Why Bio Pages Matter
By Debra Torres
I was excited to take the novel-writing course offered by Writer’s Digest magazine and looked forward to see who would be teaching me. The school was pairing me up with a published author, and I thought it was a great way to learn from someone who had been down the same road I wanted to travel.
But when I looked at my instructor’s bio, I stopped short. She wrote in a completely different genre than I did, and there was something about her picture that seemed wrong to me.
After getting some advice, I decided to switch my instructor to one more suited to my work.
Can you believe that a simple bio made that much difference to me?
How faculty bio pages rank
When you take a minute to think about what’s “selling” degree programs on the web to high school juniors and seniors, you may be surprised to find out that faculty bio pages rank pretty high with future students.
Besides looking at things on higher education sites like job placement stats, testimonials, and program videos, some potential students are also making it a point to look at faculty bios.
The 2015 Ruffalo Noel Levitz E-Expectations Report showed that faculty profiles factor in with users.
And according to Liberty’s Search Engine Optimization specialist, Diane Austin, there were 1,506 searches that included the word “faculty” on the Liberty University website in the past 12 months.
What kind of shape are your pages in?
Here on the Web Content team, we’ve seen a lot of the bio pages on the Liberty website. There are some good ones, and there are some that need work. And because future students sometimes search these when they choose a school, we feel that it’s important to prioritize them.
What makes a good faculty bio page
We’ve got so many things going for us here at Liberty, and one of them is our esteemed faculty. They’re degreed, experienced, accessible to students, and they’re photogenic! All of these things you want to highlight on your bio pages. Some of the other things you may want to add are their publications and biography.
They have degrees!
Sometimes you have to really dig into a bio to find out if a professor is degreed or not. As an institute of higher learning, a highly educated faculty is a feature we want to highlight. Make sure to bring your faculty member’s education to the top of your bio page. And list the degrees with the most recent at the top.
Check out what the web users at the Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine did recently to highlight its faculty’s degrees. They also added a biography section:
They have experience!
Here’s where you get to show off what work your faculty members have done in their field. To me, this is almost as important as their degree listing. When I was in graduate school, I wanted to learn from faculty who had actually worked in the field that I planned to enter. I wanted to hear their stories and learn from their mistakes. When you leave out your faculty’s experience, you’re only giving our future students “part of the story.”
They are accessible!
Letting your students know how to contact your faculty is important. And email addresses should be completely displayed so that users can see the address on any device. To use our address, for example, display it like this: “email@example.com” as opposed to “email us.”
They are photogenic!
Faces help to establish a personal connection. And up-to-date faculty photos that have similar backgrounds with others in your department helps to create a sense of unity and consistency in your design. If your faculty photos could use a fresh look, contact your Marketing project coordinator to find out when the next studio headshot day is.
What not to add to your page
Now that you’ve learned what to add to a bio page, let’s talk about a few things to leave out.
- Too much information — If your faculty member has a long list of presentations or publications to share, limit your listing to the latest five. This way it brings their most recent contributions to the front for your users to see.
- Anything time sensitive — Nobody wants to have to keep updating their bio pages. Most likely, this will get overlooked over time, and your page will end up looking outdated.
- Highly personal text — Keeping your bio page professional is best. A little information about family helps to humanize a piece, but info that includes pet names and favorite foods is better left in your faculty’s personal social media pages.
- Faculty start dates — This could communicate a negative if a recent hire is new to teaching.
Need a good example?
Show off your faculty with a great bio page. Here are some examples to follow that are on the Liberty website:
Meet the Author:
Web Content Specialist — LU Web Content Team