IIT Madras: AskIITM
We helped conceptualise, write and coordinate the development of the website for a new transparency initiative by India’s best engineering college.
In early 2022, IIT Madras, India’s best engineering college, started an initiative to help aspirants who write the competitive JEE examination make informed decisions. The ensuing research, conducted by our friends at CoreVoice, indicated several gaps. Primary among these was the lack of formal counselling - which meant youngsters were unable to interact with faculty before selecting a course and college. Alas, the physical counselling process stopped in 2010 and was replaced by an online form based application process. This meant the need for such aspirant-institute interaction only increased - especially in an age of information surfeit.
Long story short, this resulted in AskIITM - a platform through which IITM aspirants and their parents could ask any question around the institute ranging from courses to campus life, from placements to committees and even around mess food. The primary medium was a website, and the questions themselves would be answered by a core team of students identified by CoreVoice.
CoreVoice contacted Rough Paper to lead this initiative from a creative front.
- Coming up with the platform basics: The name, the campaign architecture and media properties, charting the user journey, figuring the manpower requirements from IITM, setting a questions-answering process for quick response time.
- Developing the UX for the site: The various sections, which questions / topics to highlight, the user flow, and so on.
- Writing the content for the site: Figuring the tone of voice (“friendly helpful senior”, we settled on), developing written content that explained the new initiative AND got people to either browse or ask their own questions.
- Coordination for website development: We partnered with a website design agency and an independent Webflow developer to bring the site to life. And yes, we made inevitable copy changes along the way.
- Collateral strategy and content: We helped the CoreVoice team with the entire media universe around the website - Instagram, YouTube, emailers (internal to students and stakeholders; and external to alumni and media), collaborations with student bodies like the video club, on-ground events, and so on.
- Copy-editing the responses: Over 1000 questions were asked, meaning around 1000 answers were needed. We set a process and tone of voice in place to make it easier for those answering, and gave a final read-through ourselves.
- Being a sounding board for CoreVoice and IITM: What categories to not answer. Script for a short internal video. Content for student secy email. We worked in a truly collaborative manner with the teams, working on all kinds of things.
Thankfully, the campaign did not involve reading any JEE material, which might have given Chuck some trauma from his engineering entrance exam days.
A promo video for AskIITM, conceptualised and scripted by us.
What this led to
The platform registered a thousand questions a month, which were more than the seats available for new B.Tech joinees for the institute. The quality of questions was high, and the overall process ensured a turnaround time of less than 4 hours. The entire campaign was appreciated by the IITM fraternity - from director to students to alumni. There was good coverage of the initiative by media (NDTV, India Today, HT), and the on-ground events saw good participation as well.
Ancillary channels saw good engagement as well - including Instagram and video.
Perhaps the most satisfying part of the entire project was receiving thank you mails from students and parents who told us the site truly helped them make informed decisions.
AskIITM worked well enough for the institute that it is being extended and enhanced in its next avatar. Plus, there is always the possibility that this model might be extended to other IITs and institutes of higher education as a new era of transparency is ushered in.
When we hired Rough Paper, the project didn't even have a clear brief - just a direction and an objective. From that simple 1-sentence goal, RP was able to fill up the idea-space. We then narrowed it down to one idea for which Deepak and Divya created an overall website brief, wireframes, and content style guides. They then collaborated with a design agency and developer to get the UX/UI researched, designed, and built. Their work on this project made our life easier as we could focus on other aspects of the project. We could just trust them to do the job - no approvals/oversight required. And no delays!
- Amrutash Misra, co-founder at CoreVoice
Partners in crime:
CoreVoice: Overall project coordination and leadership, on-ground events, IIT alumni/student/fraternity liaising
RiRev: Website design
Aditya Bohra: Website development in Webflow