 35 page views lasting an average of 27 seconds each (although I suspect the average time shrinks every year). Treat your site as if it is the 33rd page they've visited and you only have 2 pages to recruit them!

Anticipate questions and make the answers easy to find.
When is your application deadline? Do you require the GRE? What funding is available?

Use the UNL Template.
We have compelling reasons.

References:
  • Presentations by Professors Barney McCoy and Jerry Renaud to the UNL Campus Communicators Group, Fall 2006
  • Presentation by Seth Meranda and Michelle Howell Smith to department staff, Fall 2006
  • Mike's Eight Web Design Principles by Mike Mathieu, published in NAGAP Perspectives, Winter 2005

Web Development Resources

Content Management System (CMS)

The UNL CMS makes it possible for people to make basic updates to their web content without being full-fledged, HTML-savvy web developers.

UNL Web Developers Network

  • WDN Content Styling Resources
    Ready-made styles and features make it easier to develop a site that looks good, looks consistent with other UNL sites, and passes validation.
  • WDN Monthly Meetings
    Once you're registered as a site administrator you'll receive meeting announcements.
  • WDN Site Registry
    Make sure your site is in the registry so it can be tested for code validity, accessibility, and more.
  • Web Audit
    The new and improved site scanner.

Related Resources from University Communications

  • UNL Style Guide
    UNL standards for what to capitalize, when to spell out addresses or abbreviations, and much more.
  • UNL Design Toolbox
    Geared toward print publications, branding and guidelines for use of logos may be useful for the web also.