Top 8 University Website Design Agencies of 2024 [+5 Point Selection Guide]

Universities and higher ed institutions have complex website design and development challenges. The best way to mitigate the risk in a new website design rollout is to hire and agency with a proven higher ed track record.

In today’s competitive higher education landscape, universities cannot afford to take website design lightly. Choosing the wrong agency can result in a website that fails to engage users, communicates the wrong message, or worst yet, fail to convert visitors into applicants. This can lead to lower enrollment rates, and ultimately hinder a university’s ability to achieve its mission. By selecting a reputable and experienced website design agency that specializes in higher education, universities can ensure that their website is not only visually appealing, but also user-friendly, accessible, and optimized for their specific needs and goals.

Website Design and Development Agencies for Universities and Higher Ed Institutions

This is a list of website design and development agencies that have a proven track record in working with higher education institutions.

vital marketing agency logo

[Sponsored Listing]

Vital has built strong partnerships with higher education institutions based on a metrics-driven approach. Vital’s website design services for higher ed include website design, development (in WordPress), website strategy, user experience analysis, and hosting and server support.

Visit their website to learn more: https://vitaldesign.com/

vital marketing agency logo

Vital.

Location: Portsmouth, NH

Year Founded: 2001

Total Employees: 70-80

Website: https://vitaldesign.com/

Vital has worked with higher ed institutions for over a decade. However, they’ve been around since 2001. Vital has been recognized for their website design philosophy and their metrics-driven approach providing website designs that are based on data and their own testing. They pay close attention to search engine optimization best practices to ensure the new website design performs well in search engines, while also designing an experience that drives conversion so schools can fill their pipelines.

They provide the following website design and development services:

  • Website Design
  • Website Development (in WordPress)
  • User Experience Analysis
  • Hosting and Server Support
  • Plugin Development

Vital combines the above services to design a high-performance website, then drive quality traffic to the website, and finally convert the traffic using conversion rate optimization (CRO) tactics.

Their higher ed website design development portfolio includes:

  • University of San Diego [Case Study]
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of New Hampshire
  • University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • University of Connecticut [Case Study]
  • College for America

To learn more about Vital, visit their website:https://vitaldesign.com/

Up&Up

Location: Greenville, SC

Year Founded: 2002

Total Employees: 10-20

The team at Up&Up understands the difficulties faced by higher education leaders. The current situation presents limited resources, higher costs, a shrinking pool of qualified students, and an impending ‘enrollment cliff,’ which could have significant consequences without proactive measures. They possess the necessary knowledge, expertise, and eagerness to guide teams towards success, as they have done on numerous occasions before. Up&Up has helped numerous colleges and universities compete and thrive in a declining higher education market.

They provide the following website development services:

  • Strategy and Planning
  • Website Design
  • Website Development
  • Accessibility Testing

The team at Up&Up begins with insights that gain input from internal and external stakeholders, both on-campus and online. Then they dive deep into content structure, analytics assessments, user personas and user scenarios. Development follows a process that is wholly unique in order to manage the specific needs of your university’s  website, including accessibility testing.

Their university website design portfolio includes:

  • Universtiy of Kentucky
  • Gardner Webb University
  • Florida State University College of Education

To learn more, visit their website: https://upandup.agency/

OHO Interactive

Location: Somerville, MA

Year Founded: 1998

Total Employees: 30-40

Since 1998 the team at OHO Interactive has designed over 135 websites for higher ed institutions. OHO Interactive works with universities to understand their prospective student journeys and generate enrollments (not just leads). In addition to focusing on digital marketing for student enrollments, they also run capital campaign drives.

They provide the following website development services:

  • Strategy and Planning
  • Website Design
  • Website Development
  • Accessibility Testing

With a proven process and a team of experts, they move with your team to set a new strategy to elevate your school’s perception. During the process, they’ll use user research to fix your college or university website user experience, reimagine the visual design, define a brand architecture, launch a new content strategy, and rebuild on new content management system.

Their university website design portfolio includes:

  • Illinois Tech
  • Hardin Simmons
  • Dartmouth Admissions
  • St. John’s University

To learn more, visit their website: https://www.oho.com/

carnegie higher ed logo

Carnegie 

Location: Westford, MA

Year Founded: 1985

Total Employees: 350

For over 35 years, Carnegie has established itself as a leader and innovator in higher education marketing and enrollment strategy. They offer groundbreaking services in the areas of Research, Strategy, Digital Marketing, Lead Generation, Slate Optimization, Student Search, Financial Aid Optimization, Website Development, and Creative, generating authentic connections between colleges and students.

They provide the following website development services:

  • User Experience Design
  • Content Strategy
  • User Research
  • Technology Services

In 2021 Carnegie acquired the higher ed marketing agency, mStoner. mStoner, established in 2001, has earned a reputation for crafting powerful, tailored, and human-centric online experiences that allow institutions to tell their unique stories and illuminate their brands. They have worked with over 350 colleges, universities, and professional schools in the United States and abroad.

In October of 2021, mStoner joined the Carnegie family and became the Carnegie Web Team. As part of this new team, mStoner continues to bring its expertise to help institutions create online experiences that engage and inspire their audiences, while also benefiting from the resources and services offered by Carnegie.

Their university website design portfolio includes:

To learn more, visit their website: https://www.carnegiehighered.com/

Echo Delta Logo, A Higher Education Marketing Agency

Echo Delta

Location: Winter Haven, FL

Year Founded:

Total Employees: 20-30

Echo Delta is a full-service enrollment marketing agency for higher education. They help higher education institutions drive enrollment, increase yield, and capture donors’ attention through their integrated marketing services. They focus on digging deep to find effective ways to share the unique stories of colleges and universities.

They provide the following website design and development services for higher ed institutions:

  • Information Architecture and Content Strategy
  • Responsive Web Design (UI/UX)
  • Custom WordPress Development
  • Website Accessibility

The team at Echo Delta is comprised of multitalented professionals with diverse skills and professional chops to address your most pressing enrollment marketing challenges. They can be thought of as an in-house department that you won’t need to find desks for, providing a seamless integration into your organization.

Their higher ed client portfolio includes:

  • Florida Polytechnic University
  • University of the Ozarks
  • Saint Leo University
  • Polk State College Foundation
  • University of Florida
  • Warner University
  • Florida Southern University

To learn more about Echo Delta, visit their website: https://echodelta.co/

Logo for ERI Website Design Agency, For Higher Ed

ERI

Location: Boston, MA and Portland, ME

Year Founded: 2005

Total Employees: 15-25 

ERI Design Studio is an award-winning creative digital agency founded in 2005. They specialize in website design for higher education institutions, including universities. The agency is dedicated to solving complex communication challenges faced by academic institutions by producing high-quality digital solutions that elicit emotion, inspire action, and help institutions thrive. The team at ERI Design Studio has the expertise to handle all of their clients’ institution’s digital needs.

Their website design and development services include:

  • Research & Strategy
  • UI & UX Design
  • Website Development (WordPress & Drupal)
  • CMS Implementation
  • ADA Compliance

Their website redesign portfolio includes:

  • Worcester State University 
  • Clark University 
  • Endicott College

To learn more, visit their website: https://www.eridesignstudio.com/

Logo for Austin Williams Marketing Agency

Austin Williams

Location: Hauppauge, NY
Year Founded: 2004
Total Employees: 50-60

A combination of Madison Avenue veterans and young marketing professionals make up Austin Williams, a creative agency that fosters audacious thinking. Their environment brings together passionate and creative individuals, as well as control freaks, all working towards a common goal. With decades of expertise in higher education marketing, they integrate the latest web development practices to build websites for colleges and universities that stand out and attract students.

By understanding what students and parents seek during the college search process, Austin Williams creates tailored journeys with messaging, architecture, and conversion paths. These well-planned paths turn prospects into applicants and successful applicants into enrolled students, effectively driving results.

Their services include:

  • Website Development (WordPress)
  • CMS Development
  • Slate & CRM Optimization

Their higher ed client portfolio includes:

  • University of Cambridge
  • Fordham
  • Stony Brook University
  • St. Joseph’s College

To learn more, visit their website: https://www.austinwilliams.com/

Logo for HEM Agency

HEM

Location: Montréal, Quebec

Year Founded: 2008

Total Employees: 30-40

Combining digital marketing and advertising, CRM, SIS, and consulting services, HEM is a one-stop-shop for all digital student recruitment needs. Their range of products and services can empower every aspect of a school’s online presence. They can help institutions attract more prospects through digital channels, automate and scale follow-up processes, and facilitate online applications and enrollments. HEM has been a partner of institutions of all shapes and sizes for over a decade. They offer everything needed to convert more students online.

Their website design and development services:

  • Mobile-Friendly Responsive Design
  • UX Design
  • Multilingual Website Development

Their client portfolio includes:

  • McGill
  • John Cabot University
  • Canadian College of Health, Science, and Technology

To learn more, visit their website: https://www.higher-education-marketing.com/ 

 How to Choose the Right Website Design Agency for Your University

Ok, so you’ve seen the list, there’s a lot of options here, so how do you choose which agency is right for you?

1. Look for experience in higher education website design: It’s important to choose an agency that has experience designing websites specifically for higher education institutions. Look for agencies that have a portfolio of previous work with universities and colleges.

2. Consider their approach to user experience: The website should be designed with the user experience in mind, especially for prospective students who are the primary audience. Check if the agency considers the user’s journey, interests, and needs when creating the design.

3. Check if they offer content strategy and development: The website design agency should have the ability to develop a content strategy and create compelling content to help tell the institution’s story. Content is critical in attracting, engaging, and converting prospects.

4. Ensure their team has diverse expertise: Choose an agency that has a diverse team with expertise in different areas such as design, development, content strategy, and marketing. A diverse team can bring fresh perspectives and ideas to the project.

5. Evaluate their communication and project management skills: Clear communication and effective project management are essential for a successful website design project. Choose an agency that has a reputation for effective communication, prompt responses, and efficient project management.

Five Common Mistakes Universities Make When Selecting Agencies

 

Here are five common mistakes people make when choosing a website design agency, along with tips on how to avoid them:

1. Not defining clear goals and requirements: One common mistake is not defining clear goals and requirements for the website. This can lead to confusion, misunderstandings, and unsatisfactory results. To avoid this, take the time to establish clear goals, expectations, and requirements for the website design project before selecting an agency.

2. Choosing an agency based solely on price: Price is an important factor, but choosing an agency solely based on price can be a mistake. Low prices may mean that the agency is cutting corners or lacks experience. It’s better to consider the agency’s experience, expertise, and quality of work, in addition to the price.

3. Not considering the agency’s portfolio and references: Another mistake is not reviewing the agency’s portfolio and references. This can lead to selecting an agency that does not have experience in the desired area or does not produce quality work. Always review the agency’s portfolio and ask for references from previous clients.

4. Failing to consider the agency’s communication skills: Poor communication is a common issue that can lead to misunderstandings, missed deadlines, and frustration. Before choosing an agency, evaluate their communication skills and responsiveness. Make sure they are transparent, provide regular updates, and respond promptly to questions and concerns.

6. Neglecting to ask about their process and methodology: A mistake some companies make is neglecting to ask about the agency’s process and methodology. It’s important to choose an agency that has a well-defined process for website design projects. This helps to ensure that the project runs smoothly, stays on schedule, and meets the established goals.

To avoid these mistakes, take the time to research potential website design agencies thoroughly. Make sure to define clear goals and requirements, consider the agency’s portfolio and references, evaluate their communication skills, and ask about their process and methodology. Don’t base your decision solely on price, and be sure to ask questions to clarify any doubts or concerns you may have.