Browsing the new undergraduate prospectus for 2008, it’s interesting comparing the content to that within the ‘Prospective Students’ area of the corporate website. A few years ago, the two were almost identical in terms of structure and text, but the content appearing online today is independent, written specifically for the web rather than merely ‘borrowed’ from elsewhere.
The most obvious difference between the Edge Hill site ‘now’ and ‘then’ is the amount of text – Jakob Nielsen’s research on writing for the web reveals how few people read word-for-word on the web – but presenting information to prospective students online isn’t just about reducing the word count from conventional writing.
Bulleted lists (describing the application process, for example), tables (displaying fee information) and strong visuals (department tours) help present information in an attractive, user-friendly format but the interactivity of the website is probably where the greatest change has taken place. Podcasts, streaming videos, virtual tours, forums and blogs are now all integral parts of Edge Hill’s online communication and allow current and prospective students to interact in a way which has previously not been possible.
Thankfully the days of getting 30 pages of text in my inbox to ‘go on the website’ seem to have gone!