A university or college website is often the first point of contact. Therefore, it must be user-friendly, engaging, and accessible. 

A Higher education website is a primary communication channel between institutions and prospective students, offering a digital gateway for obtaining information and accessing resources.

With student experiences at the forefront, higher education institutions must ensure their websites attract and retain students and quality staff, win grants and funding, market themselves, and so forth.

However, students need help with Higher education websites, and institutions must consider these for a smoother user experience.

This blog post will explore the challenges and Issues students face on higher education websites.

  • Navigation Issues
  • Accessibility Concerns
  • Information Overload
  • Mobile Responsiveness
  • Outdated Content
  • Communication Barriers
  • Technical Issues
  • Security Concerns

Let’s explore each.

Navigation Issues

Navigation is the most essential part of your website. Users will get frustrated and leave the website if the navigation needs to be more apparent. Consistent navigation labels need to be clarified. 

Complex higher education website design can overwhelm students, making finding relevant information difficult. Simplifying the structure ensures a more intuitive browsing experience, enabling seamless navigation.

Poorly designed user interfaces hinder user interactions, causing frustration. User-friendly interfaces prioritize clarity and ease of use, driving engagement for students accessing higher education websites.

Here are 6 best practices to create higher education website navigation that users and search engines will love.

  • Planning the pages on your site into a sitemap
  • Group those pages to create a site hierarchy/information architecture
  • Build navigation elements around that hierarchy
  • Avoid blending the navigation by creating some visual separation
  • Call-to-action buttons must be clear and prominent
  • Mobile responsive to deliver the best user experience

Consistent and descriptive navigation labels facilitate a smoother browsing experience, enabling students to access the desired information effortlessly.

Accessibility Concerns

Accessibility concerns refer to the barriers that make it difficult or impossible for disabled users to access, navigate, or engage with your website content.

Some of the most common accessibility issues students face include:

  • The absence of features like screen reader compatibility can exclude students with disabilities, hindering their access to educational resources.
  • Inadequate support for differently-abled students creates barriers, limiting their ability to participate fully in the academic environment.
  • Lack of inclusivity leads to unequal access to information and educational opportunities.

Follow these steps to help your website meet accessibility best practices:

  • Prepare websites for screen readers, including defining the site’s language, changing the order, and adding alt text to images.
  • Organize the site structure by adding tags, including headings (H1), second-level headings (H2), paragraphs, lists, quotes, images, etc.
  • To increase website accessibility, use specific color contrast ratios between text, background, and user interface components.
  • Choose clear fonts, reduce unnecessary motion, and enable visual indicators to add focus to your client sites automatically.
  • Set the site language, for example, “English – United States,” so that assistive technologies can interpret your site correctly.
  • Make the website accessibility statement easy to find on their sites by linking it to a visible button.

For example, visually impaired students relying on screen readers may miss important information conveyed through images, hindering their comprehension and engagement with the content. 

To address this challenge, you can add alternative text to the point, short and descriptive, so that visually impaired users can read and understand what the image is all about.

Information Overload

Excessive web page content overwhelms users, making it challenging to absorb essential details. Prioritizing and organizing content enhances clarity and user engagement. The abundance of content can lead to confusion, increased stress, and reduced efficiency in decision-making.

Difficulty in finding relevant information due to disorganized content reduces navigation efficiency, leading to frustration. Implementing clear navigation structures and search functionalities simplifies information retrieval for students.

To streamline content on higher Ed websites, you need to consider change management strategies for higher Ed websites

Utilize concise and organized formats, employ clear headings, incorporate intuitive navigation menus, and implement practical search functionality to enhance user experience. 

Focused content and thoughtful design reduce information overload, allowing students to access information more efficiently.

Mobile Responsiveness

The number one reason your higher education website might fail to work on a mobile device is that it needs to be mobile-responsive. If your website works well on mobile phones, people are more likely to use it and spend more time on it. 

Students need mobile responsiveness to overcome numerous challenges. If your website is mobile-friendly, it can positively impact your user experience, engagement, and enrollment. 

That’s why ensuring your website is easy to use on phones is vital to keep higher education stakeholders interested and engaged.

Students accessing websites on mobile devices may encounter distorted layouts, unreadable text, or dysfunctional features. This hinders communication, class updates, and resource access, limiting the effectiveness of the digital learning experience. 

Additionally, non-responsive websites may deter prospective students who rely heavily on mobile devices for research.

According to Statista, the number of mobile users worldwide in 2025 is projected to reach 7.49 billion. Smartphone users expect a seamless browsing experience without zooming in and out to view content.

Follow these best practices to make your higher education website mobile responsive.

  • Responsive design implementation
  • Mobile-friendly navigation menus
  • Compressed and optimized media files
  • Prioritized and condensed content
  • Touch-friendly buttons and interfaces
  • Streamlined forms for mobile input
  • Fast loading times through optimization
  • Compatibility with various mobile browsers
  • Mobile-specific testing and quality assurance
  • Accessibility features tailored for mobile users.

Moreover, you can take inspiration from some of the best school website designs and how they ensure mobile responsiveness.

Outdated Content

Risks associated with outdated information on higher education websites can misguide students. It diminishes the website’s credibility and the institution’s reputation, as prospective students and stakeholders may question the reliability of the provided information. Students relying on outdated content may need clarification or make uninformed choices, negatively impacting their experience.

Regular updates on higher education websites are essential to ensure accuracy, relevance, and reliability. Timely information helps prospective and current students make informed decisions about courses, events, and resources.

Here are strategies for maintaining up-to-date content on your higher education website:

  • Conduct in-depth competitor analysis 
  • Refresh old content and design on your website
  • Get rid of obsolete & no-longer-relevant posts
  • Analyze your target keywords and incorporate them
  • Update your website functionality

Maintaining up-to-date content enhances communication and transparency and sustains a positive online reputation for the institution. Consistent updates also reflect the institution’s commitment to providing current and reliable information and building trust among the academic community and stakeholders.

Communication Barriers

Barriers to communication on higher education websites can create issues in the information flow between institutions and students.

Critical updates, announcements, and event details may be overlooked or missed when communication channels are insufficient, leading to a disconnect between the university and its stakeholders.

Addressing this challenge is essential to establishing effective two-way communication and maintaining a cohesive relationship between the university and its stakeholders. Clear communication reduces confusion and facilitates access to critical information, academic guidelines, and updates, enabling students to make informed decisions.

User-friendly communication tools on higher education websites simplify information distribution, create interactive spaces for collaboration, and enhance the student experience.

For example:

  • Email Newsletters: Regular newsletters provide concise updates on events, deadlines, and resources, offering a centralized source for information and promoting consistent communication.
  • Integrated Social Media Feeds: Embedding social media feeds connects the community in real-time, facilitating quick communication and an interactive environment, enhancing student engagement and participation.
  • Webinars and Virtual Q&A Sessions: Hosting online sessions allows direct communication, providing a platform for students to ask questions and receive immediate responses, creating an interactive discussion space.

Technical Issues

One of the common complaints students have about higher education websites is related to technical issues. Technical issues on higher education websites, such as slow loading times and compatibility problems with different browsers, can significantly impact user experience. 

Slow loading times frustrate users, leading to disengagement and potential abandonment. Ensuring quick loading enhances accessibility and user satisfaction.

Compatibility issues across browsers may result in distorted layouts or dysfunctional features, limiting accessibility for some users. Addressing these technical challenges involves optimizing website performance for faster loading and conducting thorough cross-browser testing to ensure a seamless user experience.

Here are some key strategies to address students’ technical challenges on higher education websites.

  • Choose a reliable website hosting provider
  • Set up regular backups
  • Use website monitoring tools
  • Optimize website performance
  • Implement website security measures
  • Manage traffic spikes effectively
  • Schedule routine maintenance

Mitigating technical issues is essential to maintaining a reliable and user-friendly website, supporting communication and access to educational resources for students, faculty, and stakeholders.

Security Concerns

Even after employing all the techniques for avoiding downtime, unexpected security incidents can still happen. Inadequate cybersecurity measures on higher education websites pose severe risks.

Student and faculty data vulnerabilities can lead to unauthorized access, identity theft, and financial fraud. Breaches compromise institutional integrity, erode trust, and incur legal consequences. Intellectual property theft, ransomware attacks, and disruptions to online learning are additional threats.

Higher education institutions can avoid web security threats by implementing cybersecurity policies and processes, deploying leading technology solutions, and ensuring users follow best practices, including

  • Scanning for malware and malicious activity
  • Ensuring all devices, software, and business tools are up to date
  • Enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA)
  • Creating backups of valuable data and storing it in secure locations
  • Implementing firewalls to monitor, detect, filter, and restrict web traffic
  • Conducting regular security awareness training with employees

Financial losses, regulatory penalties, and prolonged recovery periods highlight the need for cybersecurity measures to safeguard personal and institutional information in the digital space.

Final words:

Digitalization in higher education has altered how students learn, professors teach, and institutions operate.

Complex website structures, poorly designed interfaces, and inconsistent navigation labels can confuse and hinder information. Accessibility concerns, such as the lack of features for differently-abled students, contribute to exclusion and limit engagement.

Outdated information poses risks, potentially misleading students and eroding trust in the institution. Technical issues, like slow loading times and compatibility problems, disrupt access to online resources.

Now that you know all the challenges students encounter on Higher Ed websites, you can address them promptly. 

By prioritizing critical stakeholders of the higher education website, optimizing website functionality, and integrating technological advancements, higher education institutions can create digital platforms that enhance accessibility, engagement, and user experience.