Did you know there are almost 500,000 visits to mq.edu.au every week? For many – especially prospective students – our homepage is their first impression of Macquarie and the experience they encounter there can make (or break) our relationship with them.
Working out of the University’s digital ‘war room’, Group Marketing’s Digital Team and the Macquarie IT team have been hard at work overhauling the homepage, making it much easier for users to find what they’re looking for and strengthening Macquarie’s reputation as an innovative university.
Many people don’t realise the incredible amount of work that goes into a homepage re-design, as Digital Director Andrew Jayatilake explains.
“It’s much more than just giving it a new lick of paint,” Andrew says. “It involves months of site analysis, forensically looking at thousands of users journeys, over half a million data points and a staggering amount of user testing – every change we are making to the site is backed up by what our audiences are telling us.”
The site went through five key stages of testing, with designs being constantly refined throughout. Prospective students, current students, staff, parents, alumni and other audiences were among almost 500+ participants who gave feedback on designs via interviews and workshops as well as tests such as heat mapping (which measures click activity on a webpage), first click testing (where users are asked to perform a specific task on a web page) and five second testing (where users share their impressions after seeing a design for only five seconds).
One of the main goals for the new homepage was to simplify the steps that prospective students needed to take to find course information.
“There were 1.7 million visits to our course pages in the last year, and prospective students and their parents make up roughly 30 per cent of our site visitors,” Andrew points out. “Before it could take a student nine clicks to get to the course information they were after – in the new site, they can get to it as quickly as a single click from the homepage.
“We’ve also added information for other key audiences including potential research and industry partners, and of course our current students and staff will still have the information they need as well.”
With current school leavers being ‘digital natives’, and having high expectations when it comes to their digital interactions, it was important for the team that our new homepage showed off Macquarie’s ‘digital savvy’.
“There’s not much point marketing yourself as an innovative university – a university that developed the first WiFi technology and uses cutting-edge technologies in teaching – if your website doesn’t reflect that,” Andrew says.
“We’ve used modern design styling, an intuitive UI [user interface] and content choices that emphasise our position as one of the most modern universities in Australia.”
The new homepage will launch in mid-December just before HSC students receive their ATAR results and start hitting university websites to explore their study options. The new homepage is being supplemented with personalised web pages for school leavers that have preferenced Macquarie, making it easier for students to get the information that is relevant to them in making their choice about where to study.
“We’re really excited about what we’ve created and we’re confident our new digital resources are going to make a big difference for our audiences,” says Andrew. “It’s only just the very start of what we want to achieve for our digital presence and our audiences.”