UK Higher Education Homepage Collection

image of small screenshots of UK university homepages

Higher Education Website Design: Portrait or Landscape?

As our software scans individual webpages as well as entire web estates, it can capture webpage images as they appear in desktop, tablet and mobile browsers. This type of scanning exercise can be performed across a single site, across the homepages of an institution's main sub-sites or across entire institutions.

When the resulting webpage images are assembled into galleries or portfolios, university web developers, designers, content strategists and UX specialists can check designs, layouts, mobile friendliness and user experience.

The same analysis of website designs supports competitive research: perhaps confirming if short video is this year's or last year's university homepage trend. And, detailed scanning supports digital governance, allowing key institutional sub-site and microsite pages to be rapidly reviewed for guideline, policy and preferred practice compliance.

University Website Design - Desktop View

For this article we snapped 170 UK university and college website images. We published the results of a similar exercise for Canada’s higher education institutions, two weeks ago.

We configured our software for a photoshoot at standard desktop screen dimensions of 1920x1080, producing images as the pages appear in Google Chrome. In other words, the image shows the website design has it appears on a typical desktop monitor.

Given the principal audience for these websites, the homepages will be more frequently viewed on mobile devices than desktops. A future post will review and examine desktop and mobile images side-by-side to determine how well desktop designs translate to mobile layouts.

Tagging Higher Education Website Homepage Images

As in our early exercise, we’ve tagged the images to capture their most prominent visual design features, including any headlines, straplines or taglines:

  • buildings – an on-campus building
  • choices – no single focus but visitors can click links to execute defined tasks
  • individual – student, faculty or alumni profile
  • news – breaking or recent news and events
  • ranking – ranking or other institutional statistics
  • research – an example of current research
  • statement – a headline, mission or similar institutional statement
  • students – two or more students
  • work – a focus on career or work possibilities

We believe we’ve selected our tags judiciously, but readily acknowledge that reducing complex website design ideas and messaging to a small set of categories will lack nuance.

We’ve carried over the tags used in the earlier Canadian higher education institution homepage exercise and we’ll combine the two galleries in due course.

Most of the pages require more than one tag, so pages will show up more than once.  UK university websites favour embedded video, and our snapshots only capture one moment (after all the on-page JavaScript has executed) of a longer visual message. We use Google Chrome as the browser (user agent) for image capture, so you may get slightly different results with Safari or Firefox.

Which Content Management Systems Power UK University Homepages?

As well as descriptive tags we’ve added tags for the principal content management systems (CMSs) rendering the pages. We've picked out the top six CMSs and lumped everyone else into OTHER. All CMS tags are in upper case.

Clicking on a tag filters and re-orders the gallery to show the breadth of home page design and content strategy approaches.


UK Higher Education Website Homepage Design Gallery




If you had a vague concern about the homogeneity of higher education website designs our gallery may have provided relief, confirmation or both.

We collected this article’s data using our higher education web estate management solution. Homepage images are one example of the content, user experience and risk insights to be obtained by analysing data captured from comprehensively scanning college and university websites.



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