The homepage of the Royal College of Art with a menu and "apply for programmes starting 2020"

Daring to design differently with the RCA

Discover how we started a digital renaissance for global art institution the Royal College of Art – transforming their original website with a forensic focus on the user experience and ultimately increasing student applications by 164%.

Three mobile screens from the RCA website

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A dynamic digital experience

As one of the world’s top art schools, the RCA thinks differently, attracting people who want to absorb knowledge and bring about radical change. But its website wasn’t living up to this daring vision.

Chaotic and unclear, students were struggling to access the information they needed, content didn’t drive engagement, and prospective applicants were put off taking that next step.

The RCA needed a game-changing solution – a new digital experience worthy of the institution’s prestige and the talent it draws. We set about redesigning an AA-compliant, accessible site with sophisticated design at its core.

A black and white screen grab from the RCA website.


From chaos to clarity

After a comprehensive content audit, competitor and comparator review, and user and stakeholder interviews, we developed core areas of the website to inspire, engage, and guide students as they interact with the RCA.

This included designing templates and flexible components to support the site’s crucial Research, Knowledge Exchange, and Innovation sections. We took an agile approach to project delivery, with sprint planning, reviews and retros, and daily scrums, to ensure optimum organisation and transparency.

Two screen grabs from the RCA website, showcasing their programmes.


Agility meets flexibility

Our modular approach was influenced by the school’s brand positioning: ‘Radical Traditionalism’. We designed a suite of functional building blocks to construct pages. But we intentionally offset type and image alignment, rejecting conventionality. While accessibility comes from switching up the main body font, clean typography, and large, immersive imagery.

This flexible, scalable solution was centred around the user experience. It opens up the width of the canvas, creating new breakpoints to make it more responsive across all devices.

Three screen grabs from the RCA website


Minimal design, maximum transformation

With prospective student enquiries growing by more than 300% in the first recruitment cycle after the website launched, the website’s impact is plain to see.

An accessible, scalable design with a straightforward user journey has been highly effective for the RCA. Not only has it improved the digital experience for the current crop of students it’s also attracting the change-makers of the future.

Two screens from the RCA website, side by side


Beyond’s team were extremely skilled and had the variety of expertise needed to deliver fully on our requirements. They were also willing to go the extra mile where needed and, as a result, our new page templates are stunning and have been very well received.”
Emma Bayne
Chief Technology Officer and Head of Digital Delivery, RCA
Design system for RCACollage of screen grabs from the RCA design system
16 weeks

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