Many UK universities need to improve the performance of their websites – and navigation issues are the most common problem, new research has found.
The review of 131 UK university websites, over a six-day period, was conducted by independent software testing company Edge Testing Solutions to discover whether UK universities’ websites were holding up to the increased pressure caused by the pandemic and the switch to remote learning.
Websites were tested for ease of navigation, loading speed, image quality and functioning links.
Key findings included:
- Navigation was the main problem for university sites – a large proportion of sites did not allow users to move freely and easily through them.
- 36% of sites had unsatisfactory navigation features; this figure rose to 55% for the mobile versions of these websites.
- On average it took 2.61 seconds for a site to become fully interactive.
- Only 4 of the 131 (3%) websites displayed images to an ‘A’ grade standard, according to the Website Speed Test tool. Most (64%) scored a ‘B’.
- UK universities appear to have good housekeeping when it comes to removing dead or broken links as most sites had less than 1.5% broken links. However, one university site contained 18% non-functioning links.
Top 10 UK university websites for navigation:
- Leeds Trinity
Top 10 UK university websites for loading speed
- Imperial College London
Top UK university websites for image quality
The review rated image quality based on image format, fit, compression rate, colour space and colour depth, and on a grade range of A-F.
Only Leeds, Birmingham, Aston and Aberystwyth scored an A. 64% of the other websites received a B, with the remainder having image quality of only a C grade standard.
Top 10 UK university websites for functioning links
- De Montfort (zero broken links)
- Trinity Saint David
- St Mary’s Twickenham
- Edge Hill
- Arts University Bournemouth
- University of the Highlands & Island
Top 10 UK university websites overall
- St Andrews
“During a time where students and parents are shifting to making decisions and gathering information online more than ever before, this research reveals that universities still have room for improvement, with poor navigation, slow speed, poor image quality and broken links threatening user experience,” said Sharon Hamilton of Edge Testing Solutions.
“Many of the poorer performers cannot afford to let a poor performing website impact current or prospective students.”
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