The Connect2 homepage has been designed to ensure every university's services are presented to best effect. It supports the communication of strong branding, while also helping to connect with students on a practical level. With lots of room for important service info, it helps students stay up to date on department news. This might include changes to equipment checkout hours, new resources and how to access them or other important announcements.
Each academic year, the homepage is one of the first things new students see, so there's a valuable opportunity to contribute to a great first impression. Here's a step-by-step guide to setting up and making the most of your homepage. For further guidance or ideas, our Connect2 technical support team are ready to help, so please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Homepage step-by-step guide
All homepage editing can be achieved in the Homepage configuration area of the Connect2 system. Here's a rundown of how each area can be edited to make the most of your homepage:
1. Main homepage image
Photos used here vary by customer university but may show the equipment room, department or building. Some use more general images of the university as you would see in a prospectus. The example above from Butler University includes some great departmental branding from their College of Communication which runs the equipment store. Another good example from Brunel University shows students using the equipment on offer. It's easy to change the image away from the default picture - you are only limited by your imagination!
Some Connect2 customers temporarily change this picture to highlight a key announcement or dates in image format. It's an effective way to win users' attention the next time they come to reserve items, manage their bookings or check resource availability.
N.B. Different photos are displayed after logging in and are equally easy to change - contact us for further details.
2. Open hours
This area of the homepage is used by all institutions to clearly communicate their service hours for checkouts and check-ins. Often these details are made clearer with a heading that highlights the period they relate to e.g. Spring semester.
Some change the text color to emphasise any closed times - red is popular for this.
Key dates are often included here, e.g. last equipment checkout and return dates for the current semester.
It's interesting to see how some customers also include the odd hint or tip here e.g. to encourage students to pack equipment correctly before returning it.
3. Contact us
Contact details usually include the checkout store location, phone and email.
An FAQ link is included by some here to encourage students to find their own answers in Connect2 before making contact.
With the publication of their email address, some services also make clear that no resource bookings are accepted by email - that is after all what Connect2 is for!
4. Social media links
The homepage offers a great opportunity to encourage students to connect via social media. These usually include Facebook and Twitter, plus it's good to include a Youtube channel if you are one of those departments with lots of video output - true for many Connect2 customers! All you need to do is add the social media URLs in Connect2 and the linked icons automatically appear here.
5. Useful links
No two Connect2 systems are the same in what's been selected for inclusion in the useful links section. They might include FAQs, Connect2 introduction videos, equipment use videos, key product manuals or local info. For example, one university includes a link to film commission rules for filming in the local area.
This is a popular section for adding service or university news. If announcements are only made periodically, consider switching it off when there's nothing current to read. New announcements are more likely to be noticed and read this way.
Not all customers turn this section on, but it can be a useful place for advice and FAQs on using Connect2. Some add How-to videos here. University of Dundee use it to communicate information regarding borrowing restrictions, inductions and how to edit, renew or cancel bookings. Already, Connect2 cuts down on student email enquiries by around 50% and the homepage help section is one place to help boost this figure even further.
8. Use of color
Some of the most effective Connect2 homepages use font colours and emboldening to highlight and help organise key info. Here on Butler University's homepage, good use is made of green and red to draw attention to important text.
9. Latest from Twitter
If most service announcements are already made via twitter, it makes sense to publish your twitter feed as part of the Connect2 homepage. This could be in addition or in place of the Announcements section.
This section is used to highlight or reiterate key terms and conditions for borrowing items e.g. cancellations, prompt collections and returns, penalties, responsibilities when borrowing items etc.
You can also clarify here which students are eligible to use Connect2, e.g. if access is restricted to particular courses or depts.
Remember to get in touch for any advice or support in making the most of your Connect2 homepage. We look forward to hearing from you and wish you all the best preparing for the next intake of students.
With thanks to Butler University and Brunel University for use of your homepages in this article.