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This post is written by Hannah Fuchigami, Marketing Coordinator at Funnelback.

Google and Amazon have gotten something right. These digital giants make UX a top priority. They have teams dedicated to streamlining the customer journey and connecting people with relevant search results. In the past two decades, popular sites have increasingly given the search bar the respect it deserves. It started as a tired afterthought and has slowly grown to become a primary navigation tool for many popular sites, including e-commerce, social media, blogs, and forums. With prospects and students (and if we’re honest, educators and parents) using these sites on a daily basis, we’re asking: is the user experience (UX) in higher ed up to snuff?

While we’d like to say yes, the reality is that many sites leave something to be desired for your mobile-minded, tech-savvy audience.

As the conversation around UX in higher education is heating up, remember the potential in search.

A worthwhile investment

Chances are, your site has loads of informative content created with users in mind, focused in on the most helpful, useful, and relevant bits. However, this content does little to add value if it can’t be found quickly by your audience. Some 55 percent of users will abandon a website if they can’t find information quickly. With effective site search, there is less time spent seeking answers and more time spent applying, donating, choosing courses, learning and doing.

To learn more about site search, download the Funnelback Complete Guide to Site Search here.

Benefits of site search include:

  • Lower cost of interactions
  • Dynamically offer most relevant content
  • Provide insight into your content library
  • Connect services across institutional silos
  • Improve your SEO rankings
  • Increase the findability of information
  • Improve the quality of your online content
  • Solve accessibility and navigation challenges
  • Increase user satisfaction
  • Boost key metrics like student acquisition

There are three key means by which site search plays a role in delivering these outcomes.

  1. Information Retrieval

Shortening user journeys to connect site visitors with what they’re looking for is the most basic function of site search and the one that can be the most frustrating if it’s not done well. Your site search should unite your data across departments and silos, giving the user the most relevant results at their fingertips. Overcome linguistic challenges, tailor the best results, and include rich media into the search results. This is your chance to point students directly to the events, courses, and professors that matter to them. No more wild goose chases to different directories and department pages.

  1. Key Insights & Analysis

A modern site search solution provides insight into user behavior and fills in gaps that might otherwise be overlooked. As the student population demands information to be readily available, site search uncovers their unique behavior, interests, and needs. With an intuitive dashboard, leaders can garner a broad understanding of activities across digital content, and react at a moment’s notice to new trends. Good search data and insights are enough to make any IT or marketing team giddy.

  1. Personalized Experiences

With a site search that tailors macro and micro personalization experiences, higher ed can keep up with modern search expectations, conditioned by Amazon and Netflix to expect the most relevant content. When each user experiences a tailored journey, the value is abundantly clear. We see many universities focusing on the student experience on campus, ensuring each student is set up for success. In 2018 and beyond, it’s time to consider the individual web experience of each student.

The New Normal

The days of search as an afterthought is over. If your user experience practices are focused on closing the gap between what users need and what they are getting, site search is the bridge. There’s a real reason why providing users with dynamic and proactive results is working for Amazon, Netflix, and Google.

There’s an ROI to each engagement, and now, more than ever, it’s crucial for higher education institutions to maximize their search potential for students, prospects, faculty, alumni, and parents. Ensuring you are able to index all your necessary content, understand user behavior through analytics, and power personalized search is soon to become an intuitive and effortless solution to many of your digital challenges.

To learn more about site search, download the Funnelback Complete Guide to Site Search here.

 

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