University Website Home Page Wordiness

university website home page wordiness

How Wordy Is Your University Website's Home Page?

In November 2017 Claire Gibbons reviewed a sample of university website home pages to see whether they helped or hindered potential students.

Claire used a “Top Tasks” perspective to examine if university website audiences were able to carry out their most important interactions easily and efficiently.

We decided to see how succinctly higher education home pages communicate with their audiences. For this exercise we scanned each home page, extracting and counting text from the underlying HTML.

We looked at five different countries - Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States - to identify the range and 90th percentile values: For presentation reasons only, we combined Australia’s and New Zealand’s results to give four charts.

We sampled just over 500 institutions, who use, on average, between 1,000 and 1,500 words on their home pages. Some of this text is not readily apparent – namely the page title and page description content – but the rest is directly visible to page visitors.  Even the more verbose sites usually cover everything they have to say in less than 2,500 – 2,600 words (90th percentile).

The charts below, show the spread and means and confirm that sites cluster towards the concise end of the verbosity spectrum:

Graph of the word count for UK university website home pages
Graph of the word count for US university website home pages
Graph of the word count for Canadian university website home pages
Graph of the word count for Canadian university website home pages

In the course of our analysis we discovered that some home pages still use keywords (a lot of keywords) bumping up their total word count. We did not exclude this text from our counting exercise.