The University of Applied Sciences Münster has relaunched their website for potential students. And the result is impressive! Young modern design meets elaborate user-friendliness and makes our usability expert happy. Our in-house agency Jugendstil assessed the university’s website usability as part of an expert evaluation of the site. According to their verdict the university has developed a best practice example for university marketing and online recruitment. We spoke to Karsten Schäpermeier, the Head of University Communications, about the relaunch of the website.
Mr Schäpermeier, what were your main reasons to update your website?
We had the major relaunch in autumn 2015. We updated the technology and layout of the website and switched to responsive design. At the time, we got a new corporate identity and a new logo. In spring 2017 we introduced a new campus management system and gave the applicant area an overhaul. Our aim was to give the user the feeling of being able to easily jump between the different systems. We wanted them to feel consistency and to be guided through the dialogue with the site.
How did you proceed? Did you do any usability testing?
The site we have today is the result of a number of processes. In 2011 we conducted a usability test for our course pages. We had two focus groups: potential students and students who were already enrolled. A lot of the critical user scenarios we discovered then are still valid today. In addition to that, we really focused on the integration of website and Campus Management System, when we introduced the new CMS. In autumn 2017 we are planning to do another usability test. The optimisation of our website is an ongoing process.
Do you have an intranet as well?
Yes, we do. Technically speaking it is an extranet on our website. The myFH-Portal, which students and employees can sign up for, is designed to be the first port of call for all internal matters.
Did the relaunch have a positive effect on your visits or page impressions?
Yes, indeed. We now use a monitoring tool and determined that May 2017 had the highest number of page impressions in two years. What is much more important than this, however, is that the bounce rate in the section of the site, which we had recently updated, was extremely low.
This is a good indication that you did all the right things with your relaunch, isn’t it?
That’s true. One of the most significant changes, which was especially helpful for potential students, was the adaptation of our guides. We introduced a step-by-step guide to the application process, because this differs vastly depending on factors such as your course of study or where you gained your entry qualification.
Can you already see a change in applicant numbers and quality after the relaunch of the guides?
It’s still too early to say. In any case, this is a difficult thing to predict because the application deadline is not until 15 July. Apart from that, applicant numbers also depend largely on external factors such as the number of high school graduates in a year.
How much time did you spend on the relaunch?
If you factor in the idea and draft concept phases, I would say years. As I said, we are in the middle of an ongoing process. If you look only at the last stage of changes, the project took about three to four months – without the conceptual stage, just the technical changes.
Is there anything that you would do differently for your next relaunch?
You can always find something to improve on and work faster, better or more efficiently. The current relaunch has shown us that it is important to not only set time aside for testing but also plenty of time to implement the changes throughout all affected areas of the system.
Thank you very much for this interview.