Web Design & Development

7 Best College and University Websites in 2019

Web designs for academic institutions are relatively complex things. Colleges, and especially large universities, are small cities with campus-wide missions, social clubs, student housing, and food and energy services to make it all run. So there’s a ton to consider when thinking about what students, parents, and prospective students want when visiting a given college’s website.

It’s by no means a one-size-fits-all answer, as each institution will offer both essential things in common between each other and a vast amount of campus specialties that set them apart.

Let’s take a look at some of the 7 best college and university websites

…to get a better feel for how high education compellingly presents itself to the digital world

  1. The University of Notre Dame

    A large, private university based on catholic traditions, their homepage showcases a vertical slide of faith-based news, scientific research, and a campus-wide goal of staying aware of global opportunities and conflict. This visual sequence works without seeming to meander because the header toolbar is unobtrusively always available, blending its navigation options with the white, blue, and gold background colors of the university. The darker color palette and expression of high-concept ideals adds gravity to exploring the university’s options, giving the viewer a sense of tradition and importance about the institution.

  2. Bucknell University

    Simplicity and upfront clarity is at the heart of Bucknell’s web design. With the aptly-written “Where It Begins” slogan over the homepage background video, the first call to action is immediately visible and about how to apply. Scrolling down the page takes viewers to necessary and concisely formatted information about recent alumni and campus achievement, student testimonials, the university’s three colleges for all academics, and info for general campus visitation. The consolidation of all the above markets the college for what it is: a small, community-driven liberal arts university with a highly selective student body. This community marketing focus is especially important for an institution like Bucknell that is almost entirely composed of undergraduates and offers very few graduate programs.

  3. The University of Alabama

    Home of college football’s Crimson Tide, this state flagship’s site is highly interactive and very well organized, especially considering how much information and how many navigation options are right on the homepage. It’s the structure of information that keeps everything from looking like a mess: everything’s composed with a “like things together” principle. The big slideshow up top is basically a current events highlight reel, academically and otherwise, to capture viewer attention. The menu just below it is information about degree-types and the resources to achieve them, followed by a “latest news” section next to their social media channels, both of which letting the university communicate more directly to the public. Keeping similar things together let’s the university optimize how to show a lot at once without losing easy navigation!

  4. Middlebury College

    From a sheer design perspective, this is probably the boldest website on our list because its graphic interface visually equalizes all types of information by making each piece look like a nondescript bookend. This is a very compelling design because it’s highly interactive in an informative way: the bookends horizontally scroll with titles and images that individually pop up when moving the cursor over them. Core categories like admissions, academics, and student life are on a footer navigation bar so you can easily differentiate the fundamental college information from more emerging campus stories.

  5. New York University

    NYU’s approach is creatively horizontal. While it has the standard university header and footer bars for critical information, the first image visitors see is for their “get started” call to action. Their scholarship opportunities, career development, social media channels, and more are all grouped together in the centralized horizontal slider, which is easier to navigate and read then it would be vertically. They’re especially good about including questions based on news related to classroom and field research by active professors.

  6. St. John’s University

    St. John’s brings a highly visual mix of looping video and high resolution images to their site. Visitors are immediately brought to choose two things: information about schools and colleges or information about how to apply. A catholic university with a lot of tradition, it’s main campus in NYC and large student body benefits from their faithful and more global education brand. Academic pride is a big part of St. John’s culture, and it shows with each of its main colleges given equal homepage description space.

  7. Trinity University

    In terms of community-focused schools, Trinity’s site probably leans the most on the characterization. With 150 years of under the school’s belt, their homepage presents the school as an ensemble cast of students and professors singing together, playing sports, developing international ties, and being hard at work with mechanical innovation. “Apply Now” and “Visit Trinity” are great calls to action that visually reinforce the prestige and age of the university as buttons on the side of your browser’s scroll bar. They display testimonials from alumni and current students with high resolution profiles that support the communalism of their small student body.

View our newer and up-to-date list of the best college and university websites today.

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