Much of the existing online undergraduate course descriptions were text-heavy pages, transferred from the old website when the University became independent and rebranded in the summer of 2016.
The following April, the busy marketers decided the time was right to give the content a facelift; transforming it into copy that would capture students’ attention when they started looking for university places after getting exam results.
The brief was to write content with more zest, while giving students the information needed to make important decisions. Also, as a new university, the copy had help to give its profile a boost in a competitive higher education sector.
Simplifying and stylising
I gladly took on the challenge of injecting more style into the diverse collection of course content, while bringing the tone more in line with new brand guidelines.
Being an outsider, I was in an excellent position to see the copy from a student’s point of view. I knew that the pages of long paragraphs and jargon wouldn’t trigger the right emotions in someone who lacked specialist knowledge. It could even confuse and overwhelm.
Besides, with most applicants feeling the pressure during Clearing, would they actually have time to dig through heavy-going text?
One of my jobs was to be ruthless and cut down the copy, making it punchy and concise.
Long copy has its place – this wasn’t one of them!
Making the courses shine
I also discovered that a lot of the old content wasn’t doing the courses justice, with technical language often burying and distracting from the jewels that make the course really shine.
To tackle the issue, I used a classic copywriting and PR tactic to unearth that special something that would make the quality and calibre of the courses leap out of the web page.
When my interviews with course leaders, I asked: “What makes your course special? What’s unique about it? What great things do your students say about it?”
Whether it was industry connections, accomplished teaching staff, outstanding work placements or cutting-edge facilities, this kind of information had to take priority in the copy.
"Elma worked with the university marketing team to complete a fixed piece of copy writing work for the university website. Elma fitted into the team really quickly, and worked with colleagues across the organisation effectively and efficiently. Her work was to a very high standard and I would have no hesitation in recommending her, or employing her for further work." Polly Bridgman, Director of External Relations at University of Suffolk
By marrying the research with my understanding of what people want to see online, I created content that is to the point and relevant.
It now has more energy and character, and proudly shows off what the University has to offer, using copy, video and images.
To showcase the University’s networks – essential to students’ education and their future careers – I added links to external websites. For instance, the Business School has fantastic links to big brands; students simply click through to find out more about companies they may be working with during their degree.
Creating this kind of content is best practice in the private sector. By bringing a dash of commercial acumen to academia, I produced copy that will engage and inspire people, while helping them make one of the biggest decisions of their lives.