case study

Middlesex University Graduate Platform


Middlesex University is one of the top modern universities in the UK source: Times Higher Young University Rankings.

The University is a truly global organisation with campuses in London, Dubai, Mauritius and Malta and is divided into 3 categories:

Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries
Faculty of Professional and Social Sciences
Faculty of Science and Technology

In early 2020 with the outbreak of Covid-19 it became apparent that the University would be unable to host their annual event for the graduates.  In previous years graduates were able to exhibit their work in halls to fellow students, professors and potential employers. A place where over 800 students could celebrate their hard work and demonstrate their knowledge and professionalism in chosen courses.

Why Wirebox?

In 2018 Wirebox were requested to design and build MDX Minds – a portal for students and a source of information relevant to all MDX students, it allows the University to research news and thought provoking news from the experts around 7 key topics:

  • Arts
  • Business & Economics
  • Education
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Law & Politics
  • Science & Technology
  • Social Commentary

The MDX Minds site was built using the Open Source Content Management System (CMS) WordPress and Wirebox were called to assist again, to see if we could bring the previously public exhibition alive and online.

MDX Creative Graduates

The categorisation of the Programmes was not too dissimilar to the previous built site, but the main difference was that over 800 students were looking to exhibit their work, promote themselves to potential employers online.

There would be seven upper tier categories of Programmes to include Media, Dance, Music and Arts with each upper tier category to include individual programmes such as:

  • Design: Interior Design, Fashion Design, Interior Architecture, Fashion Communication & Styling and Interior Design
  • Music: BA Jazz, BA Music, BA Popular Music & BA Music Business & Arts Management
  • Science & Technology: BSC Architectural Technology Hons, Product Design

Our Approach

With over 800 students across 33 programmes and students located in multiple countries, a great deal of planning was undertaken to understand the requirements and objectives of MDX, the Professors and most importantly the value to the Students. 

Each of the 33 Programmes would have an individual Professor to approve, reject or comment on an individuals content.  A Professor from Science and Technology would not be able to approve content from a student in Interior Design for example – the database would need to understand this grouping and user level. 

Time was of the essence, the year 3 students had graduated and were all keen to display their profiles, projects and group work.  With time frames being so tight there wasn’t time for each student to be validated throughout the platform, we needed to find a solution to “Approve” students within the portal, without having the busy Professors manually doing so.

It was decided to allow students to register only on the basis that they had an MDX official email address, without this the system was designed to not allow fake registrations or users from outside the community.  This saved the Professors and Administrators a great deal of time and administration, also allowing Wirebox to concentrate fully on the database structure and permissions. 

Once the structure was mapped out, it was down to the developers to architect the correct approach for a successful project.  Many different platforms were considered, from Commercial offerings to Open source CMS systems we would be able to adapt, but this was a complex project, a technical project which was totally bespoke to MDX and an “off the shelf” system was not the correct approach. 

Wirebox proposed to develop the solution utilising the Laravel framework.

The Project Included:

  • Build for ease of use, there was no time to train or buddy students to load Profiles, Projects or Content – this needed to work without training Graduates or Administrators of the site
  • Wireframe the site with a functional specification
  • Utilisation of Laravel – to develop the bespoke platform for scalability & adaptability and future use. This was to be the first year this platform was to be used, but not the last
  • QA analysis by our in-house testing team against the project documentation to ensure the platform performed as expected.
  • Numerous stakeholder meetings & a brief training session on the platform
  • User Guides and documentation, Student Guide, Approver User Guide.

Outcomes

In June 2020 “Creative Graduates” was launched to the Year 3 Graduates of MDX.

It was a phased launch, we didn’t want the general public to view the site whilst students hadn’t uploaded content. This site was to represent the students and their work, but also represented Middlesex University and to promote the amazing work their Professors and team do.

https://creativegraduates.mdx.ac.uk/

https://creativegraduates.mdx.ac.uk/2020/categories/design – Tier 1

https://creativegraduates.mdx.ac.uk/2020/programmes/ba-fashion-textiles – Tier 2

https://creativegraduates.mdx.ac.uk/2020/students/3/skye-wilson – Student

 

I cannot express enough just how grateful we are to Wirebox for their speedy, high-quality work. With the coronavirus situation impacting a lot of our normal business processes, we required the turnaround of a complex website in very little time. Wirebox went above and beyond, delivering a brilliant website with an attractive design, web governance conformity and smooth functionality – and it all went from brief to finished product within about two months. We could not be happier with the result, and are especially glad to say Wirebox remained friendly, constructive and professional the whole time. Will definitely be working with them again in future.

Sweta Rana

Web Manager, Middlesex University

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