Creative tech studio Method has built a virtual experience to bring to life the campus and personalise the University of Auckland for prospective students.
Your World Your Way is an innovative response to Covid-19 challenges, demonstrating the university’s commitment to explore new ways to support students.
User friendly and student-centric, it has proven to be an invaluable way to connect with prospective students and shape a pro-Auckland mindset.
Māori and Pasifika student’s viewpoints and feedback have been integral to the project with collaboration from inception, bringing faculty and culture on campus and Tāmaki Makaurau and Aotearoa to the forefront.
Visiting campus and exploring what’s on offer is the norm for prospective students of the University of Auckland. However, thanks to COVID-19, 2020 hasn’t been a year of norms.
Unable to provide the same level of face-to-face connection, the university has collaborated with creative tech studio Method to create an engaging online experience for prospective students to explore – Your World Your Way.
The fun, engaging digital platform uses a personalisation quiz to reshape the experience to suit each visitor, assembling a virtual tableau reflecting their most appealing version of Tāmaki Makaurau and the University of Auckland.
The interface groups together all the things that matter most to that visitor’s potential tertiary journey; for example course and enrolment information, Māori and Pasifika views on the University experience, extra-curricular activities, and accommodation and transport options.
A 3D object represents each area of information. In addition to bringing colour and personality to the interface, the exploration of these objects encourages deeper engagement and more time spent on the page. Making use of the university’s existing content, Your World Your Way presents a fresh, dynamic tool that feels aligned with the personalised, face-to-face engagement of a campus visit.
In particular, Method has brought the prominent place of Māori and Pasifika students, faculty and culture on campus and Tāmaki Makaurau and Aotearoa to the forefront. The project wasn’t just about creating an online experience for potential students; it needed to cater to their influencers, including friends and whānau looking for assurance and credibility.
It was essential that this virtual campus engaged the potential students of today, not presenting a nostalgic view of campus life filtered through adult eyes. The experience needed to be fun, clear and intuitive, with the ability to get to the right information quickly.
The project grew out of a genuine need to provide something personal for each visitor, that could show them the parts of campus and city life that would appeal to them the most. It was also a genuinely collaborative project, with the University of Auckland and Method working closely through lockdown to bring it together.
Created in just three months, with much of the work done from homes across Auckland, it required an unprecedented level of collaboration, lateral thinking and trust, both within the client’s complex organisation and with the Method team. Despite the unfamiliar context of lockdown and the physical separation, a unified and joyful working relationship grew as the digital experience took shape.
Chief digital officer Stephen Whiteside says that the university is incredibly proud of this innovative project and has worked tirelessly to deliver this ambitious and unique experience while in lockdown: “Our goal was to produce a distinctly different experience for future students to explore what the university has to offer without having to be at the campus physically.
“Taking it a step further, we created a brand new, playful and interactive way to connect. A virtual front door that unifies information, places and spaces to explore and connections to make”
Says Sam Ramlu, managing director at Method: “It’s been an incredibly exciting project to work on and a genuine collaboration. We’ve felt extremely privileged to have access to, and support from, people across multiple teams and departments within the University of Auckland.
“Our client laid down a big challenge, but we couldn’t be happier with the reception – especially from the target user audience.”
The praise from early users has been excellent. Rachael, 16, said “Everything was really clear and it was fun. I hadn’t thought about going to Auckland. I would consider finding out more now.” Charlotte, also 16 reports she was “on there for 20 minutes having a good time. I definitely know more about Auckland Uni than I did before.” Izumi, 19, said it was “easy to navigate and is much better than having to awkwardly contact a careers advisor.”
The Your World Your Way project, has been enthusiastically embraced within the University of Auckland.
For Michael Steedman, Kaiarataki pro vice-vhancellor (Māori): “The project is a great example of what the University of Auckland is doing to serve our student’s needs. It delivers the kind of interaction our international students can relate to and, through a world-class digital experience. Method were respectful of the kaupapa around incorporating Maori and Pasifika culture and worked with our team to co-design a truly representative experience.”
The digital platform is more than one-off marketing; it serves as the first phase of a much larger user experience project: a virtual campus model.
Both Method and the University of Auckland knew they could not rush this big picture project, designed to create more robust engagement with students at every stage of the journey – prospective, current, and alumni. It will also be built for growth, developing and evolving to create an even richer online experience.
Client: Vanessa Pye, Stephen Whiteside
Strategy & Planning: Sam Ramlu, Matt Power
Design Director: Matt Power
Design Team: Sophie Douglas, Lahiru De Silva, Roshan Nowshad
Development Team: Caitlin Palmer, Matt van der Haas, Preston Thomas, Gardner Bickford, James Bosworth, Andrew Welsh
Writer: Mark Easterbrook
Videography and editing: Ben Journee
Producers: Sam Ramlu, Hannah Rogers
Client: The University of Auckland