For our 2008/09 research project, we reviewed the online profiles of all 137 of the universities ranked in the world top 100 by either the THE or ARWU global rankings to benchmark website best practice in higher education. The analysis of each university website involved 22 key factors and the report was arranged according to these factors.

Outstanding University websites were analysed and presented, with interesting, unusual, notable, or excellent examples highlighted. The screen shots were grouped by:

  • Good homepage, graphic design or branding
  • A sense of ‘international outlook’
  • Appeal to international faculty
  • Amplification of research profile
  • Good use of technology
  • Appeal to international students
  • Media-friendly sites
  • Interesting use of rank/reputation
  • Extensive use of location
  • Exemplary structure and navigation

A more recent online brand review of university websites was conducted as part of the 2017/18 annual research project – Brand Snapshot: Measuring online brand strength in world-class universities. The research involved the top 50 universities in world in all four main global rankings, plus W100 members and nominated peers.

We covered 22 key areas in the analysis:

  • Ability to find the site
  • Design, graphics and branding
  • Straplines
  • Amplification of research
  • News on the homepage
  • Key links on homepage
  • Editorial emphasis of homepage
  • Visual emphasis of homepage
  • Universities that project innovation
  • Structure and navigation
  • Easy availability of 'fame factors'
  • Broadcast of world status
  • Sense of place, unique selling points
  • Sense of international outlook
  • Appeal to international faculty
  • Size of international student body
  • Affiliations on home page
  • Language
  • Technology
  • Appeal to international students
  • Detail of information provided
  • Overall site satisfaction

No wow factor - universitiy websites struggle to stand out

Of the 137 universities, only 28 institutions across the sample were judged as having the wow factor and struggled to achieve a rating of exemplary, or even good, in terms of structure and navigation.

The final reports from the research, Website Best Practice, were published in November 2008. 2008/09 members received a bespoke report, in addition to the main project report, comparing their sites and brand presence with four agreed world-class competitors. We took an intensive look at the five websites in each case to see how the member stood up against rivals, comparators or benchmarked institutions. The analysis was arranged according to the 22 factors in the main report, but allowed for side by side analysis.

The final reports are available for 2008/09 members of the W100 Network via news and resources page.

Further World 100 Research

  • Riding the Tiger: Enhancing the Role of Reputation in International Partnerships
  • The Digital Approach: Resources and structures for online communications
  • Website Best Practice for World-Class Universities
  • Rise and Fall: Managing reputation associated with significant world ranking change
  • The R-Word: Communicating research at world-class universities
  • more!

Become a Member

The World 100 Reputation Network is a group of the best universities in the world, delivering research that enhances reputation and offering leaders the chance to develop their own careers on a global stage. Members benefit from events and study tours, training, monthly media monitoring, and unique reputation research to provide institutional advantage.

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