Image of a university professor addressing a group of students
7 Higher Education Website Header Designs That Improve User Engagement
The information on your website is important, but users need to be engaged from the beginning of their experience until the very end. When it comes to the design of your school’s website the first impression of your page needs to tell users that their visit will be simple, the site also requires a striking appearance that will hold the attention of visitors. In higher education institutions, there are many stakeholders like faculty, staff, students, prospective students and their parents, as well as alumni, who all rely on the website to receive important information. This all makes the communication and representation of the school’s culture crucial.

7  Higher Education Website Header Designs That Improve User Engagement

Slideshows are a visual aspect that can add to the user experience. Information items are cycled in sequential order, often slideshows are used in conjunction with a hero banner to highlight a variety of key topics. Slideshows are an opportunity to add a storytelling element for branded narratives and tailored calls to action. 

Hero Banners and slideshows are both great tools to use that will encourage visitors to explore your site. That, combined with a simple, easy to use navigation menu creates a functional and intuitive website design. Higher education websites often have multiple sites attributed to their main homepage as well as several portals that need to be accessed by students and faculty. With comprehensible categories, your website can be organized in a way that makes it effortless for information to be accessed. 

Here are a few examples of universities and colleges that have designed their headers using slideshows and navigation menus that stand out and snag the attention of users from the very beginning and guide them through their entire visit.


Image of various higher education institutions website headers complied

Use slideshows to Showcase Your School

1. The University of Northern British Columbia

The University of Northern British Columbia website is a great example of using a slideshow to tell their institution’s story. Their homepage features a hero banner with a slideshow, presenting a variety of key information. The content is meant to connect with different audiences so that each visitor will find information that is valuable to them. 


Image of the University of Northern British Columbia website header


2. the university of waterloo

The University of Waterloo has included a slideshow on their website. Here, high-quality images have been used along with color contrast and different variations of their school’s branded colors to grab the attention and engage with potential students and different audiences.  


Image of the University of Waterloo website header


3. The University of Chicago

The University of Chicago uses its slideshow as a highlight reel. Their header keeps visitors up-to-date on current university events, and spotlights distinguishing student and faculty accomplishments. 


Image of the University of Chicago website header


4. Oxford University 

Oxford University uses its slideshow to keep students, future students and alumni alike engaged throughout their entire visit. With virtual open house events and weekly, live, at-home tutorials with an array of subjects offered to visitors as soon as they click on to the page.  


Image of the Oxford University website header


Improve Higher Ed Site Navigation

5. The University of Virginia

The University of Virginia uses Drupal to power their website. Their site navigation is a great example of how straight forward the menu can be. This enables users to have a productive visit on your site while keeping the institution’s branding consistent throughout.


Image of the University of Virginia website header


6. Davidson College

Davidson College has a comprehensive navigation menu that visitors can click on to expand over a video featured in their header. An expanding navigation is a unique way to organize website content. A design like this gives you the chance to play up the visuals and storytelling components on your school’s website. 


Image of Davidson College website header


7. Queen's University 

Queen’s University has designed its navigation so that content is divided into broad categories which users can hover over to view drop-down menus with even more specific information. This keeps the homepage tidy and makes the visit intuitive for prospective students and other audiences . 


Image of Queen's University website header


To Summarize


Recently, there has been a need for institutions of higher education to acclimate to changes in technology and cultural shifts, on top of the pressure that already exists to generate revenues and live up to student demands for engagement. Headers play a big role in leading demographics through their journey and guiding users through the decision-making process.

OPIN partners with the leading higher education institutions, helping them create industry-leading designs. OPIN’s data-driven and user experience approach to design has played a key role in all of our work. 

Find out how your institution can tie these design concepts together by reading our blog Designing Footers for Higher Education Institutions.

Thanks for reading!