They say a picture is worth a thousand words. For a curious student looking to invest thousands in their education at a place, they’ll be living, learning, and socializing; there can never be enough photos depicting the experience and facilities they have to look forward to in their formative years.
In many cases, photography is the first touchpoint and insight into life at your institution – an opportunity to pique their interest and allow them to picture themselves in those beautiful stills of joyful students walking between classes.
What makes photography more important in the recruitment and enrollment process is that stealth applicants are now making firm decisions well before ever talking to someone from the University or visiting the University in person. Covid-19 has only accelerated this trend.
So this week, we asked our team to find us great examples of institutions that use photography in a fun, impactful and creative ways.
Imagery at the heart of every click
Striking imagery takes center stage at Georgetown University, extending to video placeholders and gallery functions to maximize space and impact. Imagery is wide in range, painting a picture of the varied aspects of campus life and the clubs and societies on offer.
Over at Johns Hopkins University, they use sliding image functionality to amplify powerful and distinctly authentic photography of classes, social settings, lifestyles, and graduations. Eye-catching imagery on the University of New South Wales Sydney website also aids navigation with an animated gallery that doubles up as a menu, enticing clicks on various topics.
There’s also impressive, documentary-style photography on the University of Edinburgh’s main landing pages, with close-range, studious shots mingling with wider frames depicting the happiness of students as well as their surroundings. But there’s a time and place for headshots – and a cohesive gallery of beaming faces on the student stories page allows users to connect with those whose footsteps they’re considering following.
The University of Winchester has a focus on stunning photography at every part of the user journey – even down to the wordier individual course details, thanks to full-page image backdrops. Photographs capture candid moments of joy in halls to more staged, eyes-to-camera shots – all inspiring prospective students to click for more. And every new page loaded is packed with photographic appeal. There is also strong imagery of the campus and faculties too, allowing users a detailed look at the facilities that they could be using.
Staged yet stylish photography
A more stylized approach is seen on the University of West England Bristol homepage, where we they have cut out photography of students imposed on striking colored backgrounds, allowing their faces and enthusiasm to do the talking. Delve a little deeper, and there’s a range of more natural photography giving visitors a glimpse into Bristol student life.
The London School of Economics also makes posed, eyes-to-camera imagery center stage on the homepage with harmonizing color accents and graphics, which, again, leads to more contextualized images further along in the user journey.
Boston University promises ‘Instagram-worthy’ experiences, and its imagery certainly lives up to that promise. With a mixture of charming full-width photographs and grided image galleries, the website tells an authentic story of fun, laughter and learning from classroom to dorm, at every step of the user journey.
Never too much
William and Mary University's 'in pictures' section – accessible from the main navigation – lets users quickly navigate their way to a bank of galleries dedicated to a range of aspects of university life, from traditions such as homecomings and commencements to campus through the seasons and the arts.
The images convey genuine moments of joy across the board, giving any prospective student a real insight into the community there. This site demonstrates that photography doesn’t always need to be professional and polished, with authenticity being the priority here.
The value of student generated content
What could give a more realistic look into life at a university than the students living it? Many universities have now embedded their Instagram accounts into their homepage functionality and, with good social media reps also reposting student content, this gives potential admissions a genuine glimpse into what goes on in day-to-day life at institutions. And for minimal cost, too. The University of Pittsburgh, Purdue University, and George Washington University are among those tapping into the potential of social media photography on their websites.
In a world where students may just have to, quite literally, continue picturing themselves at your institution in the absence of fully-fledged open days, the power of imagery can never be underestimated. It has the capability to capture the essence of life and culture at your university and set it out from others to inspire recruitment interest.
What university sites have you seen using imagery particularly well? And what do you think works so well about the examples above? Do get in touch and share your thoughts; we’d love to hear more.