Westminster Excited to Announce Launch of New Website
A quick Google search will instantly pull up virtually any college or university website in the world, each highlighting the institution’s best attributes. With the intention of harnessing this immediacy and benefiting from this globally competitive environment, Westminster College is excited to announce the launch of its new website: www.wcmo.edu.
The site is designed primarily with prospective students in mind, and with good reason. Statistics reveal that more than 80 percent of prospective students utilize a college’s website to decide where to stake their claim on the future. As a result, after careful deliberation, Westminster began to build a new site in the summer of 2018, with the intention of incorporating its original site, www.westminster-mo.edu, into the new domain.
Chris Cox, Web Developer in the Department of Marketing and Strategic Communications, has worked on the site from the beginning of the project after he was hired in July 2018. He says www.wcmo.edu focuses less on information for the general population and more on informative and personal stories that prospective students will find pertinent.
“The previous site was more of a news platform that catered to everyone, including the internal Westminster audience, whereas this site is specifically built to highlight why our college differs from other colleges out there,” he says.
Glance at www.wcmo.edu, and see how the site artfully reveals what traditionally has set Westminster apart since 1851: rigorous academics steeped in a tradition of the liberal arts, a small student:faculty ratio, supportive relationships with faculty members, and unique career-networking opportunities. Strong stories testifying to how Westminster helped alumni find their purpose — the power in purpose — illustrate Westminster’s unique strengths.
Lana Poole, Vice President of Development and Strategic Communications, says the site’s cleaner, more user-friendly design optimizes the website for peak performance on both desktops and mobile devices, whereas the previous site was composed of too many pages, broken links, and repetitive information. Google rewards high-performing, efficient websites by boosting their search engine rankings; therefore, an institution with a cumbersome site will not perform as well in a search.
With initial changes to Westminster’s older site, the College’s average Google search-engine position increased from 42 in October 2017 to 7.6 in January 2019. “This positioning is critical in terms of our ability to reach anyone who uses Google as a means for exploring where they hope to go to college,” Cox says. “Being 42nd in search results means we are on page 4, whereas being anywhere under 10 puts us on the first page.”
Cox cites an article by Forbes and Moz, a search engine optimization (SEO) software company, in his discussion. He adds that the first page of a Google search captures 71 percent or higher of search-traffic clicks. Second-page results come in at below 6 percent of all clicks. Cox says the SEO of www.wcmo.edu is much more robust than the SEO of the previous site. And the new site ensures that it takes no more than three clicks to arrive at desired information, which is an industry standard.
Poole says her department will be measuring the overall effectiveness of www.wcmo.edu. Overall bounce rate, how long visitors stay on the site, where visitors go within www.wcmo.edu, and how many clicks it takes for visitors to achieve their search successfully will be tracked carefully. “This site is the core of our marketing strategy and is designed to reach the most people in the most effective manner possible,” Poole explains. “It’s one of our greatest recruiting tools, and we take it very seriously, because absolutely everything we’re doing is aimed at driving enrollments.”
The sleeker design is also reflected in the site’s new URL: www.wcmo.edu is easier to use and remember. “It’s worth noting that we don’t anticipate any difficulties in transitioning from www.westminster-mo.edu to www.wcmo.edu, since we have owned both addresses for some time,” Poole reflects.
Finally, Cox emphasizes that although the site is brand new, it will remain an ongoing project that will receive regular, careful attention from the Department of Marketing and Strategic Communications. “We have some exciting developments that will take place in the near future,” Cox says, adding, “This site wasn’t launched to be one-and-done. It’s going to be a living, breathing canvas.”
For more information on www.wcmo.edu, please contact Lana Poole, Vice President of Development and Strategic Communications, at Lana.Poole@westminster-mo.edu.