I did some research on research landing pages. Why? Because Research is typically the topic of a top-level landing page on most university sites, and I wanted to get a sense of the content strategy for these pages.
You may already know that Carnegie classifies 108 universities as having very high research activity (RU/VH). I looked at about 17.5% of these by randomly visiting 19 homepages and navigating to the research landing page on each one. Here’s a quick summary of what I found:
- 10 include navigation to information about student research; most of these use the “undergraduate research” label.
- Only four use infographics or type for bragging points or to highlight key pieces of information.
- Only four include video.
- Some have a presence on social media: 5 use Twitter (@AUSResearch, @CU_UndergradRes, @osuresearch, @umichresearch, and @uvavpr); 2 have Facebook pages: OSU Research and ASU Research Matters; and one, ASU, uses Instagram.
- 13 include links or content for research centers and institutes.
- 16 link to internal content about research administration.
- The landing pages of three focus almost exclusively on internal, research administration content.
My Thoughts about Research Landing Pages
I think research landing pages are an opportunity. Done well, they are content-rich pages where you make the case for your institution’s research impact. Because landing pages are often the primary points of entry, you should think of them as secondary homepages. When a prospective graduate student or faculty member at another university googles “research University of __”, will they find what you’d like them to find?
Also consider there is limited understanding by the public of the value of the research mission. Landing pages allow us to connect the dots for key audiences. Engaging and assessable content will help prospective students and parents see the value of research — in terms of educational opportunities, career preparation, and reputation. We want to position a university’s research activity to demonstrate impact and how scholarship betters the world.
Research at Georgia Tech inspires game-changing ideas and new technologies that help drive economic growth, while improving human life on a global scale.
Repurposing stories about research from university magazines is a worthwhile investment. Research features in these two magazines are fine examples of digital storytelling and superb sidebar content for research landing pages:
- The Magazine of UC Riverside – A Watershed Moment
- UT’s Alcalde Magazine – A Classroom at the Edge of the World
When creating or re-envisioning a research landing page:
- Limit the amount of internal content. Detailed information for researchers should be placed elsewhere in the IA.
- Use stunning photography that tells a story.
- Use infographics and microcontent to make the impact of research understandable.
- Include news and announcements but also include evergreen content about your research mission and its benefits to students.
Gems I Uncovered
- Great landing page copy from Johns Hopkins
- Useful infographics from Michigan and Virginia Commonwealth University
- Stunning, high-impact photography from Cornell and VCU
- Cornell’s strong undergraduate research page
- VCU’s Across the Spectrum blog
- Arizona State on Twitter @ASUResearch
- BU’s Faculty Accolades and Latest Grants Awarded
- A Milestones page from Johns Hopkins.
- Dartmouth’s list of Research Centers
The 19 Research Landing Pages I Visited
Arizona State University
George Washington University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Johns Hopkins University
Ohio State University
University at Buffalo
University of California Riverside
University of Chicago
University of Michigan
University of Miami
University of Rochester
University of Texas at Austin
University of Virginia
Virginia Commonwealth University