Best and worst of sector's websites revealed

The best and worst performing higher education institution websites in the UK have been ranked.

February 22, 2014

According to the quarterly Sitemorse ranking, which is based on more than 238 million checks assessing everything from websites’ functionality and response time to their coding quality, Warwickshire College, Bishop Grosseteste University and Scotland’s Rural College currently boast the three best sites in the country.

At the other end of the scale, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland was declared the worst, with the University of East Anglia and Anglia Ruskin University both finishing in the bottom 10.

The biggest climber was Buckinghamshire New University, which soared 247 places to 86th, while Weymouth College plummeted 257 places to 317th. The audit assesses a total of 339 colleges and universities offering higher education qualifications.

“The importance of a strong website when attracting students cannot be underestimated,” said Sitemorse chief executive Lawrence Shaw.

“It’s not like using the local council’s website, which is often the only source of information and you have no choice but to use it. There is a huge range of universities, and with the fees they are now charging, young people will expect their sites to work well.”

The Open University, which offers a huge range of online education programmes, also saw its website finish in the bottom 10, falling 193 places when compared to the previous quarter.

A spokesman for The Open University said that the institution was “constantly measuring and monitoring” the quality of its websites.

“In addition to driving improvements to our current site, the results of this monitoring have been central to the development of a new Open University web presence due to launch in the coming months,” she said.

“The new site will not only continue to be centred around the user experience, but also have greater focus on the sort of technical web standards monitored by Sitemorse, so we look forward to future survey results with great interest.”

The full results can be viewed here.

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Reader's comments (1)

An excellent piece of research demonstrating conclusively that if all you do is measure website performance based on technical conformity, the results will be... well.... pretty dull really. Technical performance is a baseline measure and is useful to that extent only. It's an MOT test, but doesn't have a lot to do with the real emotional experience that determines whether your site is effective or not. For that you need proper User eXperience (UX) research with large numbers of prospective students and other users.

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