Development Update: Contest UX Overhaul, New Project Search and a Sneak Peak

Development Update: Contest UX Overhaul, New Project Search and a Sneak Peak

We quietly dropped a few updates to upgrade our Contest platform, and released some new features for project searching. Learn more about them, and see what is coming next!

Like a duck swimming effortlessly around a pond, our small team of developers might look chill, but underneath the water, our legs are flapping around like crazy. Constantly adding new features, improving server speeds, automating processes... all with the purpose of making The Rookies the best possible community platform for creatives.

Unfortunately, many of these tasks are completed, then closed in Github, and never shared with anyone. But today, I wanted to share a few updates that I know will be of interest to you.

Contest UX Overhaul

One of the most advanced areas of our platform is our Contest Management System. The backend portion of the tool is a beast. It's arguably one of the best systems for running creative contests available today. But let's be honest, the front-end, what you get to interact with on a daily basis, can be pretty confusing and difficult to navigate.

To solve this legacy issue, I took a step back and looked at ways I could improve the User Experience and tackled the following issues.

Check out the new updates by following this link below, or keep reading...

Contests | Challenge yourself and Improve skills
Enter regular design briefs and challenges to help improve your skills.

New Contest Homepage

Previously, our homepage was all about showing off contest entries. The idea was to make sure everyone could see your amazing work, but in retrospect, it really didn't make sense when the primary focus was to introduce existing members and visitors to active contests, and what contests have happened in the past.

What you'll now see with the new homepage is a clear overview of what actual contests are active. You'll have access to quick links to access the most important information. Featured contests appear at the top of the page, with a general introduction, relevant stats, and various buttons depending on what stage the contest is at.

Each contest has it's own dedicated area which is now much easier to navigate. The navbar is sticky, the header remains constant for all contest sub-pages, and viewing entries is much simpler now because it's focused on the actual contest, rather than showing all entries.

Dedicated Results Area

One of the biggest areas that I wanted to overhaul was how results are announced. The legacy system was pretty crazy, with finalist and winners announced in different areas, all with different urls depending on the contest stage. As our site got bigger, this has become quite a mess.

That has all changed now with every contest getting it's own dedicated results page. All winners and finalists appear on the same page, and I've even made all the fancy badges a prominant focus.

Digging through all the amazing portfolio projects is one of the most popular things members and visitors like to do on The Rookies. Let's be honest, the work is inspiring, but the search has always been pretty basic.

Projects | Share and Review
Share your latest digital creative project with a community of supporting artists.

Not sure where to start looking? Need a little inspiration? Then why not try the new Quick Links at the top of the projects page. These quick links will jump straight to our most popular searches and show you what is trending.

Badge Winners

Our team awards badges all the time to members for sharing great projects on their portfolio pages. To make it easier to find these, I've added a few new filters: Editor's Choice and Weekly Drills. To access these, click the Filters button on the yellow search navbar, then click Badges.

School Projects

Showcasing portfolios from the best creative schools in the world is something our team loves to do at The Rookies. To make this quicker and easier, I've added an auto-complete field to the search filters. Simply start typing the name of a school in the School Name form field and the results will update instantly.

Coming Soon

I recently took a pass at upgrading the Members page, and I can't wait to share it. Below is a sneak peak of what I'm building. The main things you'll notice are the featured 'Hire Me' buttons and quick links to help find members. But it's what's underneath the hood that holds the power.

With the new members search, you'll be able to find members based on achievements. This means you can search for Rookie Awards winners, Rookie All-Start alumni, and even members that have unlocked special badges like our coveted "Portfolio of the Week".


Everyone loves to earn a sweet looking badge, and our team loves to award them to members. But like many things, they can go unnoticed on such a massive platform like ours. This is why I've been building out a working prototype to show off all the badges you can earn at The Rookies, and which talented members have unlocked each of them. Right now our code-whispering wizard, Steven Podlecki, is working his magic to optimise the system and get it live.

Got an idea or feature request?

This is your platform, so if you want a new feature or have a great idea to make The Rookies even better, then make sure to share your thoughts on our Discord server.

Join the The Rookies Discord Server!
Welcome to The Rookies, a community for aspiring artists who want to succeed in film, games, animation and more. | 10784 members