06 Aug 2021

Helping new students get off to the best possible start

With this year’s A-level results announcement comes a new wave of students embarking upon their university careers. Whilst this is unquestionably a time of excitement and possibility, it can also be pretty daunting. For many, it will be their first time living away from home, and could well mean a move to a new city, or even country. It was this consideration that underpinned a recent brief from a client of ours, a Student Accommodation provider who was looking to fully streamline their new resident onboarding program, in order to make the lead up to move-in-day as simple and supportive as possible.

The Brief

Taking the period of time between booking and arrival, there was a need to tackle the information overload faced by their new customers. During this crucial introduction to life at their new student home, bookers were receiving an overwhelming array of communications across different channels before they arrived at their residence. We worked with our client to devise a digital pre-arrivals program that would:

  • Support residents in the completion of follow-up admin tasks relating to their booking
  • Encourage new-bookers to download the free residents’ app so that they can start benefiting from it’s features immediately
  • Provide clear communication in the lead up to arrival day
  • Reduce the number of pre-arrival enquiries
  • Make arrival day check-in as quick and seamless as possible
  • Ultimately, make each new resident feel part of the family, even before they physically arrive on site

Our Approach

Our first task was to deconstruct the pre-arrivals journey, clearly mapping all tasks that need to be completed and all of the information that ‘must’, ‘should’ and ‘could’ be communicated to new recruits. To do this, we brought together key team members’ across the business’s marketing, digital and resident liaison teams and worked together to build a clear picture of the current process and our shared ambition for the new, improved experience.

From here we were able to embark upon the solution design phase. Simplicity was key to our approach which looked to streamline the wealth of onboarding communications into a single source via the resident app and distributing only when relevant. The ultimate solution we were able to deliver included:

  • A program of timely push notifications direct to a users, prompting them to complete tasks or discover helpful information
  • The addition of a progress gate within the app that provides users with a visual representation of how close they are to completing their onboarding
  • A digital Tenancy Agreement with downloadable mobile copy
  • An interface that houses the full suite of Read and Sign steps in one handy place
  • Access to a QR code via the app that enables residents who have completed all onboarding steps to check-in by simply scanning their code upon arrival at their residence

Using clever tech, and well-timed comms, we were able to support students in getting off to the best possible start

Our ultimate ambition over the course of this project was to give residents the best start to their year as possible. At the heart of this lies student well-being, and ensuring that each new booker feels supported from the moment they confirm their purchase. We hope that this digital pre-arrivals program reduces confusion and creates a more manageable onboarding experience for every new booker this year!

Making our experience work for you

We have a huge range of experience in the PBSA + Education sector through our work with IQ Students, GSA, Scape, University of Salford and more. We're experienced in designing and building platforms that can make life better for your customers.

If you're interested in working with us to devise smart strategies that will improve your connection with your audience, don't hesitate to get in touch.

17 May 2021

The React framework advantage

We’re big fans of React at Catch. But just what is React, and how do we use it?

React is a JavaScript library used in web development to build interactive elements on the web. The main advantage for end users is the fast interactivity they’re provided with, as there should be very little reload time when new data is presented on their screen. This, in turn, leads to a more positive user experience.

The React advantage for End Users

As you probably know, we’re Drupal experts. Whilst Drupal is an excellent CMS for general website usage, there comes a time when users want a bit more which is when we reach for React to build a ‘web app’ to sit on a page.

Think of Google Maps, for example. What a pain it would be if there was a noticeable page refresh (such as clicking on a link and waiting for the page to reload) each time you zoomed in or out or panned across the map. React helps eliminate this friction, allowing elements to quickly load on a page as the user interacts with them.

React makes it painless to create interactive UIs. Design simple views for each state in your application, and React will efficiently update and render just the right components when your data changes.


The React advantage for Developers

React is a JavaScript library that at a fundamental level is used to build many components each with their own independent ‘state’ that tells the component what to do. If you think of a button on a website as a component, the state might include the colour, the text (e.g. ‘Click Here’) and the URL (e.g. ‘https://www.catchdigital.com’). As you build out your React project with components, it allows you to avoid the time-intensive process of coding and testing over and over meaning you can build new features and scale your application.

Developers can reuse the button all over the web app and update the ‘state’ of each of these using ‘props’. The advantage to this is that every button on the site will look and behave in the same way. Of course, components will be much more complicated than just a button, and can do more than just take a user from one page to another.

Below are some helpful definitions to understand the terminology used when discussing React.

  • State - The current data that is within the component, any time this is updated and the state changes, a re-render will take place
  • Props - This is how information or data is passed from one component into another. For example if we reuse the button analogy where have colour, text and url managed in the state of the button, we could also have disabled as a state. If the button component is associated with a contact form, we could set the disabled state of the button to be true until all of the fields of the form are completed and then update the state of the button component using props

Developers are able to reuse tested code and know that it will stand up to stress.

The React advantage for our clients

We now know that React is a data driven tool, and allowing our clients to manage the content for a data driven API means we can treat Drupal as a headless CMS for the output of JSON in an API format. New content can be created in the same way new pages can be created. The same goes for content within each page, reducing what could be a time intensive process to update their site (or multiple sites from one data source).

Some examples of our use of React

From quickly adapting to what the user is looking for on the TV Guide on our Freeview web platform:

To helping students filter and book available accommodation in London via IQ Student Accommodation:

To helping global telecommunication company SES provide users with the ability to search for satellite footprint information using their “Our Coverage” tool within their existing Drupal solution:

Or providing the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) Members with a quick and easy way to view Adspend data in a graph that instantly updates as you change dates and add filters:

Catch is experienced in offering our clients effective solutions that take advantages of all the benefits of React.

If you're ready to start your journey and see how we can help you improve your connection with your audience through smart technology like React, don't hesitate to get in touch.

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