Personas: Student Life website

Content Strategy Recommendations

Introduction

Research has shown that the non-academic aspects of student life play a huge role in attracting a prospective student. Campus lifestyle plays a part in attracting them to enroll, have a satisfying experience while a student, and maintain loyalty after graduation. The purpose of the Student Life section of the Kent State University website is to support students’ needs and desires outside of class. The Student Life and Campus Safety sections of the site are currently not well organized: a patchwork of links, images, and sections that could do a better job of meeting site visitors’ expectations. 

Visitor Personas

We identified the four top-priority audiences for this section of the site: 

  • new undergraduate students
  • Parents of students
  • Current on-campus undergraduates
  • Online graduate students

Based on observation and research, we found that these audiences had many needs and goals in common. We created a persona for each of these groups that summarized these desires. The following is a summary of the kinds of content that would resonate with these people.

Graduate students
To an older graduate student, balancing work, family, and school assignments seems impossible sometimes. They will tolerate a lot of this stress because of the perceived benefit to their career when they graduate.
Current undergraduates
Undergraduates are focused on making the most of their education so they have good job prospects when they graduate. While they are busy, they want to be comfortable and enjoy their time in school. Time to relax with friends between studying is important. 
Parents of prospective students
Parents of students are very busy with their own lives, yet want to take on a lot of the burden of college research and applications. They worry about helping their child make the right choices. 
Prospective undergraduate students
These are young people in high school or who have recently graduated. They are still living at home, about to live on their own for the first time. They want to be independent, but feel insecure about that, and want someone to lay out the options for them. Typically, they have a lot to think about and their attention spans are short. They want to enjoy their 4 years and are more likely to trust college social media channels than promotional text on the site.

University Business goals

Kent State Student Life program staff feel overworked and short of time. The technical side of managing the CMS is more time-consuming than it should be. They also are not necessarily writers or editors. They have very little time to actually post and manage content—most of their day is spent managing the student programs.

Needs

  • Connect students with clubs and student organizations across different subsites
  • Communicate a commitment to safety
  • Support, communication,  and training from the IT department
  • Simple to use CMS that they are familiar with, no changes
  • Knowing what content is most popular, and highlighting it
  • Having a regular schedule for new content, a content management policy 
  • Page profiles or templates for safety alerts and a way to post them as timely notifications
  • Know how to implement accessibility
  • Integration with other sections of the KSU web site

Recommendations

  • Information organization. Students and parents both are busy and trying to multitask, but for different reasons. They should be treated as if they have attention deficits. Many of the students actually do suffer from ADHD and are sensitive to information overload. Home page layouts should be minimalist and have a simple, uncluttered feel. Highlight priority items without distractions from secondary items. 
  • Safety alerts. Students and parents are very concerned about security. Web editors should have discussions with IT about how to post timely and regular safety updates to the site.
  • Content silos. Editors should be able to populate content across different sections of the larger site. Technology should make this simpler, not more complex.
  • Content calendar. Make it clear where content is coming from and when. There could be regular schedules for each type of content to be posted so a program manager knows what to expect.
  • Analytics. Content editors should have access to analytics so they know what pages are most popular, and get feedback so they know how to make important business content more visible. 
Project produced  while a student project at Kent State University UXD program. The Persona Experience Framework is by Brand Therapy. 

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