5 Best Practices for Showcasing Research on Your University’s Website
The internet has allowed universities to disseminate information on their latest research news more easily than ever before. We have talked a lot about using new social media channels such as WeChat to reach new audiences, but the traditional university homepage remains a vital way of getting your latest news out there. Creating engaging content for a university website takes planning and know-how to ensure research is presented with impact. Here, we introduce a few tips on how to make the most of your website when showcasing your research.
Appropriate and engaging visuals
Visual representations of information aid understanding, improve shareability, and simply make content more engaging. Accordingly, many academic journals have recently encouraged graphical abstracts with submissions. Likewise, finding an image that can summarize the research scheme and results can greatly improve engagement. Even when such images are not available, a stock photo that summarizes the content of the research is useful. For example, research on sea pollution can be put into context well by including a royalty-free image of some garbage from the sea
This is a public domain picture from Wikimedia Commons.
Alternative content formats
- Numbered or bulleted lists (like this one!)—Summarizing key points or sequences of events
- Tables—Reproducing data from a study or showing comparisons across categories
- Infographics—Putting all the essential findings in a shareable format
- Pull-quotes—Highlighting a key point
- Slide shows or carousels—Providing more images without cluttering the page
Many content management systems such as WordPress include built-in functions for features like block quotes, text boxes, and expandable lists, so try experimenting with them and using them in your future posts.
Use lay language
All of us are lay people in some respect. For example, a molecular biology researcher might have trouble understanding an article on paleontology. You can’t just format and write your content like an article for an academic journal. As the intended audience will include staff, current and prospective students, and the press, it is best to keep the writing accessible, assuming absolutely no prior knowledge of the field.
Cast a wide net for social media sharing
You are probably familiar with those little “share” buttons on many websites. You may even use them sometimes. They not only make pages easier to share, but they often also track the numbers of shares and include their own analytics scripts to check click-throughs.
Including them is of course a good idea. However, you should also consider expanding the scope of social media services. Facebook, Reddit, and WhatsApp are heavily used in Europe and the English-speaking world, but it is worth considering the habits of your desired audience. Audiences in Thailand, Indonesia, and Japan, for example, often use LINE for social media sharing instead of WhatsApp. If you wish to expand your shareability in emerging markets, it is worth checking what services are used in those areas.
Include contact details
This one sounds obvious, but it’s quite common for posts to not include contact details. We recommend including the contact details of the post’s author, research lead, or press liaison at the end of all news posts. This is mostly for journalists, who often reach out for quotes and interviews.
Your homepage can be thought of as your university’s “face” on the internet, as it is the first thing people will look at when researching your institution. Making good use of it. both improve the impact of your university’s research and help brand your university as being on the cutting edge of academic studies.