Higher Education, Higher Expectations The State of U.S. University and College Websites

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1 Higher Education, Higher Expectations The State of U.S. University and College Websites WEBSITE STUDY U.S. Universities and Colleges WEB STUDY OVERVIEW Siteimprove used their Web Governance software to collect information from the websites of 61 U.S Universities & Colleges (30 National Universities* and 31 National Liberal Arts Colleges**). The findings are summarized in this study. ABOUT THE DATA IN THIS STUDY The data used for this study is limited to the first 1,000 pages of each website scanned. The actual number of errors/mistakes may, therefore, be higher than indicated. In cases where the website had less than 1,000 pages, the numbers were averaged for consistency in comparison. * ** THIS STUDY FOCUSES ON THE FOLLOWING AREAS: Broken Links Misspellings SEO Errors Accessibility Issues

2 Websites included in this study National Universities Princeton University Harvard University Yale University Columbia University Stanford University University of Chicago Massachusetts Institute of Technology Duke University University of Pennsylvania California Institute of Technology Dartmouth College Johns Hopkins University Northwestern University Washington University in St. Louis Cornell University Brown University University of Notre Dame Vanderbilt University Rice University University of California - Berkeley Emory University Georgetown University University of California - Los Angeles University of Virginia Carnegie Mellon University University of Southern California Tufts University Wake Forest University University of Michigan - Ann Arbor University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill National Liberal Arts Colleges Williams College Amherst College Swarthmore College Wellesley College Bowdoin College Pomona College Middlebury College Carleton College Claremont Mckenna College Haverford College Davidson College Vassar College United States Naval Academy Washington and Lee University Colby College Hamilton College Harvey Mudd College Wesleyan University Bates College Grinnell College Smith College Colgate University Oberlin College Macalester College Scripps College United States Military Academy Bryn Mawr College Colorado College United States Air Force Academy Kenyon College University of Richmond 2

3 Broken links A broken link can have a devastating effect on a visitor s website experience and, subsequently, the image of the organization behind the website. By fixing or removing broken links from your website, customers will be able to easily locate the products and information they seek, without running into frustrating roadblocks and dead ends. The 61 websites included in this study had an overall average of 328 broken links per site. The worst offender had 1,501 broken links, and the best had 13. Number of broken links Pages containing a broken link 1, % Best site Average Worst site On average, 32.8% of all pages scanned contained a broken link 3

4 MISSPELLINGS Because websites are the public face of your institution, misspellings can be extremely embarrassing, and damaging to your credibility. The number of misspellings below refers to the number of unique words misspelled, not the number of instances of a given misspelling. If a word is misspelled more than once on the site, it is counted as a single misspelling. Therefore, the number of instances may be significantly higher than these numbers reflect. The 61 websites included in this study had an average of 48 misspellings. The worst offender had 111 misspellings, and the best site had 4. Number of misspellings 111 Pages containing a misspelling % 4 Best site Average Worst site On average, 4.82% of all pages scanned contained a misspelling 4

5 SEO errors 92% of all adults rely on the Internet when beginning their search for products, services, knowledge, or information. This means that your website is likely to be how customers first interact with your organization. The challenge is to make sure that your audience is able to find you, and that search engines view your site as a reliable source of information. The way your website organizes and structures its content will have a significant impact on how it performs in web searches. Many organizations are spending big dollars on outside SEO agencies and consultants, with little transparency about the effect of their investment. Below is an analysis of some of the most common SEO errors found on websites, including: Duplicate Page Titles Missing Heading Tags (H1, H2 ) Missing XML Sitemap The 61 websites included in this study had an average of 104 SEO errors. The worst offender had 1,014 SEO errors, and the best site had 4. Number of SEO errors ,014 Best site Average Worst site Pages containing an SEO error 20.70% On average, 20.70% of all pages scanned contained an SEO error Average Best Worst % Duplicate Page Titles % average duplicates sitewide Missing Header Tags % of pages missing header tags Missing XML Sitemap % (44 out of 61) of sites were missing an XML Sitemap 5

6 ACCESSIBILITY issues 1 in 5 web users are living with some form of disability, ranging from hearing and vision impairments, to physical limitations and cognitive disorders. For these users, accessing information and interacting with your website may require them to use customized Internet browsers or specialized assistive devices that allow them to more easily navigate websites by scanning and interpreting a site s HTML code. Below is an analysis of some of the most common accessibility issues that disabled users encounter, including: Missing Image Alt Tag Missing Image Description Input Fields Missing Description Selection Boxes Missing Description The 61 websites included in this study had an average of 86 pages with accessibility issues. The worst offender had 300 pages with issues, and the best site had 3.* 3 Number of accessibility issues Best site Average Worst site Pages containing an accessibility issue 100% 35 On average, 100% of all pages scanned contained an accessibility issue *We only scanned the first 300 pages of each site, so for sites with more than 300 pages, the number of pages with errors may be greater than the data shows. Average Best Worst Page elements affected Missing Image Alt Tag % Missing Image Description % Input Fields Missing Description % Selection Boxes Missing Description % 6

7 See your performance Want to see how your website stacks up against the competition? Average Best Worst Broken Links 1,501 Average Best Worst Misspellings Average Best Worst SEO Errors 1,014 Average Best Worst Accessibility Issues 7

8 GET a free DEMO go.siteimprove.com/demo Who is Siteimprove? Siteimprove is the only web governance software that helps you better manage and maintain your website through quality assurance, accessibility, web analytics, SEO, and response all in one tool. siteimprove.com WSEDFFNA

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