Show Me the Data - A Blog About University and College Websites

Rock-solid websites are the foundation of effective digital marketing, communications, e-commerce and social media campaigns.

But, you can’t know if your higher education website is rock-solid without checking it.

We study higher education websites to identify and benchmark the critical issues and we publish the results here.

Our automated higher education website quality assurance service is founded on our research so you can find and fix issues from privacy and security, through social media usage and SEO, to website analytics and content.

24 Tools to Test Higher Education Website Accessibility

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Introduction We’ve published two higher education website accessibility articles. The first, Keeping Higher Education Websites Accessible is Hard to Do … reviewed the accessibility testing results for 46 university and college website home pages in the Province of Ontario: a jurisdiction with accessibility legislation in effect. Our research showed it is hard to keep sites accessible. The second article, 6 Accessibility Fixes for University and College Websites analysed the test results reported in the first article, isolating the most frequently occurring errors. We also suggested...
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What You Should Discover About Higher Education Websites Ahead of GDPR

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EU General Data Protection Regulation Higher education websites regularly use online forms, event registrations, pop-up polls, surveys and other devices that capture personally identifiable information. After 25 May 2018 that data could become subject to enhanced European Union (EU) data protection rules. And, before you leave thinking this news isn’t relevant, one word: Extraterritoriality. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies to all organisations processing EU citizens’ personal data regardless of where those organisations are located. University and college websites in the US, Canada,...
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How Google Analytics Helps Higher Education Websites Meet Their Goals

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How does Google Analytics Help? In our last post we asserted that using Google Analytics (GA) isn’t about enumerating visits, device types or operating systems, it’s about gathering the data to understand if a site’s objectives are being met and to what degree. The first step is to identify the outcomes that the overall site or specific pages are intended to achieve and determine what measures would let you recognise success. Higher education institution websites exhibit two specific complexities that makes identifying outcomes more difficult...
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Why Higher Education Websites Need Google Analytics

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Why do university websites need Google Analytics? The purpose of Google Analytics (GA) isn’t to enumerate visitors, devices or browsers, it is to help understand if a site’s objectives are being achieved and to quantify the level of success. Sites need Google Analytics (or similar web analytics services) to collect the data to know if site or specific page outcomes are being met and, how well they are being met. Outcomes are usually marketing or communications objectives. For example, we can use GA to answer...
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The University Home Page – Help or Hindrance?

The University Home Page – Help or Hindrance?
Overview Now that the new academic year is in full swing, and the dust has settled on enrolment and induction for 2017, the next cohort of UK students are getting ready to fill in their Personal Statements and submit their applications to UCAS by the January 2018 deadline (Oxford and Cambridge potentials will have done this already!). But are these potential students looking at university home pages to find out what they need to know about studying at your institution – and if so, what...
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6 Accessibility Fixes for University and College Websites

6 Accessibility Fixes for University and College Websites
Maintaining Accessibility Requires Continuous Effort If you read this brief article all the way to the end you will know the most frequently occurring accessibility issues we identified on Ontario’s university and college websites so you can fix them. Our last article showed that keeping higher education websites accessible isn’t easy. We used an automated accessibility testing application on the home pages of Ontario’s university and college websites. The application assessed the types and number of issues found and we discussed a few caveats that...
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Keeping Higher Education Websites Accessible is Hard to Do …

Keeping Higher Education Websites Accessible is Hard to Do …
Summary Websites need constant attention to ensure they meet performance, user experience and accessibility standards and to follow leading practice. Maintenance is an essential, but dull, task readily eclipsed by implementing new features, content or capabilities. Our research reveals how difficult it is to keep any website attribute in peak condition, even when that attribute is a ‘must do’ rather than a ‘should do’. Experience shows that some website attributes are regarded as ‘should dos’, for example, have unique page titles or page description text....
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5 Ways to Prevent Websites Harming Your Higher Education Institution’s Reputation

5 Ways to Prevent Websites Harming Your Higher Education Institution’s Reputation
Summary Institutional oversight of higher education websites is often patchy or difficult to put in place. But, if you edit content, develop websites, are part of an IT organisation or belong to a higher education marketing and communications team, this blog post is for you. We looked at 300 (297 to be exact) websites forming part of the web estate of a large publicly-funded North American university. Using our quality assurance software, we collected data about each website. We used that data to assess how...
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Extending the Benefits of HTTPS: Security, Trust and Identity

Extending the Benefits of HTTPS: Security, Trust and Identity
The Story So Far … Currently, when you connect to most university or college websites your browser (in this case Chrome) maintains studied neutrality about the connection security (HTTP), for example:  The October 2017 release of Chrome 62 will slightly up the ante, with security warning messages on entering data on sites with HTTP connections: Google’s original security post is here: https://security.googleblog.com/2017/04/next-steps-toward-more-connection.html In our last article , we established that about one third of university and college main websites have implemented HTTPS. On connecting to...
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Making the Grade: How Risky is Your Site After Upgrading to HTTPS?

Making the Grade: How Risky is Your Site After Upgrading to HTTPS?
Website Risks In talking to university internal auditors recently about higher education websites and the risks they present the discussion quickly focused on security issues, skipping over all the other exposures they pose. A general area of attention is the migration of sites to secure HTTPS connections, as this seemingly ‘technical’ transition overlaps with general cybersecurity concerns. And, a more specific aspect of this upgrade is how well has HTTPS been implemented? We can now answer that question. Background Frankly, by now, all higher education...
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Higher Education Website QA

 

Rock-solid websites are a foundation of effective digital marketing, communications and social media campaigns.

You’ll only know if a site is undermining campaigns, harming reputations or creating risk exposures by checking it.

 

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