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Sprint goal:

  1. To benchmark competitors' open days and visits content to see how we compare. 
  2. To make changes to our 'Ways to experience the University' topic page using the conclusions drawn from our research.


Questions:

Do they have a landing page/ web section for the whole subject, or different pages in different sections of their websites?

Do they have events pages?

What sort of supporting information do they include - travel/ accommodation/ virtual/ level of study etc.

Any other things that we notice that we may not have covered on our site.


Scope: 

The Russell Group Universities

and

Portsmouth
Bournemouth
De Monfort
Nottingham Trent

(all of these pay for advertising in search engines)

UniversityURLMain page typePage titleEvents pages Y/NSupporting informationAdditional commentsVirtual stuffChat botsTravel incentivesCity / holiday infoOpen day app
University of Bathhttps://www.bath.ac.uk/campaigns/ways-to-experience-the-university/CampaignWays to experience the UniversityNoTravel info at the bottom of open day pageTop level page is hard to find - you go to courses, UG and then all the way to the bottom. We need to make this easier to find as I didn't take this many steps to get to visit info on other uni sites. Other info such as accessibility is hard to find as we don't have h1s for this infoPGT virtual open dayNoNo (Yes but not linked to)Not linked toNo (Yes but we don't mention it)
University of Bristolhttps://www.bristol.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/visits/Landing page with links to applicant days, tours, off campus events, open days, international visits and virtual eventsOpen days and visitsNoOpen day page links to 'how to get here' which links out to maps, travel and accessibility contentLanding page covers info for lots of different users - seems to be in a strange order - applicant days first and PGT open days hidden at the bottom. This may be because they are further in the future. Self-guided tour is an app with students talkingUG and international virtual open daysNoYes, but only for care leavers to get to open dayExplore our city page linked from open days pageNo
University of Cambridgehttps://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/eventsText-heavy page with links to different open days and 'masterclasses'Open Days and EventsYesLInk to 'getting here' in related links nav, which then links to accessibility info and a mapThis page covers all info for experiencing the the uni, including widening participation events for teachers & school children, specific events for care leavers etc, overseas events. Interesting that it mentions you may have to pay a fee to visit campus on a non-open day!NoNoYes travel fund for care leavers - this content is hard to findNone linked toNo
Cardiff Universityhttps://www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/open-days-visitsLanding page with links to open days events, planning info and other ways to visitOpen Days and visits for undergraduate studyYes - eventbrite linkTravel info and 'plan your day' are pinned to landing pageVirtual tour is available online at all times. map is a related download link. No PGT info. Option to sign up for reminders about future open daysVirtual campus tourNoNoYes linked in side navYes, CU open day
Durham Universityhttps://www.dur.ac.uk/international/visit-us/Visit us page links to tours, open days and campus tours - not an obvious landing pageVisit usNoThere is travel info and info about open day bursaries etc but you have to click through a long waySElf-guided info is about the whole city as the campus is sprad across Durham. There are department-specific visits but you have to contact them to book. All very UG focused contentNoYes - talk to a studentYes - must meet criteriaDiscover Durham toursNo
University of Edinburghhttps://www.ed.ac.uk/visitLanding page with links ato open days, events near you, maps, tours, museums, visitor centre, eventsVisitYes - calendar pageLinks to maps, accessibility info, transport on landing pageCan filter content by UG or PG if you want and this provides more specific info about each event. PGT is also virtual events like Bath.Online info sessionsNoNoThe city page linked in pinned itemNo
University of Exeterhttps://www.exeter.ac.uk/undergraduate/visit/Separate open days landing page for UG, PGT, PGR and Teacher TrainingOpen Days and visitingNoNoneVery little info about UG open days, you choose which campus to visit and then get sent in a loop. Only CTA currently is to sign up for alerts, so may be that they update the page closer to open day (May/Sept)Online virtual toursNoNoNoNo
University of Glasgowhttps://www.gla.ac.uk/explore/visit/Landing page with links for UG and PG, campus tours, attractions and transport infoVisit usYes, for each eventNav section linkks to maps, transport, accessibility, where to stayReally easy to navigate - splitting by UG, PG, and other helps to take me on straightforward user journeyCampus tour video led by students and virtual UG and PG eventsNoNoCity of Glasgow page in bottom nav (small)Yes after registering
Imperial College Londonhttps://www.imperial.ac.uk/visit/Landing page with links to open days, campus event bookings, facilities and other visit optionsVisitYes, including for lectures etcCampus locatins and maps in top navSimple layout, includes links to wider things like school visits and current student stories. Booking an event sounds like booking a venue but is actually about campus tours and department visits - so not a good title for thisWebinarsNonoExplore the local area page linkedNo
King's College Londonhttps://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/visitLanding page with links to open days, PGT evenings, taster days, walks, campus info, tours, lifestyle info and eventsVisit KingsYesPlan your journey and accommodatin linked to from open days pages, so later in the journeySummary mentions VODs but I can't find a link to VODs on the page. Lots of different options to choose so content is slightly hard to follow. Links to 'explore king's' which is more about student living and London in generalNoYes talk to a studentNoNoYes, later on
University of Leedshttps://www.leeds.ac.uk/info/116000/undergraduate/42/visit_usText-heaving page with links to campus tours, open days, independent visits and applicant visitsVisit usYesLinks to 'find us' page with transport info, can't find accessibility infoYou have to choose UG or PG first, then you can click through to the visit us page. YOu then choose how you want to visit which takes you to another page - difficult to choose the best option if you can't see them all at the same timeNoNoNoNoNo
University of Liverpoolhttps://www.liverpool.ac.uk/study/No landing page but links to visit us content on 'study' page"Study with Liverpool h2 Visit us"No, just sign up infoSide nav links to getting here and accessibilityTheir VOD is a click-through digital map thing where you find out about departments as if you were walking around campus. There;s no interaction with people though.VOD click through mapNoJust a 10% car park discountWelcome to Liverpool page in side navNo
London School of Economics & Political Sciencehttp://www.lse.ac.uk/study-at-lse/meet-visit-and-discover-LSELanding page with links to visit, meet and experience from homeDiscover LSENoLinks out to map and accessibility infoThe 'meet' content is similar to some of the 'visit' content, so it wasn't initially clear where open days would be - it's under both. 'Meet' content is a list of events, 'Visit' content is much broader - similar to our topic pageVideo campus tour, webinars, open days podcastsNoLSE travel fund for rail or coach travel linked to from visit pageNoNo
University of Manchesterhttps://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/open-days-visits/Landing page with links to open days, international events and other ways to visitUniversity open daysNoLinks out to travel, plan your day and city infoIt was difficult to find this page - had to go through open days (later in journey) and click back along the page treeLive webinars,NoNoManchester city page linked to from plan your open day pageYes
Newcastle Universityhttps://www.ncl.ac.uk/study/meet/Landing page with links to pgt open day, sign up for ug open day and travel info. Events calendar on landign pageMeet usYes" Getting Here page covers travel, transport and map"I like the personal tone with 'meet us' and 'join us'. Content lower on page is separated by UG, PG, schools and applicant eventsNoYesNoNone linked toNo
University of Nottinghamhttps://www.nottingham.ac.uk/Visit/index.aspxLanding page with links to each campus page and events, including different open days and other uni eventsVisitNo, just sign up infoEach campus has a page about transport, maps, parking, route planner,The emphasis seems to be on the capus info more than the events - may be this is moved around when the open days are closer? Doesn't use persuasive language like 'come to an open day'Virtual tourYesNoLinks to external site 'visit nottinghamshire'No
University of Oxfordhttps://www.ox.ac.uk/visitors?wssl=1Landing page about broader Oxford city and each college. Content for prospective students is small link at the bottomVisitorsNoOpen day page links to travel advice and planning your visitTop level visit page is aimed at non-students - possibly due to tourist interest in Oxford? Lots of different department open days which ahve their own dates and schedulesA video of the Oxford rooftops as a feature at the top of the page. A link on the side nav to Google views of Oxford.NoNoYes, a link to Visiting Oxford in the side navNo
Queen Mary, University of Londonhttps://www.qmul.ac.uk/undergraduate/openday/Landing page for open days links to registration and other options for campus visitsOpen daysNo, just sign up infoLinks out to travel and plan your dayVery simple landing page. It seems that you have to go to an open day or an arranged tour - there isn't anything about self-guided toursYes, a virtual open dayNo, you have the option to use a chatbot but you have to find a link to it in the 'Can't make it' pageNoNoYes, QMUL
Queen's University Belfasthttps://www.qub.ac.uk/about/Visit-Us/Landing page covering all areas of visitationVisit usYesFeatured link at the bottom of the page to 'Make a weekend of it' and explore Belfast and Northern Ireland. Clever idea to turn visiting an Open Day into part of a wider holiday.Page is clear, attractive and easy to navigate with four main links on the page and a nav section on the header. There's a balance between different ways to experience the Uni, and you won't find Open Days until you click into the 'Undergraduate events', five events down.Yes, a virtual tourNoNo, although the 'Getting here' page gives you information about the Ylink card for 16-23 year oldsYes, a 'Make a weekend of it' page accessible from the top navNo
University of Sheffieldhttps://www.sheffield.ac.uk/visit-usSimple Landing page covering all areas of visiting with dropdown menu at the header and simple and effective photo links.VisitNo, just a link to a mailing list.There's a section dedicated to students returning to education, with inmformation about free taster events and a Discover Course. This is from a department called Lifelong Learning. There's also a section for EU students to book a visit.Some ways of visiting seem to get lost, for example Taster days appear after you click the link to Undrgraduate Open Days.Yes, a video tourNoAccess Travel Bursary for those who meet eligibilityPDF of a self-guided city tour from the Plan Your Visit pageNo
University of Southamptonhttps://www.southampton.ac.uk/about/visit/open-days.page#_ga=2.149308917.2140376798.1580912142-1956057862.1580912142Open Day focused Landing page with a lot of links and dropdowns.University Open DaysNo, just a link to register interest.The have a Chatbot pop-up called Botty McBotface.This page feels too crowded. A mix of links, dropdowns and sections feels confusing, and hard to find the information you need. There are seperate Landing pages for 'Getting to our campuses', 'Postgraduate Open Days' and Postgraduate visits'. The bottom of the PG and UG Landing pages have additional links about Campus Tours and visiting the Uni.Yes, a virtual Open DayYes - Botty McBotfaceFree Unilink shuttle running from train stations and WestquayNoYes, MySouthampton
University College Londonhttps://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/open-days/Very simple but striking Landing page with four main linksUCL Open DaysNo, just generic pages and a link to pre-register interestThe simple links and striking photos make this page straighforward and attractive. They have Graduate Open Days.A simple Landing page with four main links - UG Open Days, PG Open Days, campus tours and travelling to UCL.There's mention of a 'virtual event' on the 'Plan your visit' page but no links found anywhere on any of the tours, visiting or open day pagesNoNoNo, just a mention on the Open Day page that the campus is in the middle of London so you should make a day of it. Also a section on the 'Plan your visit' page about making the most of your visit - one paragraphNo
University of Warwickhttps://warwick.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/visits/Landing page with linksVisit usNo
This page is straightforward and does the job. There are clear links to all the different ways to visit the Uni, including Offer Holder Open Days and Schools.NoNoFree shuttlebus from Coventry and Warwick Parkways stations on Open DaysNoNo
University of Yorkhttps://www.york.ac.uk/study/visit/Landing page with linksVisit usNoA pop-up appears with a link to a live chat with student ambassadors.The main sections on the page are mainly split into UG and PG events. Towards the bottom there are smaller links for teachers, campus tours, conferences and international events.Yes, a virtual tourYes - chat with studentsCould be eligible for a travel bursary if you're under the Contectual Offer policy for the applicant visit daysNoNo
University of Portsmouthhttps://www.port.ac.uk/study/open-days
University Open DaysNo
The page presents as an Open Day page, but it has clear links to other ways to visit and experience the University. There's also a video guide to the city embedded on the page.NoNoNoA video guide to the cityNo
Bournemouth Universityhttps://www.bournemouth.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/open-daysLanding page with links. Not really any text or information.Open daysYes
The page presents as an Open Day page, but it has links to Virtual tours, Self-guided tours, exhibitions and international events too.Yes, a virtual tourYes - a live chat30% off travel for those travelling to Open Day by National ExpressNoNo
De Monfort Universityhttps://www.dmu.ac.uk/study/undergraduate-study/open-days/open-days.aspxLanding page with videos, links and guideDMU Open DaysNoDe Monfort offer 50% off all rail tickets for students booked onto the Open Day.This page posts mainly Open Day links and information, although there's a link to Online chat events and Campus tours at the bottom of the page.NoNoYes, 50% off rail tickets for all prospective applicants with an Open Day bookingNoNo
Nottingham Trent Universityhttps://www.ntu.ac.uk/study-and-courses/open-days?gclid=Cj0KCQiA7OnxBRCNARIsAIW53B84ilL96PDno_HB3Jm-U2h4KJAlufFb4YxOVlkkC-l42dyXUqJWm38aAtiuEALw_wcBLanding page with lots of links and photos.Open daysNo
This is a main Open Day page, with a link to a seperate page called 'Other ways to meet us' which has information about UCAS events and campus tours: https://www.ntu.ac.uk/study-and-courses/open-days/other-ways-to-meet-usYes, a virtual tourNoNoAn 'Explore Nottingham' section on the travel page with links to Nottingham tourist websitesNo

Summary of findings:


In total, we looked at 28 UK universities.

27 had at least one top-level page dedicated to open days and visits.

University of Liverpool did not have a landing page, just a section of the overall study page linked to open day event pages.

Types

The types of page varied. 

  • Text-based
  • Image-based
  • Top nav
  • Side nav
  • Content heavy 
  • Link only

Conclusion: The easiest to use websites were image-based without too much text, had minimal links in the main content but good navigation either at the side or at the top. 

Page titles

12 universities used 'Visit' / 'visitors' / 'visiting us' in their page titles.

9 used 'Open days'.

3 used both 'open days' and 'visit'.

4 used another kind of title: Bath used 'Ways to experience the University', Newcastle used 'Meet us', LSE used 'Discover LSE' and Liverpool used 'Study with Liverpool' which linked out to open days pages.

Conclusion: 

People are probably more likely to use search terms like 'visit' or 'visiting' which will help them find these pages. 'Open days' is a widely-used term by universities so most users will know what to expect from a page with this title.

This suggests that we could use a more specific title with language prospective students use to help them find and understand the page.

Travel information

20 landing pages have direct links to transport, maps and accessibility information.

Conclusion: 

Finding travel information is a common next step for users after registering for an open day or deciding if they can make it. We could improve our page by moving the travel info for Bath higher on the page.

Events

9 universities had pages for the events they were hosting (e.g. open days, bookable tours) rather than just booking forms or broader pages with other content.

19 universities did not have clear separate event pages.

Conclusion:

Our open days generally run on the same format each season, so the bulk of the event information will be easiest to find on the campaign pages, with separate booking forms to choose the date to attend. Individual event pages may not be necessary.

Filter content by study level e.g. UG/PGT etc

6 universities make you choose your level of study before showing you how to visit. This means you only see events relevant to you.

Conclusion:

Not many universities use this method but we found that it is an effective way to organise content. As our open days are so different for UG and PGT, it makes sense to only show them the events they can attend. This will avoid confusion and make navigation smoother as for example, PGT students won't try to come to a UG open day.

Extra incentives and features

Chat bots - 7 universities

Conclusion: Not many universities use these and they don't seem to provide trustworthy information.


Travel bursaries for visitors - 11 universities

Conclusion: We provide a bursary for disadvantaged students so we should make this clear on the page unless there is a reason not to make this more widely known. It could be a good incentive for prospective students and makes us look inclusive.


City info / holiday planner - 14 universities

Conclusion: Half of universities directly link to city or holiday information - this may be down to whether there is anything touristy to do there. As we are in a World Heritage destination, we could do more to include this information as it makes the open day trip seem more worthwhile and people can get to know the city.


Virtual campus tours / open days / maps - 20 universities

Conclusion: We already talk about PGT virtual open days, but we could also link to Matterport virtual tours to show users what the campus is like.


Open day app - 5 universities

Conclusion: We could talk about our app as it is a good way to organise your day and might make it easier for some people to visit and book talks. It also shows we are up to date with our audience's needs.


Page usability 

Pages that were easiest to find were either linked in the homepage nav (or top level student page nav) or had logical search terms in the title, such as 'visit' or 'open days'. Our page was one of the hardest to find as there is no direct link to it in the navigation and the title is vague and broad. It doesn't use any search terms that we would expect prospective students to use. This may put users off if they struggle to find the information they are looking for quickly.


Visits/open days top-level pages that were easiest to use were those with direct links to the main tasks e.g. booking open day, travel info and other experience options. We should divide the content by UG and PG and only use links that users need so they are not overwhelmed with options. Websites that worked best were those that showed the journey we had taken so we could find our way back to previous pages without missing anything.

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