In an ever-expanding digital landscape, microsites are emerging as versatile tools for reaching specific target audiences and bringing institutional stories to life in compelling and creative ways. When informed by a content strategy that complements a college’s overarching digital brand, microsites can strengthen the institution’s web presence by providing a unique and memorable user experience.
Microsites are not a great fit in every circumstance. In fact, we regularly caution colleges about repeating the early mistakes of college web governance, when every department published its own website with little to no cohesion between them. Yet there are sound strategic reasons to consider microsites. Here are five situations when a microsite might make sense for your institution:
- You’d like to highlight a specify program, campaign, or project. There is perhaps no better fit for a microsite than showcasing a standout program or current project at your institution. The Lawlor Group recently launched a microsite for the College of Wooster’s APEX program—a unique mix of career development, entrepreneurship, study abroad offices, and more. Emphasizing outcomes and student stories, the “Discover Apex” microsite immerses visitors in a contemporary web experience that vividly captures the real-world APEX setting.
- Your institution wants to replace or complement a print publication. Microsites provide a great solution for reimagining a traditional offline experience in a digital environment. When TCU approached The Lawlor Group about replacing the University’s bloated print viewbook, we proposed a responsive, media-rich microsite. The resulting site (called “Look Around TCU”) emphasizes video, visual, and social content in a mobile-friendly format that is far more relevant to prospective students than the static viewbook format.
- You need to reach a specific audience. One of the challenges for college websites is that they must serve so many audiences. Prospective students, parents, current students, alumni, and faculty all have distinct needs and goals. Microsites can allow institutions to focus entirely on a single target audience, tailoring a unique user experience specifically for those individuals and their interests. The Lawlor Group has developed targeted microsites for centennial celebrations and presidential inaugurations and would recommend this approach for capital campaigns as well. Segmented visual content is also a great way to engage and cultivate a variety of prospective students who are already interested in your institution but would welcome further cultivation and communication. Sustaining interest is a real variable in today’s higher education marketplace.
- You need an interim solution until your next institutional website redesign. Full-scale .edu redesigns are expensive and time-consuming—and colleges are increasingly suffering from “redesign fatigue;” they simply cannot afford to revamp the entire institutional website as quickly as new web technologies emerge. One potential solution is to deploy microsites for mission-critical areas of the website. This enables colleges to remain relevant for key audiences through nimble, iterative improvement while extending the timeline for top-to-bottom redesigns. Our digital team has developed interim undergraduate admissions sites that helped our clients remain current and bridge the gap until their next institutional redesign.
- Your institution’s web publishing environment limits creativity. Have you ever had one of those middle-of-the-night creative epiphanies—only to discover that your brilliant idea is not possible because of CMS or IT limitations? A microsite opens up new creative horizons because it doesn’t necessarily have to live within the constraints of your institution’s existing CMS or hosting environment. A microsite can complement your broader website without looking or behaving exactly the same—in fact, that’s part of what can make it compelling and attention-grabbing.
When backed by clear goals and sound strategies, microsites can greatly enhance a college’s digital marketing reach. Interested in exploring how a microsite can help you tell your stories in a unique way? We’d love to talk with you!