COVID-19 presented many challenges, one of which was restrictions on in-person events. Because of the timing, it meant rethinking a way to celebrate the success of the graduates at Northern Vermont University. To that end, I worked on building out a celebratory microsite that students could use to share their accomplishments.

This is a screenshot of the landing page for the campus celebrations.

One of my co-workers handled the video components of the project which allowed me to focus my time on making the website. I made use a of Jekyll to generate the website from a spreadsheet containing the names of the graduates. Because the entire site was built from the spreadsheet, changes were as easy as swapping out the old spreadsheet for the new one.

Graduate names are both searchable and browsable in our traditional groupings.

Each student has their own page on the site which could easily be shared out to family and friends. It includes information about their degree(s) earned and a virtual diploma sleeve. A photo of the graduate and a personal message were also included on the page if provided. All graduates also had their name professional read aloud similar to our traditional commencement.

Individual pages still look great, even without the optional student-provided content.

One of my goals for the project was to encourage sharing of these individual pages. I used Python to generate individual graphics for every student based on the same spreadsheet providing data for the site itself. I also added Open Graph properties to the pages metadata to enable rich previews when sharing to Facebook and Twitter.

All graduates could download graphics to share on their own in two different sizes and styles.

An Exceptional Redesign

NVU Marketing and Communications received a Grand Gold award in the CASE District I Excellence Awards in the Special Event Pivot category. Judges commented that it was “a truly exceptional re-design” and that “other schools can learn from [our] work”.