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It’s been obvious for a number of years now that the University’s website is our most important communications channel.

For example, a survey of 2430 future undergraduate students conducted by the Student Recruitment Unit in 2009 reveals that 86% visited the website to find out about the University. Of 1131 future postgraduate students, 63% said that the website was the most important source of information when deciding to study at Sydney, while 82% used the website to find out more information about the University after they had decided to pursue a degree.

It’s therefore essential that our most important communications channel should be the best it can be. The 2009 survey of future undergraduate students also asked them to rate the website in terms of ease of use, visual appeal (the site has been rebranded since then so I’ve left these results out) and quality of information, as well as asking for an overall rating. We didn’t perform too badly, but it’s far from satisfactory by our standards.

Ease of use:
Poor or very poor — 6%
Average — 32%
Good or very good — 60%
No answer — 2%

Quality of information:
Poor or very poor — 3%
Average — 23%
Good or very good — 73%
No answer — 2%

Overall rating:
Poor or very poor — 2%
Average — 24%
Good or very good — 72%
No answer — 2%

In order to improve our website, the Marketing and Communications Division has engaged a team of web experts to help us develop a web strategy for the next five years. They will be analysing our site, benchmarking against other university and non-university websites and drawing on best practice to help us produce a roadmap for future development. To this end they will also be conducting a number of focus groups and surveys in the next month. Additionally, to provide more granular feedback, we will be placing surveys on some of our website’s pages, so if you’re interested in providing feedback keep your eye out for them.

If you’d like more information about the web strategy, please contact Jane Clements at jane.clements@sydney.edu.au.