Creating a student-centric experience to drive recruitment in education.


We’ve worked with numerous organisations in the education sector, but more recently with BIMM (British and Irish Modern Music Institute) & UCA (University for the Creative Arts).

Their aims were similar; to increase applications by creating an appealing online experience that helps prospective students to fully understand what each institution has to offer.

The Challenge

For universities, the scramble to attract students is more intense than ever; it’s been argued that there are now more places than there are able and willing students.

On top of these wider industry considerations, with BIMM and UCA our challenge was to create very information-rich websites that would appeal to a very specific type of student (creative/performing arts). Both already had clear and modern brand identities, and we needed to translate this into a cohesive online presence that would reflect the creativity of the students.

Universities are under more pressure to communicate their offer in a clear and engaging way.

Our Approach: Think, Design, Make

Our breadth of knowledge and understanding allowed us to design end-to-end experiences that went beyond recruitment and pushed deeper into the actual students’ expectations and desires.

Talking to students actually making their higher education choices was a crucial first step. We conducted interviews on campus and attended UCAS fairs, to understand the different influences at play when an individual is picking a university. It’s a decision that also tends to involve other groups such as parents and schools, so we also considered these to make sure we were building a rounded UX.

Taking Inspiration from beyond the Education Sector.

Students choose universities in much the same way as they choose other brands; we quickly realised that we had to deliver a digital experience that matched up to those that students would expect on sites like Pitchfork and Apple Music, rather than simply comparing to other education sites.

User journeys driven by student aspirations, not qualifications

Our user research also showed us that prospective students rarely land on a website with a specific course or qualification in mind. So, all of our user flows were driven by the need to understand the journey that students were on - what are their passions, their career goals? Then, the universities could intelligently recommend relevant information and course details.

Particularly with these two vocation-driven institutions, it’s less about showing dense information about modules, and more about highlighting graduate work, showcasing prominent alumni and emphasising state of the art facilities.

The Results

Our user-centric approach has driven recruitment up by 75% at BIMM, compared to the previous year’s application numbers under the old website. At UCA, all signs point towards a similar uplift in attention.

By placing our student insights firmly in the middle of the design process, we’ve ensured that acquisition remains high for two global education brands in a highly competitive sector.

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