Is your university website guilty of using clichéd images?

As the oft quoted and somewhat clichéd saying goes; ‘An image can say a thousand words’ but how many words does a clichéd image say?

Your university or college website is a place to showcase excellence and originality, a place to really sell your institution above all the competition. Yet, so many higher education institutions are guilty of overusing generic stock imagery.

We’ve listed some of the most over-used university images that you should avoid at all costs:

1.       The ‘students  studying under a tree’ photo

You know the ones we mean, the groups of smiling friends sitting underneath an imposingly leafy tree with a book perched precariously on their knees. Sure, they look like they’re having the time of their lives but does it give prospective students a valid insight into student life on your campus?  Why not highlight something that only happens at your university? Maybe you have a talented theatre group that really knows how to put on a show or unbeatable sports facilities or perhaps your university puts on a charity event that students look forward to all semester?  Images such as these give prospective students a glimpse into what student life on campus is like. Let’s face it you can study under a tree just about anywhere!

2.       The ‘Graduation’ photo

When it comes to choosing a school, the chances of a prospective student making their choice based on the colour palette of the graduation caps and gowns are pretty slim. Trust us; failing to include a snapshot of a group of students who look elated to finally be leaving your university isn’t going to negatively impact your application numbers. However, if you do feel that the inclusion of a graduation photo is a must, feature it on the webpage dedicated to graduations. How about this? Instead of focusing on students who are graduating, why not feature past students who have been afforded great opportunities as a direct result of their degrees? Perhaps you have alumni members who are doing great work with Doctors without Borders or who are making incredible breakthroughs in their chosen field of research.  Choosing to highlight the possibilities is a much more powerful way to get students excited about attending your university.

3.       The ‘researcher looking into a microscope’ photo

We get it; this is a photo of scientists who presumably spend a large part of their day looking into a microscope.  Any student or indeed any investor who is interested in finding out what amazing breakthroughs your university has made in the field of research is going to naturally make the assumption that much of their work will require the use of a microscope. The same theory applies here to the use of images of scientists thoroughly examining the contents of a test-tube.  Try instead, to use photos that really demonstrate the excellence of your research. On a side note, photos of research should also be limited to the research section of your website. Your homepage should be dedicated to communicating relevant information to prospective students.

Taking a little time to qualify what the unique features of your school are can change how prospective students view your institution.  With this in mind, let’s just take it for granted that all colleges and universities will have at least one tree to study under, that all schools will have a graduation ceremony and that all university research labs will have an abundance of microscopes and test tubes on offer.