Conversion Driven Design

"Design is an opportunity to continue telling the story, not just to sum everything up", Tate Linden, Chief Creative & President at Stokefire.

Here at Terminalfour we love to highlight success. There’s nothing that gives us greater joy than praising those people and institutions that dare to step outside the box and bring creativity and vigor to their social media efforts or their student engagement initiatives; to recognize excellence in digital marketing and to applaud individualism and uniqueness.

And while many universities and colleges have spearheaded the social media revolution and used it to great effect to engage, inspire and to represent the personality of the institution it must be said that their website design often lacks the imagination and performance focus of the commercial sector.

We’ve all seen those university brochures with images of people sitting laughing under the tree or studying intently in the quad - the picture of diversity, inclusion and post high-school freedom. The problem is they all looked the same. Generic was the rule of thumb. Unfortunately this approach to brochure design crept into the website design for lots of institutions of higher education. If you removed the logo for the most part you couldn’t distinguish one from another. This is possibly a little harsh and it has to be said that some universities have been spot-on with their design but take a look at a bunch of them and see can you identify the template.

More worryingly, many fail to meet the principle purpose of the website i.e. increase the number of conversions on the site by improving usability, intuitiveness and impact.

Now, we’re not just calling out universities and colleges for the sake of it. In an era of increasing competition for students, design can offer a competitive advantage and play an integral part in the recruitment process. Seriously!

We started this blog post with a quote, "Design is an opportunity to continue telling the story, not just to sum everything up". This sums up our belief about website design. If done correctly, purposefully and authentically your website adds a new dimension to your value proposition. It becomes an extension of your message and your promise and is a critical tool in improving the pipeline of prospects to your institution.


With all this in mind we decided to make design the subject of our next webinar. Conversion Driven Design – How university website redesigns go wrong (and how to get it right).


  • The practical considerations. Things to avoid to stop your website turning prospective students away (e.g. poor optimization, asset management, stacking etc.)
  • The biggest crimes: where imagery goes wrong. The rise of generic university websites.
  • Planning & Testing: Avoid group think and personal bias. Using qualitative research to inform your university website design decisions.
  • Designing for performance and measurement.
  • Our picks of some of the best university websites in the world.

Let us know your favorite higher education websites (it can be your own one – we love bias).

View a recording of the webinar here.