Best Design Practices for Higher Education Websites

April 13, 2023

Best Design Practices for Higher Education Websites

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Best Design Practices for Higher Education Websites

In today’s digital age, websites have become the face of higher education institutions for many prospective and current students, faculty, and alumni. It’s essential for universities and colleges to have a website that is not only functional, but also visually appealing. Good higher ed website design is crucial for many reasons, including creating a positive user experience, building a solid brand identity, and improving conversion rates. A well-designed website will also bring your brand’s mission, values, and messaging to life for its users.

What are some best practices to follow when designing or redesigning a higher-ed website? For starters, focusing on a few core foundations, such as user-centered design, storytelling, web accessibility, and mobile responsiveness, will all contribute to a more engaging user experience. 

User-Centered Design

As the digital landscape continues to grow, user experience (UX) has become a vital aspect of website design. It’s no longer enough to simply create a website that looks good. To be successful, websites must be easy to use, intuitive, and meet the needs of the people who use them. That’s where user-centered design comes in.


With so many higher education websites out there, it can be difficult to stand out. Storytelling is a powerful tool that can make your higher ed website design more engaging and memorable. 

Incorporating storytelling into your website’s design can create an emotional connection with your audience, build trust, and communicate your brand message in a way that is both entertaining and informative. 

By telling a unique and engaging story through visual design, photography, and copywriting, you can set your higher ed brand apart from the competition and create a strong impression with your audience.

User-centered design is a design approach that puts the needs and wants of users at the forefront of the design process. It takes into account the users’ goals, motivations, and behaviors to create a website that is tailored to their needs. Prioritizing the user experience will ensure that your site is easy to navigate and understand, providing a more satisfying and enjoyable experience for users, which makes it more likely they will stay on the site longer and engage with it more. 

Accessible Web Content

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a set of internationally recognized guidelines for making websites accessible to people with disabilities. It includes areas like color contrast, functional images, and font usage hierarchies. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your website is usable and accessible to a wider audience, which can improve the user experience for everyone who visits your site.

An additional benefit of following WCAG is that it improves your website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Websites that are accessible to people with disabilities are often easier for search engines to crawl and index. This means that your website may be more likely to appear at the top of search engine results, which can help you reach more potential visitors.

Mobile-Responsive Strategy

With the increasing number of people using mobile devices to browse the web, a higher ed website design that is mobile-responsive has become a necessity for higher education sites. 

A responsive website is designed to adjust its layout and content to the size of the user’s screen, providing an optimal viewing and navigation experience on any device. Wise design strategies for all page elements, such as responsive grids, font sizes, fluid images, and device breakpoints, are critical parts of the design process.

There are numerous benefits to using an effective mobile-responsive strategy with your higher education website, including an improved user experience, increased reach, and better SEO and conversion rates.

In Conclusion

Incorporating user-centered design, storytelling, web accessibility, and mobile responsiveness into higher ed website design creates a valuable investment for any higher education institution looking to stand apart and above in today’s crowded digital landscape.