Are you planning to develop a platform for students? Or, perhaps, you already have one and want to drive more of your target audience to it?
Whether you’re running an online store or a learning platform, be warned: students can be quite exigent. Their standards are high when it comes to website structure, design, interactivity, and responsiveness. And if you don’t meet them, they’ll leave your platform to never return to it again.
Imagine your platform offers homework help by WritePaper to students. You need to make sure it comes across not just as trustworthy and reliable – it also has to tune into your audience’s spirit. This is how you show them you get them, their worries, needs, and preferences.
Sounds too abstract for now? Don’t worry: here are eight actionable ways to make your website appealing to students.
The students of today have grown up with the online world at their fingertips. And they, like no other demographic, are more susceptible to visual content.
Visuals communicate information faster than any text can. So, take a look at your platform’s copy. How much of it can be turned into visuals like infographics or charts? Where can you add icons or eye-catching illustrations?
Don’t forget about the color palette of your platform, either. If you want to appeal to students, it can’t come down to boring business blues. Use vibrant colors – yellow, orange, green, for example. (You can find a great palette for your website on Adobe Color or coolors.co.)
Students don’t have time to read all of the text on your website – not unless they find it worth their time. For that, they scan the page to get the gist of its content and its quality.
So, how do you convince them your platform is worth sticking around at? Here are four simple rules you should stick to when you (or whoever you hire to do it) write the copy:
- Don’t ever have walls of text anywhere on your platform;
- Communicate your message in as few words as possible;
- Keep the information bite-sized, transmitted two-three short paragraphs at a time (maximum);
- Add tables of content wherever appropriate;
- Break down your copy with headings, subheadings, and lists.
All of that isn’t just great for engaging your target audience. The readability, structure, and quality of your copy matter for your SEO ranking, too!
The first screen refers to the first thing your audience sees when they go to your website. The homepage’s first screen is crucial since it’s where most users land. But other pages’ first screens matter almost as much.
So, what should you put on your first screen to hook your users? Here are four pieces of advice for you:
- Make sure it’s instantly clear for your user where they are and what they can do on your platform. Try to keep it to one sentence;
- Have only one main element that draws the eye of the user;
- If you add an illustration or a photo, opt for the one that would surprise your user or make them smile;
- You can also add an auto-played video. Just make sure it has powerful first five seconds and is short (up to a minute).
You don’t want your platform to be just one of the many. You want it to stand out, to be memorable. But what does it mean in practice?
Here are just five ways you can make your platform feel one-of-a-kind – and start your relationship with the visitor on the right foot:
- Personify your brand – i.e., create a character or mascot to represent it;
- Make your visual style unexpected – and be consistent in using it;
- Find your brand’s tone of voice – and make sure you speak the audience’s language;
- Avoid stock footage and photos – nothing screams fake like them;
- Make it about them – speak to your visitors directly and sincerely.
Students have been online practically since they were born. So, they have certain expectations regarding their user experience. If you want them to enjoy browsing your website, you have to meet those expectations.
What do those expectations include? Here are just ten examples:
- All the information is easily accessible;
- You can search the contents of the website;
- Navigation is intuitive: i.e., menu items have clear, expectable names, such as “About” and “Contact Us”;
- Links’ style makes it clear that those are links;
- There’s enough white space between page elements;
- Button links are clickable when you hover anywhere over the button (not just the text);
- Your website loads fast enough (no longer than 2 seconds);
- The layout remains consistent throughout the website;
- You don’t revamp the interface every six months;
- Fonts don’t make reading any more difficult than it should be.
It’s important not just for students – over half of all website traffic comes from mobile devices (it has since 2019). However, young people aged 16-25 spend significantly more time browsing the web on their mobile devices than on PCs, laptops, or even tablets: 4.1 vs. 3.3 hours, respectively.
So, how well your platform looks on a smartphone can be more important than its desktop version. But it’s not just the look of it: it also has to be easy to use on a mobile device, especially if it has a lot of interactive elements.
How do you make your website mobile-friendly? One way to do so is the “mobile-first, desktop second” design and development approach. You start developing your platform with the mobile version and then move on to making the desktop one based on it.
This piece of advice might not apply to every student-oriented platform out there, of course. But if you run an online store or sell your online courses to students, don’t skip out on these techniques. They’re not as complicated to introduce as you might think!
But how can you add gamification to your platform, exactly? Here are five things you can do:
- Let your users collect points by doing certain things (and have nice bonuses to exchange those points for, too!);
- Create a badge system and reward your visitors with badges for certain actions/achievements;
- Add interactive modules to your website (quizzes, puzzles, surveys, or even mini-games!);
- Put up a public or private leaderboard on your platform;
- Add progress bars and levels if appropriate.
Everyone likes freebies and special offers – but students love them. So, if you want to hook your target audience and convert them into your active users or customers, don’t bombard them with sales pitches from the get-go. Instead, lure them in with a free trial, sample, discount, or gift.
Exclusivity is what matters most here. If you want to appeal to students, make those discounts or gifts student-only.
Want to take it a step further? You can boost your engagement by:
- Running a contest;
- Holding a giveaway;
- Offering free downloadable content.
Students are a particular demographic to market to. They have certain expectations towards the user experience, so you have to follow the conventions. They are swarmed with tons of content every day, so you can’t expect the luxury of an eight-second attention span from them.
That said, none of that means it’s impossible to make a platform appealing to students. You just need to understand their preferences, likes, and dislikes – and act accordingly.
How do you know all of that? Ask them – that’s what UX interviews are for!