News Roundup — Higher Education Digital Marketing

Ideas & Insights from Research & Design
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Ideas & Insights for February 2018

You have digital objectives to meet, and limited time to stay in the loop on how best to implement your online marketing. We can help — here's our latest monthly roundup of industry articles and tools that we believe to be valuable for your work in higher-ed:


  • 2018 Predictions for Higher Education: non-traditional learners, augmented reality (AR) learning, learning analytics. Via eCampusNews (pg. 13 on).
    How will these forward-thinking ideas and trends impact your school?
  • Leverage technology to enhance 'Human' experience... not just 'customer experience.' Via WARC.
    "Personalization" and treating somebody like a human are two very different things. Strategy and continuous improvement are important in skillfully combining things that can be automated while maintaining a personal relationship with the clients, the students.
  • Every website has a small set of tasks that deliver a huge amount of value. What are those long-necks for your school? Via Aaron Rester.
    A slightly modified version of the Pareto Principle applies to most websites: on average, 25% of a site's effects will be generated by 5% of causes, and 60% of effect from 20% of causes. Higher Ed politics often, inadvertently, places roadblocks to focusing on that vital set of small tasks the site visitor is after.
  • Better enrollment data — a new and improved IPEDS. Via EduVentures.
    Schools can now gain more insight as to the trends and motivations behind non-traditional students that dropout, transfer, or re-enroll in your school.
  • Offboarding in the Online World — what are offboarding opportunities for university site visitors? Via Smashing Magazine.
    We love focusing on small interactions like these that underscore a continuous improvement model of refining and improving each and every interaction with visitors, thereby creating long-term relationships.


  • Google announces that starting July 2018 mobile page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches. Via Google Webmaster Central Blog.
    We already knew page speed was affecting desktop searches… now it's also finally affecting mobile searches. How well is your university site performing?
  • The Ultimate Digital Clean-Up Checklist: Are You Prepared For The New Year? Via the Smashing Magazine.
    A great resource for continuous improvement, especially given Google's recent announcement about mobile page speed affecting mobile searches.
  • Why CSS Grid is better than Bootstrap for creating complex layouts (NOTE: we have strong experience with Bootstrap, but the power of native CSS Grid is creating new opportunities). Via the Hackernoon.
    For more complex sites, like those found for universities, the optimal layout and UI for end-users might be very different between mobile and desktop views. Offering the best solution through a markup-heavy framework like Bootstrap is challenging and hackish at times, whereas CSS Grid makes it easy and requires less resources in human skill (javascript wizardry) and server load.
  • Overload of elements on a page, and how good ghost button design can help. Via the Smashing Magazine.
    School deans and supervisors are asking you to place more links on the homepage, and make them all buttons. You know that the more calls-to-action a page has, the less successful and user-friendly it is. This is where Ghost buttons (transparent, bordered buttons) can be a win-win tool, allowing more calls-to-action for resources and context, while not distracting from the primary (solid color button) call-to-action on the page. This other article makes a case against ghost buttons, but in this second article it's contrasting solid vs. ghost design, instead of combining them appropriately.

For Fun

  • The Laws of UX — a collection of the maxims and principles that designers can consider when building user interfaces.
  • Sonarwhal — an Open-Source, Community-Driven Linting Tool.
  • Carbon — create and share beautiful images of your source code.
  • Developer infatuation with Chrome is not good — because competition between browsers is good. Via Chris Krycho.

Missed Last Roundup?

  • Read the latest on how to maximize design sprints, why higher ed needs design thinking, mobile disruptor of the year, interface myths, weak signifiers in flat design, how to delight users by designing the empty states, and more.

Research & Design is a design and technology company. We direct our focus to tackling problems within higher-education—working with colleges, universities, and companies serving higher-education institutions—to solve problems through digital communication.

At our core, we are focused on solving problems through clear, concise websites, applications, campaigns, and digital communication. We believe in design as a way of thinking and problem-solving that can be applied to almost any challenge.