Future Online Landscape at VU Amsterdam

In the coming years, VU Amsterdam will be updating its web landscape by means of a programme known as Future Online Landscape. This four-year programme (2017-2020) is giving us the ways and means to realize an ambitious objective. Achieving this will involve a lot of effort, starting with the organizational, content-related and technical aspects, so that we can then start reaping the benefits.

Below are some examples of projects realized as part of Future Online Landscape.

For further information about Future Online Landscape and its projects, please contact toll.cm@vu.nl.

Pre Student Community
The Pre Student Community (PSC) was launched at the end of April 2018. This is an online environment for applicants (pre-students) applying for the Bachelor’s degree programmes in Business Administration and Communication Studies. Its goals are to ensure that an application becomes a registration and to prepare students better for their course of study. After less than two months, more than 60% of the pre-students applying for Communication Studies and Business Administration has visited the PSC and stayed for an average of more than six minutes.

With the PSC, VU Amsterdam can offer a digital environment in which future students can start feeling part of our university even before they arrive. Having contact with fellow students and getting a look at the application and registration process as well as relevant content at the programme level encourages prospective students to opt for VU Amsterdam and also helps create loyalty. After all, the PSC can provide things like mini-interviews with lecturers, tips from academic advisors, student and alumni testimonials, and special offers from our campus businesses. A special Facebook group is available to get to know fellow students. We also offer pre-students accessible means of contact using e-mail, phone, WhatsApp and webchat. Take a peek at the PSC:

VU Studie Inspirator
The VU Study Choice Guide was launched in October 2017. This is an accessible online inspirational tool that prospective students can use to discover which VU programmes correspond best to their societal interests.

studie inspirator voorbeeld

The VU Study Choice Guide is a kind of lead generator that helps prospective students find their way to relevant pages at the Bachelor’s Platform. It’s already attracted more than 8,000 users, and the test has been completed 7,700 times. We’ve noted that this is being done by both prospective students and their parents and that 58% has used a mobile device. We started the further development of the VU Study Choice Guide in March 2018.

Web analytics
Where do our visitors come from? Which pages are most frequently visited? And which social media channels generate the most clicks? Using Google web tools such as Google Analytics can give us the answers. As part of Future Online Landscape, these web tools were rebuilt at the end of 2017, old websites were removed from our account, and a new process for access management was developed.

From now on, employees can simply log in with their VUnet ID to get access to the Google Analytics reports for all of VU Amsterdam’s online products (websites/apps). 

A number of Google Data Studio Dashboards were also developed to get a quick overview of the most important web stats provided by Google Analytics. One example is the dashboard for De VU Formule magazine.

web analytics

At this dashboard, you can instantly see the average time a visitor remains on a page (Avg. Time on Page), how many page views a page has received (Page Views) and how often a certain link has been clicked (Clickouts). This data can be used to improve the content because you can see which articles have been carefully read or which ones haven’t. 

Dashboard for the International Office: International Bachelor’s programmes
It’s often time-consuming for a faculty to look up user statistics for each of its degree programmes in Google Analytics. This is why the Bachelor Programmes Dashboard was developed for the International Office. All it takes is a click in the dropdown menu to get the web stats for both the entire Bachelor’s website and each of its degree programme pages.  

web analytics 2

Screaming Frog
Google web tools aren’t the only tools that provide information about the status of a website and its position in the various search engines. The Screaming Frog tool lets you make a report on all of your website’s pages. This report gives you information about page titles, meta descriptions, internal meta descriptions, internal links and dead links. These reports can be exported directly to Microsoft Excel and forwarded to web editors. We will be making more use of these kinds of tools in the coming time so that we can optimize our websites and make them even more visible in search engines.

Keyword intelligence
Recruiting more students is one of VU Amsterdam’s major objectives, so it’s important that the degree programmes we offer and how we present them correspond to the interests of prospective students. Since Google processes more than four billion searches a day, this makes it the largest source of customer behaviour and interests. We’re going to conduct a keyword research based on Google data in order to map the search behaviour of our target group. The focus will be on the name of a degree programme and terms related to it.

With this information, we can respond with our degree programmes, with our site structure and by optimizing the site’s content for reaching more of both our Dutch and international target groups. Dashboards will make these insights available to all faculties. Based on these insights, we want to have the content at the programme level correspond as closely as possible to the wishes of our target group and to Google’s criteria for positions in search engines, so that the entire website responds to what the target group wants and its use of keywords.

Dataoverzicht zoektermen websitebezoekers