With the Coronavirus pandemic and social distancing in full swing, all public events and exhibitions had been cancelled. For students graduating during this time, there was growing concern for their launch into the creative industry, as graduate shows, networking events and work placements were on hold.
The show must go on - To create an opportunity for students to show their work, make industry connections and launch their career, the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) commissioned the development a new online platform to showcase students, share news and personal successes stories, and draw attention to the new creatives entering the world.
Delivered In collaboration with Rhombus Studio, we developed the UWE Showcase - a digital exhibition and content hub for creative students, the first of its kind within the University's history.
- User Research & Interviews
- Website Prototypes (UX)
- Interface Design (UI)
- WordPress Development
- Maintenance & Support
To create a new user-generated content platform that represents diverse work of a wide range of creative subjects, with equal representation.
From journalism and animation, to fashion and virtual reality, the solution we create must provide students with a flexible system they can use to share their work as an individual, and collaboratively, without detraction from the subject matter.
With the pandemic forcing itself into our daily lives, we all had to adapt and evolve to new ways of working and communicating in time for the digital exhibitions launch, only a few months away.
The UWE Showcase website is a student-led content platform, allowing graduates to create a professional profile and upload multiple format of work including still image, video, audio and PDF content. To celebrate the collaboration across the university’s courses, students can also submit shared content to Events, News, Publication and Screening areas of the website, as well as creating Collaborative works that are shared with multiple student users.
To help UWE staff during an already busy period, and encourage take-up amongst already stressed students, we provided a dedicated support channel and help desk to guide students as they learn to use the new platform, actively developing usability sticking points in real time.
Launching in time with other national degree shows, the Showcase website introduced hundreds of new creatives to the creative industry at launch, providing them with a spring-board to share their work with potential employers. The Showcase website was supported by a print and digital marketing campaign around the city, to generate attention and buzz at the launch.
Working with the stakeholders
Developing a content platform that was intuitive to use, yet flexible enough to accommodate work from 26 under-grad and post-grad courses was essential. We worked with the university board, marketing team, course leaders, students and support staff, to learn how the project could help each group.
Working with a wide range of stakeholders can be challenging as there are often conflicting ideas between user groups. However, due to the importance of this project across the university, it was vital that everyone had an opportunity to share their opinion. We take all of this information, and distill it down into the essentials, which informs every decision we make when building a new digital product.
After the initial discovery phase, we designed and tested wireframes with each group to ensure the final product worked and was an accurate reflection of the people it represented.
Defining the visual
The vision for the project was to take a ‘white-cube’ approach, creating a minimal, stripped back interface that allowed student work to be the focus.
Working with Adrienne, the UWE Graphic Design course leader, and former tutor to one of the project’s designers, was invaluable in the development of the visual style. We all worked together to push the limits of the established UWE brand, creating a new visual language that puts students at the forefront, uninterrupted. The visual language we developed had to work across multiple content areas on the site, including a video screen room and news sections, as well as a highly functional back-end interface for creating and managing content.
As a part of the universities’ commitment to equal opportunities, a high level of web accessibility was also required. We built this into every decision in the design and development process, and we’re proud that the site could launch at double AA Website Content Accessibility Guideline level (WCAG-AA), ensuring the site can be enjoyed by people with a wide range of impairments and disabilities.