UCAS figures have revealed that British university applications are down by 7.7 per cent year-on-year, and experience design agency Nomensa places some of the blame on university websites failing to treat prospective students as online consumers. Nomensa argues that universities should "take a more intuitive online approach online or lose valuable applicants".
The warning follows Nomensa's whitepaper 'Enhancing the university submission experience' which, according to a press release, "is based on a review of current university websites and market intelligence, and a rigorous user-centred design process across 88 students to test redesigned prototype screen blueprints against both existing university websites and the UCAS site".
The results found issues relating to missing information and support failings. "Since the increase in tuition fees, choosing a university has become the second-biggest purchasing decision most people will make after buying a house. In response, universities should be providing an optimum online experience for those browsing their institutions and courses," explained Nomensa CEO Simon Norris. "Our research has found that despite the gravitas of the decision, universities are sadly lacking in their provision of online support to students at key points in their decision making, which would help them to find the right course and location, and effectively market the institutions."
Norris said universities could learn from the likes of Amazon, and should offer attractive, clear, usable sites with concise information, thereby enabling them to make well-informed decisions. By utilising techniques used by online retailers to reduce confusion and improve the process, "they would undoubtedly boost student numbers and funding".