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Ravensbourne Degree Show 2021

Ravensbourne Degree Show 2021

Ravensbourne University London commissioned MTJ to work across all aspects of their 2021 online degree show.

To create the show we worked closely with staff from across the university to create a site that visually was closely related to the 2020 degree show, but behind the scenes used a system that allowed students and staff a high level of control over the content at large scale.

The 2021 degree show benefitted from a long period of planning, beginning soon after the 2020 show. We sought to create a system that allowed students and staff the ability to control every aspect of their content right up until launch date. We also needed a system that was affordable, flexible and could scale to allow 1000s of students to simultaneously upload. In addition the need for a yearly degree show website meant the whole database should be archivable and work on a university's own servers.

To this end we built the backend of the website with Wordpress. Wordpress is the worlds most popular content management system and is open source. This gives it some real advantages over other systems. For Ravensbourne the key advantages are that we can have as many users as we desire, each being able to edit their own content; integration with university login systems are possible (Google, Microsoft and other single sign on systems are all simple to integrate); finally Wordpress works very well as a backend allowing a modern front end system to serve as the public facing site.

We used GatsbyJS​ as the front end for Ravensbourne. Gatsby themselves were very interested in the project and were helpful throughout. Wordpress integration with Gatsby has a huge amount of support and was another key reason for choosing these two systems, we're confident that the large communities behind both projects will keep this a very relevant combination for some time.

The Wordpress site itself was customised to allow carefully crafted experiences for each type of user: Students, Editors, Staff Administrators etc. To that end we created a number of custom plugins for Wordpress with particular focus on the student experience and editorial process.

To create the work each student would log into the back end with their normal Ravensbourne credentials (which used the normal Microsoft single sign on they would use anywhere else at Ravensbourne). This would allow a student to create a single portfolio page and edit it at any stage. After publishing, or updating their submission, a student could instantly see a review page of their content in Wordpress, and then follow a link to see their work on the Gatsby front end website with a special 'preview' link. This empowered the students and helped them feel in control of their own degree show.

MTJ provided an editorial team to manage the process of editing student submissions, communicating back to the staff at Ravensbourne about all changes and corrections. Systems built within Wordpress made this process seamless and recorded revisions of every change.

The degree show website built upon the identity created last year. This year the identity draws from images across the student submissions to create an ever changing reveal of the fantastic work from students across the university.