Spotlights are a great way to draw attention to specific information on your website, as well as add dimension and variety to the different pages on your site. We have to commend you, our web ambassadors, for really taking advantage of these tools to make your sites dynamic and interactive.
So, without further ado, here are some of the best examples of spotlight usage that we've seen across University sites:
Ray P. Authement College of Sciences home page
Check out the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences home page for yourself. In general, the page is filled with spotlights, which is fantastic. It makes the page feel full and makes the college look like it's an active community with a lot to offer students and faculty alike.
But let's look closer at the spotlight named "Get Involved!" which draws attention to the different seminars and colloquia that the different departments put on during the semester. It's a great spotlight to have on the college-level site because it draws attention to (and links users to) the more departmental-specific activities. If this spotlight weren't here, it may have been difficult for College of Science visitors to find that information.
How you can replicate this spotlight on your website: This will be a little easier for academic entities to execute, and not our offices. But think about what opportunities there are for students, faculty, or staff members to get involved within your college, department, or area (like organizations, associations, volunteer opportunities, etc.). Let the spotlight serve as a jumping-off point for your visitors to find more information about whatever opportunity you're providing — entice them, and then link them to more information.
College of Education's Current Students section
On the College of Education's current student section, they maintain an "Apply for Graduation" spotlight that is set to appear only on pages relevant to current students. It's great that they've configured it only to show in the Current Students section, because only the people who need to see it actually will.
They're very diligent about updating it every semester, which is super important. As a bonus, they've also created an "Apply for Graduation" spotlight for each school/department, which are also set to show only in the Current Students section on each site. Those spotlights are specific to the different majors/programs that each school/department has, which is very helpful.
How you can replicate this spotlight on your website: If you have a complex or long-term deadline, call attention to it using a spotlight — and then configure it to appear for only the relevant audience. Make sure to include the most important information, and then you can include the details and other contact information in either a news story or event, which you should link to from the spotlight.
To be honest, it's difficult to pull a single example of a strong spotlight on the Online Programs site.
However, they've taken audience-targeting up a level by creating spotlights specific to the different online programs the University offers. For example, they just created a new set of pages for the new hybrid program for Master of Education in Educational Leadership. Instead of just leaving the pages by themselves, they created a spotlight that gives a brief explanation of what a hybrid program is, and then provides a link to more information.
How you can replicate this spotlight on your website: Do you have any jargon that your programs, departments, or college use a lot? Call it out in a spotlight and explain what it is!
They also have a Student Spotlight that appears on all pages relevant to the online education programs, because the student they're featuring is enrolled in an online education graduate certificate program. And these spotlights are in addition to the other spotlights they have set to appear on all pages.
How you can replicate this spotlight on your website: Share your students' stories! Prospective students want to hear from current students. Have your current students give testimonials on how much they're enjoying their major or graduate program, and then feature that on the pages that are designed for your prospective students to visit.
I know there's a definite chance we missed some great spotlights, and I apologize in advance. I've been keeping a mental list of which sites have been using spotlights well, and I just didn't have the time to look through our 200+ sites to find them all!
If you see any great spotlights that deserve recognition, let me know and I'll include them here. As always, send any questions or comments my way at firstname.lastname@example.org.