Mobile First: Are You Meeting Student’s Expectations?

Last fall, my friend’s daughter began seriously researching colleges. A smart girl, tech-savvy, with a good idea of what she wanted out of college. Her intended major is pretty specific, and not offered at a slew of schools. She did her research, got her list together, and then got down to vetting the programs.

She’d read about one school in particular on another website like many of her peers, went to visit the school’s site on her cellphone.

Guess what? The school’s mobile website sucked.

It was cluttered, non-responsive, hard to navigate.

Just like that, the school went off her list.

How many incredible prospective students are you losing because of your poor mobile site?

Why does mobile matter so much?

It isn’t just millennials – mobile matters to us all. We start our searches on mobile more than half the time, we work and shop on mobile.

For students checking out colleges, mobile matters just as much. They expect to do everything on their phones – probably, in part, because almost everything is possible on their phones.

When it comes to first looks, my friend’s daughter wasn’t the oddball out. 81% of students visit a college’s website through mobile. For them, if you’re not delivering on their devices, you’re not delivering at all.

Who exactly are millennials?

Most of us know at least a little about this gigantic group (roughly ⅓ of the entire population), but let’s just do a little recap:

When we talk about millennials, we’re talking about those born between 1980 and 1999.

As a group, they’re the largest, most diverse generation. Their lives are completely shaped by technology. The majority of them had technology available at their fingertips since childhood. More than half of them said they’d love to start their own business. They’re go-getters and demanding consumers.

For better or worse, they sleep near their cellphones. So when it comes to thinking about how millennials approach applying for colleges, we can’t ignore their expectations for the mobile experience.

How students use mobile for admission-related actions

We know prospective students are using their mobiles in various ways such as:

  • Visiting college websites
  • Downloading university-specific apps
  • Viewing social media for universities
  • Taking virtual campus tours
  • Submitting applications for admission

57% of users will abandon your site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. More people than ever are “multi-screening.” They’re moving between different devices to accomplish something from conducting research to buying a big ticket item such as a car or television.

Offer them a great mobile experience first, and you’ll be able to keep the attention of those smart, proactive students like my friend’s daughter.

How healthy is your mobile site?

Start by thinking of mobile-first design, because that’s just how people experience the web.

Here’s a little self-diagnosis Mobile Health Check to grade your school’s mobile site. How many can you answer “yes” to?

  • Does your site take less than three seconds to load?
  • Is your key message clearly displayed? Can students easily find the information they need?
  • Are call to actions buttons, phone numbers, and email addresses clickable?
  • Is it easy to navigate from one page to another, and back again?
  • Do images load quickly?
  • Do you offer a good user experience?
  • Is it a website you would recommend to others, or spend time with on your own?

Still unsure about the state of your school’s mobile?
We’ll grade it for you.