The College of Imaging Arts & Sciences at RIT is a place where art and technology merge. CIAS wanted a new site that would help facilitate recruitment, engage users and give control of the content to the faculty and staff. We delivered a scalable student showcase, career pathfinder, CIAS channel, gallery workflow and a robust faculty/staff section. We won several awards for this site including Addy Gold and the Center for Digital Education Best of the Web Award in the college-university website category.
The first thing we heard walking into the initial interview meetings for this project was, "we need to put the power in the hands of the people." The Dean wanted the faculty to be able to showcase student work, highlight what they were working on in their studios and capture what was happening in the classroom at a moment's notice. It was clear this project was going to require a long and thorough strategy phase to ensure all workflows for capturing the best content were in place.
Given the decline in high school graduates and the rising cost of tuition, higher education faces a significant challenge with recruitment. Statistics show that an increasing number of students will make their decision on a university before even setting foot on the campus, making the role of the website even more important. Another struggle CIAS faces is selling the pursuit of a creative career to parents. In reaction to this, as well as from some of our own experiences as alumni, we suggested building a pathfinder so that parents and students alike could match up creative skills with successful career paths.
The student showcase is a private space where only CIAS students can post their work, follow other students work, like other work and post feedback. Within two weeks of site launch there were over 800 projects posted from students in programs ranging from glass blowing to 3D animation. Program Chairs can select student work from the showcase (through a remarkably easy to use custom built interface) and add it to the public gallery. From there, the School Chairs can promote work to the homepage gallery keeping CIAS' web content fresh and relevant.
We made sure that every step of the process is streamlined so that students can quickly upload their most recent work and content stays fresh and relevant. This helps current students show off their projects and get feedback, while letting prospective students or employers see the latest and greatest work happening at CIAS.