At least 94% of first impressions from users relate to web design. If you have a poorly designed website, you can lose out massively on reaching prospective students.
If you were a student checking out a prospective college or university, you wouldn’t want to see a site that’s outdated, slow, or poorly designed. Good web design is crucial for keeping prospective students on your site to learn about your college.
So, how do you create a beautifully designed site? Check out these nine best college websites for inspiration!
At WebFX, we’ve been driving sales for clients through good web design for over 20 years. If you need help tuning up your college website, give us a call at 888-601-5359 or contact us online to speak with a strategist today!
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Top 9 college websites
So, what makes a college website well-designed? One of the easiest ways to answer that question is to look at some examples. Here are nine of the best college websites out there right now, and what makes them great.
1. University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame is widely known for having a beautiful campus and the same reputation carries on to its website. When you visit Notre Dame’s homepage, one of the first things you may notice is that it’s not cluttered. There’s minimal text, and everything is clearly organized.
This same format holds for every other page on the site. And on top of that, everything just looks nice. From the color scheme to the photo quality, everything looks trim and clean, drawing users in to learn more about the university.
2. Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
Given that RISD is a school of design, it makes sense that the design of its website is stellar. RISD made the decision to rely heavily on images, particularly on its homepage. Much of what its students do centers around visual design, so using a lot of images allows the college to showcase that.
One of the best features of this website, though, is its navigation. The different sections of the website are clearly laid out in tabs at the top of the page, and once you go to any of those sections, a separate bar on the left side of the page displays all the pages within that section.
Furthermore, the URL for each page is incredibly short and succinct to tell you exactly where you are.
3. George Washington University
The second you arrive on the homepage for George Washington University, your eyes are drawn to the full-page video that begins to play once you arrive. The video is extremely high-quality and gives you a well-rounded look at the workings of the university within seconds.
Despite how large the video is on the screen, the page loads extremely quickly.
The rest of the site lives up to the video’s expectation with expertly crafted images and a great use of white space. It manages to combine a sleek, professional, and modern design with all the tradition and history that comes with its name.
4. Bates College
Another one of the best college websites is Bates College. This site is interesting because it doesn’t have a standard set of tabs at the top of the page.
To keep from overwhelming users with all the sections of the website, the tabs are tucked away into a hamburger menu. When you click on the menu, it displays an organized table of contents for the site.
But the most engaging feature of the website, displayed at both the top and bottom of the page, is the virtual tour. When you start the virtual tour, you’re directed to a pop-up page that shows you an interactive view of Bates’ physical campus, like street view on Google Maps.
As you move around campus, a narrator talks about the history and features of the college.
Like the video on George Washington University’s site, this is a great way to draw visitors in and get them to learn about your university!
5. Brown University
Brown University continues the trend of eye-catching content by using a lot of visuals on its homepage. As you scroll down the page and your cursor moves over these images, several of them change in response to your interaction with them.
The best example of this is a set of vertical videos featuring students giving advice to upcoming freshmen, which begin playing when you hover over them.
The website also follows the example of George Washington University with a great use of white space on each of its pages. Particularly on text-heavy pages, the overall look of the website is clean and professional.
6. Oberlin College
One of the defining features of Oberlin College’s website is how prominently it features images of campus.
From outdoor shots of Japanese gardens to photos of students studying on colorful couches indoors, the pictures draw you in and make you feel almost as though you’re on campus.
On the “Campus Visits for Prospective Students” page, you can even find a video that gives you a tour of campus. While Bates College opted for an interactive experience, Oberlin lets you sit back and watch sweeping drone shots of the campus.
The visuals are accompanied by a sprightly classical music soundtrack (performed by the Oberlin Orchestra, of course) that somehow manages to at once evoke both fun activity and scholarly tradition.
7. Regent College
Once you click on one of those tabs, it remains its original color, but the others are greyed out. This design ensures that you can always see where you are on the site.
8. Goshen College
Like Notre Dame, Goshen College goes back to the basics by keeping everything clean and simple, making it one of the best-looking college websites out there.
Every page follows a similar design, keeping little on the screen at once so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Large images and short pieces of text make everything feel clean and easy to read.
Goshen also features an interactive virtual campus tour like Bates College does, adding another feature to draw visitors to their website.
9. Biola University
Last on our list of the best college websites is Biola University.
It’s hard to pin down a specific word that describes the look of Biola’s website, but something about it just screams “professional graphic design.” From the design of the phrase “All as one” at the top of the homepage to the careful arrangement of squares and rectangles across the entire site, it looks clean and professional.
Like Notre Dame and Goshen, Biola wisely keeps from displaying too much information at once, so there aren’t different items competing for your attention. The design is simple and beautifully composed.
Good navigation and organization are key, but you should never underestimate the power of basic aesthetic appeal for users.
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Get help with your web design from WebFX today
Looking to add your site to the list of the best-looking college websites? All it takes is the application of a few basic web design principles. But if you’re not sure of your ability to make those work to your advantage, don’t worry — WebFX has your back.
With over 500 client testimonials, WebFX is one of the best web design agencies in the business. We’ll help you optimize your web design for the best possible user experience. To get started with us, just give us a call at 888-601-5359 or contact us online today!
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