If you’ve ever found yourself so immersed in the NC State Web site that you lost track of time, you’re not alone. In January, visitors spent so much time exploring the university’s site, they pushed NC State onto the list of the “Top 10 stickiest brands at home and work.”
The monthly list, compiled by Nielsen Online/NetRatings, measures sites that have the highest number of unique visitors and the longest length of time per visit. Nielsen compiles its online rankings with data gathered from a “MegaPanel” of 200,000 Internet users across the United States. The company tracks every click of the participants’ Internet usage on their home and work computers to gain a better understanding of how consumers respond to brands, products, services and promotions.
Tony Gnotek, director of sales at Nielsen Online, says it’s very unusual for a university to make the list, which typically includes sites that require users to stay online for long periods of time, like gaming sites. Making the list, “speaks highly of NC State’s Web design and content,” he says.
Tim Jones, director of Web Services at NC State, says the size of the site may also contribute to the amount of time visitors spend online.
“This ranking is really a testament to the strength and diversity of our content, and not just at the main level,” he says. “The site is huge with a lot of things to engage people.”
The site has information tailored to specific audiences, including prospective students and their parents, current students, employees, partners and alumni. There are extensive collections of pages for each of the colleges and business units within the university, as well as an online events calendar. The home page links to high traffic pages managed by the NCSU Libraries, News Services, and the Alumni Association, and also provides links to secondary pages for academics, research, outreach, campus life and athletics.
“One of the things you try to do when you create content is to work to form relationships with your users,” Jones says. “We’re doing that at NC State at a wide level.”
Jones says the site was redesigned two years ago to incorporate more multimedia elements, such as videos, audio podcasts, and photo galleries. And the site gives visitors the opportunity to share their stories online. Employees have online access to benefits and payroll information through My Pack Portal.
“We’re doing all the right things,” Jones says. “We’re speaking to the right audiences, providing relevant content and presenting new content in a timely manner.”
Among the other Web sites listed on Nielsen list of “sticky” sites are PokerStars.com, AOL Media Network, Yahoo, Electronic Arts Online and OneManga.com.