Reaching those “right fit” students: The new School of Dentistry website

We’re just days away from the launch (Thursday, Oct. 9,  is the date, to be exact) of the new School of Dentistry site. We’ve had feedback from lots of faculty members, students and staff as we’ve tweaked and tested the new site, and it’s finally ready for all to see. As I mentioned in a blog post a few weeks back, the target audience for the new website is prospective students, of course, and the pages have helpful, specific information to help prospects decide if the Health Science Center is a good fit. We’ve also brought quite a few students on board to tell prospective students their own views on the school and explain why they themselves chose the Health Science Center. Several are featured in a video that appears at the top of the home page of the new site, and I can’t imagine a better way to get our message across than through the voices of the students themselves.

(If you are having trouble viewing the video below, click here instead.)

The video nails the message we are trying to convey, but it’s just one part of a site with 70+ pages and a lot of behind-the-scenes machinery at work. We’re ready to start measuring the traffic carefully so that we’re sure we’re meeting the recruitment goals of the site. And we’ll keep adding and tweaking to make the site even better. For now, here are some of the biggest achievements you’ll see when the site goes live:

  • Defined sections for each academic program currently offered by the School of Dentistry because we know that program pages are the backbone of an academic website. Prospective students care about the university itself and other factors such as student life and location, but first they want to understand if the specific program they seek has what they want and how much it costs. So we’ve poured a lot of energy into detailing the programs themselves in a format that is useful and digestible to prospective students.
  • A consistent look that reflects the design themes of the university’s main home page, which debuted last December. Those hexagon patterns are a nod toward the university’s logo and give a subtle sign to a reader of the School of Dentistry pages that the school is just one part of a larger, cohesive university family.
  • A website that works well on any tablet, smartphone or computer screen. The university’s new web presence is designed to be responsive, making the information accessible in any format. We know that’s hugely important as technology preferences evolve, and our “responsive design” instincts were validated once again when we got some stats recently on users of the new UT Dentistry site.  Even we were surprised by the number: 43 percent of those who checked out the new UT Dentistry site in the weeks after the launch did so from a phone.

When you’re looking at the new site, I encourage you to think like a prospective student. If you were sitting at a laptop trying to compare the Health Science Center with other dental schools around the country, what kinds of questions would you ask? What kind of impression would you get based on a website alone? By thinking like someone who has never set foot on our campus, we can help convert those who may not yet realize that the Health Science Center is a pretty special place.

I’ll update this post with a link to the new site when it goes live. As always, I welcome your thoughts in the comments section below, too.


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