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UC's digital front door gets makeover

Refreshed university homepage enhances experience for users, particularly prospective students

The University of Cincinnati launched a new homepage last week, which now includes a virtual visit feature that allows families to have a look around the campus Forbes called "one of the world's most beautiful" while also social distancing. 

UC’s virtual tour provides 360-degree video and virtual reality experiences around campus and into residence halls, classrooms and more. In the last 30 days, engagement on the tour is up 258% including more than 3,700 visits.

“For many students, their campus visit is the make or break moment in their college decision process,” said Linden Pechette, director of admissions, student engagement and marketing at UC. “Once these recent changes began to take place, we had to make sure this tool was as easy to find and use as possible.” 
 

UC virtual tour stop near University Pavilion

The UC virtual tour includes a guided and interactive platform that includes 360-degree video and virtual reality experiences around campus.

UC’s admissions team also launched ZeeMee April 3, a social media app that allows college-bound students to meet one another as well as engage with current Bearcats. Within 48 hours, 2,739 of UC’s admitted students joined and engaged in several thousand chats.

Although our work looks very different, all of these enhancements to our online presence have allowed us to be a reliable resource to our students and their families during this uncertain time.

Linden Pechette, director of admissions, student engagement and marketing at UC

“Although our work looks very different, all of these enhancements to our online presence have allowed us to be a reliable resource to our students and their families during this uncertain time,” said Pechette.

Digital never more crucial

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for universities in showcasing themselves to prospective students, and this content affords UC the ability to meet our audience’s needs," said Jeremy Martin, director of digital in UC's Marketing + Communications division. "The university’s web presence has always been a front door for our audiences, but that has never been more true than now."

In addition to accelerating the homepage project to meet the needs of a public who is largely self-isolating, Martin's team has been working on a comprehensive refresh of uc.edu, with this as the third significant makeover of the homepage since 2016.
 

Image depicts top of the uc.edu homepage, including UC's MainStreet

The UC homepage includes a looping video that takes visitors through a series of stunning vignettes that showcase the campus as well as the city of Cincinnati, Bearcats athletics and UC’s arts and research.

Behind the scenes, UC's new site is also using custom interactions to serve tailored content to users, effectively moving from mass communication to peronalized communication. This function allows the university to not only recognize a prospective student but provide reminders about important admissions dates or even focus on features related to their academic interest. Speaking of academic interests, the program finder — a favorite among prospective students — allows visitors to immediately search and compare more than 800 major and program options at UC.

Visitors will now find a 10-second looping video at the top of the new page where a series of stunning vignettes showcase the campus as well as the city of Cincinnati, Bearcats athletics and UC’s arts and research. All elements combine to indicate an institution moving forward into what’s next, a nod to UC's Next Lives Here strategic direction. 

"Our goals for the homepage are streamlined navigation, clear and direct calls to action for prospective students, modern aesthetics and accessible content for all users," said Martin. "Over the last several years, UC's web focus has shifted from a repository of information and internal functions to an inbound user experience — a shift from informing to differentiating and persuading."

Scrolling the new homepage reveals top-level university news, a program finder and special call-outs for co-op, the city of Cincinnati and innovation.
 

A UC student engaged in study at UC

An image of the homepage call-out for cooperative education celebrates UC's ranking as No. 1 in the nation for co-op among public universities.

"There are qualities that differentiate UC from its competitors, and the homepage highlights three of them — co-op, our proximity to the urban core and innovation," said Martin.

Overall, he says, the homepage shows the impact of a UC education by telling the varied stories of students, faculty, staff, alumni and researchers who are putting quality education into action.

Impact Lives Here

The University of Cincinnati is leading public urban universities into a new era of innovation and impact. Our faculty, staff and students are saving lives, changing outcomes and bending the future in our city's direction. Next Lives Here.

Stay up on all UC's COVID-19 stories, read more #UCtheGood content, or take a UC virtual visit and begin picturing yourself at an institution that inspires incredible stories.