The Festival of the Mind is a collaboration between the academic expertise of The University of Sheffield and the creative and cultural talent of Sheffield.

The festival features music, art, lectures, heritage, local history, international stories, performance and dance, and all events are open to the public and free of charge.

For the inaugural festival in September 2012, The University of Sheffield launched an integrated media campaign to create broad awareness of the festival and to stimulate interest for each of the events.


To develop an easy-to-maintain campaign microsite with no budget in a short timeframe with the overall aim of encouraging attendance to the festival’s events.


A local Sheffield agency was commissioned as the creative partner for the festival to develop its visual identity. I developed a responsive website complete with WordPress CMS, taking lead from their designs.

User experience

I integrated a realtime Twitter feed into the homepage of the website to stimulate interest around the festival. Though a risky move, as at the time it was difficult to filter words from feeds, there was a strong level of awareness and engagement through Twitter.

The 150 events were spread far and wide across Sheffield and to make it easy for visitors to navigate to them I created custom Google Maps which were embedded throughout the website.

User interface

We anticipated the website being used on a desktop as well as mobile device, especially when visitors were navigating the streets of Sheffield to locate the events. With this in mind I built a responsive website – a first for The University of Sheffield!

As an outreach and engagement activity, it was important that The University of Sheffield branding was reflected in the design of the website.

The University of Sheffield website header including logo, global navigation and search was incorporated to bring in that familiarity.


Accurate attendance data wasn’t recorded for the inaugural festival but it is estimated that approximately 18,000 people attended events across the festival. Attendance for the second festival attracted an audience of 27,000 as well as national and international media coverage, and has since grown stronger securing funding from the Arts Council England and Royal Society.

Visit the Festival of the Mind website