Website Design and Development
Artificial Intelligence and machine learning customized for higher education, AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) and Response Animation Mobile Load (RAIL) are three emerging technologies for website design and development in colleges. Designing for sustainability and contextual design can be of value to higher education. Colleges are struggling with ways to monetize their web sites for various reasons.
Emerging Technologies for Website Design for Colleges
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
- Many experts believe that a combination of chatbots and machine learning will be critical to a successful website engaging its target audience.
- Large technology companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook are implementing these technologies, as are large retailers and service companies.
- The success of a chatbot will depend on the ability of the college to define a clear purpose and the timely establishment of objectives by the recruitment, admissions, marketing, operations, IT, or innovation teams -the primary decision-makers.
- It is crucial to understand that a chatbot is an out of the box product that will evolve and continuously learn, according to the technologies, needs, channels, and interactions users adopt. A product designed specifically for education will provide proper infrastructure.
- College functions that can make use of chatbots are admissions, financial aid, career services, online programs, housing, and student affairs.
- Organizations already using chatbots include the University of Oklahoma and Temple University.
Accelerated Mobile Pages
- Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP is a technology "built to make the whole performance of web ads and content much better when working on website speed and user experience."
- AMP can be used to build instant loading websites. AMP is an open-source project with an active community of contributors. This minimizes the risk of being tied to a single vendor.
- Because 95% of teens have access to a smartphone, and 45% say they are online 'almost constantly', smartphones will be the primary means of accessing college websites. Speed becomes a significant component of engagement.
- AMP has been used successfully by publishers like CNBC, Hearst, Wired, the Washington Post, and Slate.
Response Animation Idle Load (RAIL)
- RAIL is a technological model for dividing a user's experience into most commonly used actions (for example, drag, scroll, tap, load).
- RAIL includes performance goals for these actions (i.e., tap to paint in under 100 milliseconds).
- RAIL provides a framework for thinking about performance. This means that designers and developers can reliably concentrate on the highest-impact work.
- RAIL focuses on the overall user experience, providing developer reliable benchmark for measuring and improving website performance.
- Rail is used by Chrome Developers to conduct an in-depth analysis of every process while a page runs or loads.
Design and Functionality Trends
Design for sustainability
- Public engagement with climate change has become widespread. Most industries now seem to be taking steps to mitigate catastrophic impacts. That trend is now moving into the web development area.
- Internet technologists are beginning to take note of the fact that information and communications technology will consume between eight and 21 percent of global energy by 2030. "Anyone who delivers web products has a responsibility to consider energy use in their design and implementation."
- The biggest culprits for energy consumption are "oversized and uncompressed images, bloated external scripts, and autoplaying video." From a UX and environmental point of view, "using lazy loading is vital if you have lots of assets on a page. And on the back end, caching can hugely reduce the server load."
- Once that is implemented, it is vital to make students and alumni aware of the issue. The GenZ generation is more likely to make selections based on corporate social responsibility, including those affecting climate change.
Geotargeting and Contextual Offerings
- Geotargeting involves determining the location from which the user is accessing your website. Contextualizing a website takes place when the service being offered meets the needs of the user of the website. More and more organizations are looking to contextualizing their web sites to engage their users. In the financial world, some organizations have tripled their profits using this concept.
- Contextualizing requires integration with the data available to all colleges. A high school student checking admissions data could be shown the number of students from their school, or city, that was admitted the previous year. These stats could even be driven down to a faculty level. Applicants looking at student housing could be presented with the number of residents by gender on each floor. Potential graduate students could be given the number of TA positions in their degree program.
- Data analytics is the underpinning of this approach. UPenn is in the middle of such a project. They are looking at "gaining insights from the vast amount of data already available to us by continuing to connect these data points so that we can understand a user's journey from their first touch on one of our websites to becoming a student at the University."
Monetizing a college website
- Research in the field of higher education shows the vertical is struggling to find ways to monetize their data. The reasons include a reluctance to change as well as a fear of alienating their existing donors.