Is your campus Web site ready for mobile? College-bound students are researching colleges via tablets and smart phones

This graphic shows representations for the percentage of prospective college students that say they have access to mobile devices, what percentage say they look at college websites via mobile devices, and what the top types of information they say they're interested in finding via mobile.

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Are prospective students going mobile when they search for colleges online? According to the latest E-Expectations data, the answer is increasingly becoming “yes.”

Since the 2010 study, the E-Expectations project has tracked how many prospective students have viewed college Web sites on mobile devices. Those numbers have gone from 23 percent in 2010 and 14 percent in 2011 to 52 percent this year. With more and more students using smart phones and tablets, those numbers will surely increase in the coming years.

For campuses, this means that optimizing key content for mobile viewing is no longer optional but mandatory if institutions want to provide the best Web experience for mobile users. At a minimum, pages on academic programs, cost and aid, and admissions should be optimized for mobile usage.

At the same time, when students were asked why they did not view a college site on a mobile device, 52 percent said they preferred looking at sites on a PC or laptop. So for now, campus Web sites will need to serve both PC-based and mobile users.

The very nature of mobile optimization is also shifting, as we may be moving away from separate mobile templates to responsive design that recognizes the browsing platform and adjusts accordingly. What works best for your campus? Drop me an e-mail and we can discuss mobile options and strategies.

About the author

Stephanie Geyer directs website development and e-communications projects for Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

Ms. Geyer has served institutions such as the University of Arizona, Saint Louis University (MO), and The University of Findlay (OH). Her Web consultation services are based on current best practices in enrollment management and are frequently integrated with recruitment and marketing consultations and market research projects.

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