Many higher ed institutions talk the talk about connecting with prospective students' top influencers - their parents....but I have seen few who really follow through, especially online.
I would appreciate any examples of Parent/Family specific web pages or microsites and why you think they are effective.
Here is our parent site: http://www.hamilton.edu/parents
We recently changed this site to be more of a resource to connect parents with the college - listing events, inviting parents to participate, and providing information geared toward first-time parents.
Before this point, it was more of a duplication of our news site, and we didn't have a great handle on the organization of the other information.
The section on information for parents of first-years is far and away the most popular page within the site, followed closely by tuition, banking and mailing information.
N.B. - The site is run by our development office.
At the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities (main) campus, we have had a very successful parent program for several years. We are in the midst of finally updating the parent website which outgrew its shell ages ago.
Before we started the redesign, we asked parents what they like about the site and what they'd like to see more of. For communications, parents rely mainly on our sporadic emails. The program director sends email highlighting topics of interest as things arise - not on a set schedule. For more information, those topics often lead to the parent website which then showcases the rest of our content.
Parents say they visit the site about once a month and when they do, they like to look at our "Timely Issues" section and the webcam that's located on our main mall. They also enjoy the question of the month on the home page. If they could add something to the site, it would be information specific to their student's year in college, which echos J.D.'s observation.
I suspected that prospective parents might be a big audience for the site, but it was smaller than I thought. Only 26% of the parents who responded to our survey had seen the site before their child became a student, while 58% said they did not look at the site until after their child was already at the U of M.
In our redesign, we plan to get a better handle on our overflowing content. Better organization, better design and code, updated photos, and finally content management are all big factors in the redesign. It's supposed to be live in early summer, so check it out now, but please come back to see the redesign. It's undoubtedly going to be better than the current site! :-)
This is the revised Parents page we completed a few months ago, a joint project between Admissions-Outreach, Center for New Students and Orientation and Marketing Services. We originally projected two different sections to speak to what we perceived to be two separate Parents audiences (Prospective and Current), but given current/past web traffic and an immense overlap of content, we have postponed the divided audience until we can identify a clear need. Content generally entails an aggregation of information found throughout our main website and which was deemed specifically relevant to Prospective Parents.
Regular communications also include a monthly Parents e-Newsletter (coordinated by Marketing Services) and a blog run by our Center for New Students and Orientation. The next planned step in our Parents communication strategy will involve a compete overhaul of the blog and increased blog presence on social media channels (Facebook, Twitter).
NOTE: We have not yet run any stats on web traffic to this page in order to assess the success of the redesign.
We plan to make legal guardians a constituency role in our web portal. We hope this provides guardians with a secure space to feel directly involved in the education of the student, while being able to receive targeted messages from various departments, notifications, alerts & event info, along with access to financial information (billing, scholarships, tuition, etc). However, it will of course be up to the student whether a guardian gets access or not, and what they can see if they do.
As for general, public information, here's our 'parents' site: http://www.berklee.edu/parents/
Our site is: http://www.fhu.edu/roles/parents.aspx
We use it as more of a landing page vs microsite for content we have in other places on our website. Prior to this implementation, most of our surveyed parents stated that Admissions, Financial Aid and Campus Life oriented information was their main concern.
The feedback that we've received from the freshmen class's parents has been positive overall.