UCL News


UCL in top three UK university websites

27 July 2016

UCL's website is in the top three UK university websites in a new ranking by digital industry specialists Bray Leino Yucca.

UCL homepage screenshot

UCL's website was placed third out of 126 university websites in the ranking published in 'Universities Challenged', which incorporated the views of prospective students as well as a range of technical assessments. 

The company asked prospective students to score their first impressions of the visual design of universities' homepages, considering factors including structure, colours, amount of text and typeface selection. 

The specialists also ranked the websites according to authority, quality and quantity of links to the site, visibility, site speed and security. 

The UCL website performed particularly strongly in terms of visibility, which relates to the organic (that is, unpaid) search engine rankings that a website achieves. The visibility score took into account visibility on mobile devices as well as on desktop machines, given the particular importance of the former in attracting a young audience. 

As the report notes, strong visibility is achieved through attention to the user experience on mobile devices as well as the production of great content - whether written copy, multimedia or photography.

The UCL homepage design was the product of a joint project between UCL Digital Communications (which manages the homepage content), UCL Digital Presence (responsible for homepage technical maintenance) and an external agency. 

"This is a fantastic endorsement of the homepage design, which was informed by a wide range of research involving prospective students and other types of users, as well as analytics and industry best practice," said Clare Bowerman, Head of UCL Communications. 

"Our own research shows that the new responsive design led to a 65% increase in the proportion of users rating the mobile experience as good/very good and a 35% increase in the proportion of respondents rating it easy/very easy to use. Its continued high ranking two years on is testament to the team's sustained production of high quality, innovative content such as 360 video and long-form feature articles, as well as the technical commitment of our colleagues in Digital Presence."

Susan Farrell, Head of UCL Digital Presence, said: "It's very positive that UCL is in a good position in terms of search engine optimisation, content and mobile visibility. This means we have a sound foundation as we move forward with digital transformation. 

"However, it's vital to remember the new report also highlights the importance of websites in the new, more competitive higher education funding landscape. There is much work to be done to ensure we retain our competitive edge and create a digital environment that truly reflects our aspirations."

Related links

Digital Communications blog: homepage redesign and new digital activities

Digital Presence: new content management system project

'Universities Challenged' (Bray Leino Yucca)