Considering that online users spend about 2.5 minutes and visit 2-3 pages per session, it’s important to make sure your college’s website stands out from your rivals online. Today, a well-planned digital strategy plays a vital role in an institution’s marketing strategies — especially considering younger generations’ growing dependence on technology.
Put simply, a well-designed website will help you engage current students, connect with prospective ones, and inform parents all at once. It gives you the opportunity to market school events, display course offerings, and showcase campus life. Your university’s website is your ultimate online brand statement and can be the defining factor for whether someone applies to your school.
At Morweb, we understand that there are a lot of elements that go into effective web design for higher ed institutions, sometimes complicating the design process. Through our industry-leading CMS, we help schools build stunning websites designed to connect with prospects and drive higher registration numbers. In turn, we know how to help colleges and universities create websites that stand out from their rivals, which is why we’ve pulled together a list of beautiful college websites.
In this guide, we’ll review 15 of the best college websites, including:
While exploring these examples, take note of which elements stand out to you so that you can incorporate them into your own design. Once you’ve developed an idea of how you’d like your design to look, make sure you have a sector-specific CMS like Morweb to simplify the development process and bring your vision to life.
Ready to gain inspiration for your college website? Let’s get started.
Located in Milwaukee, Alverno College is a Catholic, Franciscan college that has provided well-rounded liberal arts education for more than 130 years. With nearly 1,700 students and faculty members, this small college has developed a powerful website that effectively showcases its academics as well as its campus and student life.
Here are just a few of the most notable features on this college website:
Alverno College’s development team brought its vision to life with Morweb. Schools like this one rely on Morweb’s simple (yet powerful) website builder to expand their online presence and connect with more students.
Alverno College’s site perfectly reflects the school’s brand and communicates its offerings to new students. Powered by Morweb, they’re able to display images of hardworking students, promote course offerings, drive more prospects to their application form, and pique visitors’ interest.
Founded in 1869, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln is an educational institution of international stature. This university is a member of the Big Ten Conference and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges. Today, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln consistently ranks in the top tier of national research universities as they seek to broaden knowledge in science and the humanities.
University of Nebraska’s website is a prime example of a powerful yet simple design. It effectively showcases elements such as:
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s website stands out from other colleges and effectively displays the school’s prominence within the higher ed space. Instead of cramming a ton of visuals and text into a small space, their simple design gives users space to breathe. Ultimately, the design elements come together to create a cohesive, positive user experience.
Located in Maine, Bates College is a renowned institution that focuses on providing an engaging learning experience in a vibrant, dynamic, and accessible community. This college website fully captures the essence of their inclusivity from the moment a user lands on the homepage.
Bates College takes a similar approach to their college website as the University of Nebraska–Lincoln by keeping it simple and embracing white space, as well as using minimal navigation options to direct visitors to important content. They go beyond visual consistency and streamlined navigation with features like:
Bates College recognizes the importance of a strong college website and wastes no time getting down to business. With sufficient information regarding current school activities and helpful features to learn more about the campus, they provide value to prospective students and current ones alike.
Established in 1877, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is a private, nonprofit fine arts and design college that’s based in Providence, RI. Approximately 2,200 students from around the world are enrolled and engaged in the school’s liberal arts offerings and studio-based learning.
Rhode Island School of Design’s mission is to educate and inspire the next generation of artists and designers, and its college website exemplifies this goal perfectly with elements such as:
This college website was redesigned in-house and launched in 2011, and it was immediately recognized by some major players in the web design space. Just one year after being relaunched, RISD’s college website was named as a Webby Award honoree in the School/University category.
Established in 1938, Virginia Commonwealth University has a rich history that drives the community to be diverse, engaged, and ambitious. The university is located in Richmond, VA, and serves as a public research institution that’s dedicated to the success and well-being of its students, patients, faculty, staff, and community.
With more than 200 programs, this social work institution works to expand the boundaries of new knowledge and creative expression, further civic engagement, and ultimately solve society’s most complex challenges. The most effective elements of this college’s web design include:
As one of the leading schools for social work, VCU has developed a beautiful college website that matches up to its prestige. Filled with information about programs and the university’s rich history, it’s not hard to see why more than 30,000 students and nearly 200,000 alumni have chosen this university to call home.
Located in Indiana, the University of Notre Dame is a prestigious institution that offers nearly 50 international study programs for undergraduate and graduate students. This leading research university offers students a chance to pursue their academic endeavors in a unique scholarly community by pursuing a variety of majors and minors from Engineering to Global Affairs.
This school has historically sought to enrich Catholic intellectual and culture traditions and conveys this through its website. Here are a few ways Notre Dame’s university website connects with its visitors:
Launched in April 2012, this college website was designed by an in-house team. The fast-scrolling navigation and attention-grabbing photography give the site an elegant feel and develop a positive user experience, ultimately encouraging visitors to dive deeper and explore the website content.
Founded in 1821, the George Washington School of Design (GW) is located in historic Washington, D.C. Today, more than 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and 130 countries call this university home. They attend the school for the passionate faculty, diverse student groups, Division I athletics, once-in-a-lifetime internships, and inspiring service opportunities.
This college website displays all of this and more with an abundance of information aimed at prospective students. Plus, they feature several elements that foster a spirit of inclusivity and drive deeper engagement. Two of these elements include:
From academics and research to admissions and campus life, this university website houses all pertinent information that prospective students need to know in order to get started.
Ranked No. 14 on the 2018 Academic Ranking of World Universities, the University of Washington educates more than 54,000 students each year. Its mission is to turn ideas into positive impact, an ideology that’s rooted in deep optimism and a hunger to pursue progress.
UW offers a well-designed college website that houses plenty of information relating to its core mission. While they offer value through several elements on their site, two that stand out include:
Whether you’re an alumnus looking to support your alma mater or a high school student athlete deciding which school you’ll take your talent to, the UW makes sure you have all the information you need on their college website.
Located 25 miles west of Chicago, Wheaton College is an explicitly Christian, academically rigorous, and fully residential liberal arts college and graduate school. Established in 1860, this school aspires to provide excellence in Christian higher education. Today, this college offers more than 40 undergraduate degrees in the liberal arts and sciences as well as 18 graduate degrees in various other fields of study.
Through its site, Wheaton College puts students at the forefront by dedicating part of the site to athletics, displaying student recitals on an events calendar, and embedding social media feeds to showcase their stunning campus and stand-out students. There are several other notable elements on this college website, two of which are:
With students from more than 90 countries, Wheaton takes pride in its student body, and this is apparent on its website.
Oberlin College & Conservatory is a top-ranking liberal arts college that’s home to a world-class conservatory and a first-rate art museum. Built on a foundation of academic, artistic, and musical excellence, this institution offers the ideal place for students to express their artistic creativity.
On Oberlin College's website, they make sure they showcase their dedication and commitment to those three categories with features such as:
Even with the extensive details, there’s a prospective student inquiry form for visitors who find that they still have questions after exploring the site. The Oberlin development team made sure to conveniently place a CTA leading to this contact page in the navigation bar. This way, prospective students have everything they need to determine if Oberlin is the right fit for them.
As America’s first university, The University of Pennsylvania has a vast history that dates back to its founding in 1740. When developing the school’s web presence, the marketing team made sure their college website accurately represented its long-standing tradition of excellence.
On this university’s website, visitors can get a feel for campus life, explore education opportunities, learn about the school’s rich history, apply, and much more. Two of the most notable elements of this college’s website are:
UPenn’s website is a prime example of a college website that puts the user first. By pairing sufficient details with smooth navigation, readers can easily find whatever information they need without aimlessly clicking through the site.
Rooted in its mission to create an inclusive and hardworking community, Juniata College focuses on empowering students to discover their passions and develop their intelligence to take their academic understanding to new heights. This liberal arts college is dedicated to providing an academically rigorous and personally enriching experience to its students.
Juniata College website reflects this enriching experience with the following standout features:
Overall, this college’s website taps into readers’ emotions, connecting with them on a more personal level to inspire and drive them to take action. In turn, it effectively depicts a welcoming campus that potential students feel a part of even when online.
What began as a vision of an English-style undergraduate college and a German-style graduate research institute is now a prestigious university known as the University of Chicago. Since 1890, this school has worked to expand students’ knowledge and enrich human life.
Through its website, the University of Chicago showcases its ambition through detailed information paired with features like:
Originally launched in 2012, this college website was created in-house by the university’s IT and communication departments. Since then, the site has received recognition for its excellent designs, including two prestigious Webby Awards for the best overall school website and the Webby People’s Voice Award. This level of recognition has helped position The University of Chicago as an authority in the higher ed space.
From its proud history spanning more than two centuries, Middlebury College has emerged as one of the most highly-regarded liberal arts colleges in the United States. Among other leading colleges, Middlebury is unique in being a classic liberal arts college that also offers graduate and specialized programs operating around the world.
The school developed a website that expresses that uniqueness with standout features like:
Since its founding in 1800, Middlebury has sought to develop a distinct identity within the higher ed sector. With modern technology and a careful approach to web design, they’ve managed to effectively carry this identity over to the digital space.
Located in eastern Pennsylvania, Muhlenberg College is a liberal arts school that aims to develop independent critical thinkers who are intellectually agile. The school’s commitment to intellectual growth dates back to its founding in 1848.
Muhlenberg College strives for simplicity, which the marketing team effectively showcases through its web design. Here are a couple of the features that stand out on this college’s website:
By prioritizing simplicity and displaying compelling imagery, this school’s impactful design leaves a lasting impression on visitors, so when it comes time to choosing a college or generally supporting a university, Muhlenberg will immediately come to mind.
More than ever, a university’s website is its primary calling card. Most students start their search for schools online, and your college’s website is likely the first place they’ll come into contact with your institution. Make a lasting first impression by developing a highly-engaging, informative website that connects with students, prospects, families, and staff alike.
Gain inspiration from well-designed college websites like the ones in this article, so you can model your own after one that sticks out to you. Remember, a school-specific CMS like Morweb will eliminate a lot of the guesswork from the development process, because you can ensure you have access to all of the features that you need. That way, you can focus on producing content that appeals to your visitors.
Make sure to spend sufficient time selecting a college website builder that offers complete customization as well as any tools you need to set your school apart from the competition. In turn, you’ll make the most of your marketing dollars and reach more prospective students.
Now that you’ve successfully kicked off your college web design research, start mapping out your design. If you’d like to continue exploring best practices, explore these great resources that we’ve pulled together:
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