Case Study
VCU Make it real

Project goals:

Recruiting high-caliber students, faculty, and staff to VCU

Creating a two-way conversation and generating authentic content

Shaping the conversation on multiple platforms - digital, out-of-home, broadcast, etc.

The project asked users a simple question: “What’s your ‘it’?” The prompt plays off of VCU’s “Make it real” campaign. The cornerstone of the project was a website where students fill in the blank in “Make ____ real” to share their VCU story.

My role:

As a UI/UX designer, my deliverables included wireframing, whiteboarding, and a high-fidelity prototype. I pitched UI concepts weekly to a creative team that included a creative director, developer, copywriter, social media expert and a marketing director.


I presented three major UI designs to the creative team:


Idea 1

An animated, fun website that displays a web of icons representative of VCU’s 84 academic degrees and disciplines. The audience could submit photos or videos that represent their “it” to add to the site, and color coding would filter like interests. The team decided that creating 84 individual icons to represent each degree or discipline was not feasible. Back to the drawing board.


Idea 2

An interactive site designed to function as a social media channel. Using an existing Tumbler API, I’d create an interactive wall and invite users to create their own window on it to shows what “it” they are making real. Users could comment on each other’s “it's” and a mapping feature would filter like-minded posts to facilitate connections. Development time made this idea prohibitive.


Idea 3

Using the bold, candid images from the original “Make it real” website on a large grid wall system, adding white space and linking each square to a user’s personal “How I made it real” pop-up page that could be shared on social media. This concept was selected. I designed the UI for mobile and tablet.


Final thought

It was challenging to narrow down the opinions of a large team to a unanimous UI design. The site has strong user engagement, with ongoing digital and print ads driving repeat users to the site to share their “it.”


Won an Award

Best website at 69th Virginia Public Relations Award

User Interface   /   User Experience   /  Digital Design   /   Interactive Design   /  Creative Direction

© 2020 by Gayle Barton.