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July 14, 2009

School Website Design is Part of the Student Engagement Problem

In the first version of Red Rover's navigation bar, we included a 'Live Help' button (pictured below) that generated 5-8 sessions with students per day.

As more students joined Red Rover, we realized the 'Help' section needed to include more options other than just 'Live Help'. So we created a new 'Help' section (pictured below) and moved 'Live Help' under it.

Though we expanded the 'Help' options and 'Live Help' was still there, we went from 5-8 'Live Help' session per day to ZERO 'Live Help' sessions per day. Once 'Live Help' was moved, not a single student used the feature. It's not that an equal amount of traffic was dispersed to the other sections, but rather the entire 'Help' section was used less. I could say that our software just got better and thus students needed less help, but that's probably not the case.

With 'Live Help' directly on the main page we generated 5-8 sessions per day, but if the student had to click once more to use the feature it generated ZERO sessions per day. That's the difference one click deep on a website can make in terms of engagement.

So how many clicks does it take to get to your department's information on your school's website? Start at the homepage and literally count the number of clicks.

Each additional click means fewer students will actually see your content.

I know website design and UX design are not two more hats you're excited to put on over your 30 other hats, but as students consume more information online, our website design is becoming increasingly more important.


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