Skip navigation
EAB Logo Navigate to the EAB Homepage Navigate to EAB home
  1. Solutions /
  2. Partner Services /
  3. Professional and Adult Education Web Presence Audit
Partner Service

Professional and Adult Education Web Presence Audit

EAB's audit will help higher ed institutions identify opportunities to improve their professional, continuing, and online education websites.

The professional, continuing, and online (PCO) education space faces more competition than ever before; for example, higher education launched nearly 2,000 completely new online programs between 2017 and 2021.

At the same time as more institutions rush to develop adult-serving and online offerings, the learners they work to attract are also more likely to be stealth shoppers. Consumers increasingly seek to protect their personal information online and choose not to submit their contact information before they apply, thus skipping the traditional recruitment funnel. Stealth shopping rates for PCO units rose from 20% in 2012 to 80% in 2022.

Your institution’s website has become not only the face of your institution but also your main recruitment engine as students forego Requests for Information and direct conversations with recruiters. It’s time to equip your website to appeal to these stealth shoppers.

Ready to request a Web Presence Audit? Sign up for an assessment from EAB to get customized guidance on how to improve your website for prospective adult learners.

Today’s adult learner is difficult to reach and convert

Today’s consumers are hyper-online, hyper-connected, and hyper-distracted, and the digital ecosystem is more crowded than ever, meaning your marketing efforts have to do more to attract consumers’ attention.

  • Hyper-online: 40% of U.S. adults say they used digital technology or the internet in new or different ways compared to before the pandemic
  • Hyper-connected: 65 min. is the average amount of time U.S. users spent on social media per day in 2021 (compared to 54 minutes in 2020)
  • Hyper-distracted: 4-10K is the average number of brands (logos, advertisements, etc.) the average person sees daily

And, in less than ten years, Gen Z students will make up 60% of the adult learner audience. Gen Z is the most online generation yet, and these digital natives hold high expectations for online experiences. Your PCO website must meet these expectations in order to hold their attention and interest.

Your PCO webpages often fail to meet adult learners’ high digital expectations

Your website is a crucial part of your marketing to stealth shoppers, and failure to provide a positive web experience can have disastrous consequences on your marketing funnel.

Web impressions are everything for adult learners

  • Your website is the #1 resource prospects use to look for information when researching programs
  • 94% of adult learners make a point to visit websites of all schools they’re considering
  • 85% of adult learners say a bad website negatively affects their opinion of your school
  • 63% of adult learners abandon your website if it’s not user friendly

Many PCO units struggle to make significant changes to their website—after all, these changes involve input from constituents across your institution ranging from admissions, faculty, web designers, and more. It’s tempting to postpone this challenge to the future. However, as pressure mounts on PCO units to increase enrollments, avoiding this challenge only heightens the risk that you’ll miss out on valuable prospect interest.

PCO webpages are falling short in vital areas

Despite websites’ importance to prospects’ recruitment experience, most PCO websites lack key information or features that prospects need. After months of evaluating university websites, EAB’s research team identified three common—and crucially important—areas where unit and program webpages fail to meet the standards that today’s adult learners expect.

1. Navigation to the unit homepage and program webpage

Too often, institutional websites require a challenging and lengthy process to navigate from the institution’s homepage to the PCO unit homepage, let alone specific program webpages. Students expecting streamlined navigation may give up in frustration.

Common pitfalls

  • No link to the PCO unit homepage on main institutional webpage
  • No program search function on PCO unit homepage
  • Lack of consistency across pages

2. Key content

Even the most detailed webpages often lack information students use to choose among programs. A brief description of your program no longer suffices; webpages must feature details ranging from admissions dates and requirements to cost to faculty profiles and student testimonials.

Common pitfalls

  • No alumni testimonials or career outcomes data
  • No mention of tuition, financial aid, or scholarships
  • Confusing academic jargon

3. Web design

The importance of an organized webpage that prioritizes essential program details cannot be understated. Not all information listed on a webpage is equally important for your audience; disorganized design makes it difficult for prospects to see the highest-priority program differentiators, such as cost and career outcomes. Additionally, a website that appears old-fashioned or poorly designed gives students the impression that your institution is behind the times.

Common pitfalls

  • Burying outcomes or cost information in walls of text
  • Burdensome RFIs
  • Calls-to-action are not visually distinct from other text

Curious about how your website stacks up?

Prospects only spend an average of 90 seconds on a school webpage, which means you only have 90 seconds to grab their attention and show them all the crucial information they need to make a decision on whether or not to apply.

See if your website meets the mark by completing EAB’s Website Scavenger Hunt.

  1. Download the PDF.
  2. Set your timer for 90 seconds.
  3. Visit a program webpage of your choice and start hunting for key details. For an extra challenge, conduct the scavenger hunt on a mobile device to mimic today’s consumers.

While this exercise can show where your website is missing key content that prospects need, it doesn’t tell your website’s full story, as there are other key navigational and design considerations that can make or break the prospect experience. EAB can help you identify even more opportunities to improve your web presence so that stealth shoppers have a positive experience on your website.

Request EAB’s Web Presence Audit to identify your best opportunities for improvement

EAB’s Professional and Adult Education Advisory Services team offers a Web Presence Audit to locate where your website falls short of prospect expectations and needs.

This audit addresses the two most important parts of your website for adult learners: the landing page for your PCO unit and an individual program page. It identifies where the selected webpages score in terms of navigability, design, and inclusion of key information. The audit also includes a list of best-practice visual examples that EAB’s research team has collected to better illustrate effective web design.

Request a Web Presence Audit