This week we’re proud to launch the new Student Voices web pages. This marks the end of the Student Blog WordPress website that was launched back in 2012. Content from the blog has been migrated into a new section within the University website.

Why have we done this? Last summer, we ran user feedback sessions with students to learn more about their motivations and information needs. We asked them to think back to when they were making their decision about choosing a university. We were keen to understand why they chose Dundee and whether the information provided on our web pages had been useful to them.

Students told us in feedback that they wanted to read the views and opinions of students on different aspects of student life. That’s no surprise. There’s an authenticity and credibility to student generated content that often feels more persuasive than other types of marketing content. Some were aware of the Student Blog but many were not. One student commented that, had they known about it, it would have been incredibly useful in making their decision to study here. Although we included links to the blog from various pages on the University website, most users overlooked these. Evidently, visibility of the blog was a problem.

We know that some posts on the Student Blog perform well in organic search. For example, ’10 Tips for Surviving the 1st Year of Dental School’ gets a whopping 89% of its traffic from organic search. ’10 Things You Need to Know About Being a Medical Student’ performs even better than this with 93% of its traffic coming from search. Both pages are good examples of ‘pull content’. The title and substance of the content matches the terms that people are using when searching for information and pulls them into to the website. The content captures the user’s intent.

That said, a lot of the posts on the blog are more useful as a way of validating marketing and support content on the University website. For example, a prospective student can learn about societies on the student life pages then follow a link to the blog to get a first person view on the best society. This can be a powerful and persuasive way of demonstrating student experience.

The content on the blog relates to all aspects of student life. It’s a great marketing resource but we wanted to do more with the content. By moving the blog into the University website we have made it part of the website content model. Why does this matter? Well, it means there are now relationships between blog posts and content like subjects and courses. Content can be tagged, categorised, and surfaced in useful ways. Here’s some examples:

We were also aware that student generated content plays a more central role in our marketing strategy than it did back in 2012. Students who work with us are ‘content creators’ and not just bloggers. The content they create can be published across a range of social media platforms and in different formats. This has been achieved by recruiting students with great communication and digital skills. Our working relationship with student content creators is now formalised in a way that hopefully makes them feel like they are part of a team – and should result in better content.

So where does this leave the blog in the age of Tik Tok and Instagram? We believe there’s still a place for it. In a 2022 YouthSight report for the University of Dundee, university websites were ranked first in the sources used by applicants when researching where to study. Despite the appeal of social media channels, university websites are still regarded as a trustworthy and easy way to access information by prospective students. Integrating the blog into the University website helps us go beyond information to inspiration, and show Dundee for the unique place that it really is.

Taking all this into account we’ve migrated the content into the website in a new section called Student Voices. The name change is subtle one admittedly but it allows us to also incorporate more video-based content as well as the more traditional text-based blog posts.

Jill (Senior Marketing Officer for Student Content) is working with students on a content plan covering a wide range topics to be published over the coming weeks and months. So there’s lots of good stuff in the pipeline. We hope prospective students find it useful.