Showcasing talent with the University for the Creative Arts

When one of the UK’s leading creative universities wanted to create digital counterparts for its annual graduation shows, we used our technical and creative expertise to bring it to life.

With student self-service, single sign-on integration and mobile-first design, we created an engaging way to share fantastic work with the entire world.

The challenge

Globalising amazing work

The University for the Creative Arts offers a wide range of creative courses across film & TV, textiles, print, media and advertising. Every year, the university hosts graduation shows – an opportunity to promote students’ work to friends, family, the public and potential employers.

With a multi-national student body and increased interest around the world, the university needed a way to host a virtual counterpart to the event.

A relaxed, easy experience

Traditionally, the university’s graduation shows are free flowing and informal. Attendees can explore various rooms and discover new graduates’ work for themselves. Working with the UCA team, we knew that any virtual alternative would need to mirror that same easy-going experience.

Supporting rich media

With such a diverse line-up of courses, the virtual graduation needed to support a wide variety of pieces. From videos and images to PDF files, we used our technical capability to develop an application that could house content on a huge scale – without compromising on performance.

Putting students in control

Preparing for a graduation event is a rite of passage for students. At the same time, manually uploading work from 800 students every year would be a considerable undertaking for the university team.

Our solution needed to put students at the heart of the process, not just uploading their own content but also adding bios and relevant links.

The solution

An intuitive online experience

We worked closely with the UCA team to plan, design, develop and launch a seamless online showcase.

A one-click approach to content

In a physical graduation show, there are few barriers between attendees and the work they’re there to see. We took several steps to replicate this experience online.

Recognising that the majority of traffic would be mobile, we created an app-like experience. We avoided using complex menus, instead putting work just one or two clicks away at any given moment.

Digitalising the social experience

In an effort to reflect the social feel of an in-person show, we adopted the visual style and layout of social media.

Visitors could browse a visual series of cards and graphics, choosing to explore further by clicking into courses and, in turn, study areas. It’s a quick, easy way to dig deeper into specific areas, or quickly scroll through multiple pieces.

Keeping things simple for students

To minimise the need for administrative support, we developed a simple portfolio upload for each student.

Crucially, we were able to integrate the website with the university’s Single Sign On system (SSO). As a result, they could immediately start building their portfolio using their existing credentials.

The results

Promotion on a global scale

The virtual graduation show website was first conceived just before the UK’s first lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. This gave the university a practical, ready to use alternative to in-person shows, which would have been difficult to hold safely.

The site was launched to a worldwide audience and remains a more global addition to the university’s programme of new graduate support.

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