Our Latest Report | Tell me a story, draw me in, but keep the Dean for later

27 January 2021

Our co-founder Andrew Crisp digests the findings from GenerationWeb 2021.

Twelve years ago, I wrote in our first GenerationWeb report with EFMD, ‘Don’t put the Dean on the home page’.

Too many schools felt that a picture, in those days almost always of a man, was somehow a selling point for their institution. It wasn’t that the Dean is unimportant, it’s just that a prospective student visiting the website for the first time, especially a 16 year old potential undergraduate tended to have other priorities.

Today that message about Deans is even more true, but for different reasons. This year’s GenerationWeb report is our first that only has screen grabs from mobile phones. In the 2016 report, more than 50% of participants for the first time said they used smartphones to first visit a business school website. Since that time, there have never been fewer than 60% using their smartphone, with this year’s figure being 62%.

The idea that a smiling photo of a Dean is the first thing that a prospective student sees on the home page of a business school website is nonsense. Of course, many will skip the home page having searched for specific information and been directed to a particular page by Google.

For those that do land on the school home page, they certainly want easy navigation and good search tools. The school websites that tend to score well in the study are also fast to load.

Increasingly site visitors also watch video on school websites. And they probably are looking for certain types of content. Other than course information, respondents in this year’s study prioritise rankings, accommodation, career services, open days and accreditation. As well as knowing what they might study, prospective students want to know about the student experience, especially where they might live, and what outcomes they can expect from their studies.

Perhaps more than anything else, the home page needs to start to tell a story about an institution, about what differentiates it and makes it somewhere a student wants to be. The home page needs to draw you in and make you want to know more about a business school.


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels



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