A New English National Opera
English National Opera were looking for a partner to help them develop a website which would offer its audiences an excellent online experience as well as showcasing the company’s new brand identity. The rebrand by Rose was well into its final stages by the time we arrived, and was yielding excellent results.
The mantle passed to us to take this work and produce the same, online.
Seminal to this new brand identity was an invigorating dominance of striking artworks, appealing and poignant in equal measure, specifically crafted for each production. A rare treat in a domain often encumbered with crass marketing graphics. The gorgeous and eminently usable typeface LL Brown from the veritable Lineto, alongside a bold yet minimal palette rounded out the visual components at our disposal.
The Production Page Design
We wanted to allow each page to have a distinct feel, a distillation of the production artworks.
To achieve this, a system was designed that allows the content managers to assign a number of colours and gradient ramp values to the page. These then seamlessly blend from the artwork into the background of the content – a pleasant respite from the oft-witnessed cut, where large hero image meets the rest of the page in stark contrast. The result was a production page that had a much greater sense of cohesion between artwork and content, similar to the printed adverts you can see in and around London.
The same content can be brought together in different ways to serve different user needs. For instance, someone booking a ticket for The Magic Flute may want to see image galleries for the current production, whereas someone looking for general information about that opera might be interested in images from all stagings, current and past.
We’d seen the effect of a fixed position ‘book now’ button on the Hippodrome production pages – with it being used around twice as much as the default button within the content.
The ticketing pathway is a third party system, but we made the transition as smooth as possible, and then implemented best practice where possible through styling. We stripped back all non-essential navigation to focus the user on the purchase pathway.
Testing, analytics and the future
We carried out user testing on an early version of the site, using participants that mapped to the personas identified at the start of the project. It showed that the fundamentals were sound, but we found lots of small tweaks that would improve the user experience.
For instance, on the What’s On page the calendar button has been made more prominent, and the Quick Buy dropdown was added for people who refuse to, or find it difficult to scroll (Seemingly the fold is only dead to people who don’t conduct user testing).
There’s more to be done on the site; the intention is for it to evolve in tandem with English National Opera’s organisational needs over the coming years.
Some of those changes will be based on data we get back from people using the site. We worked with One Further to set up Google Analytics with goals, events, custom dimensions and e-commerce tracking so we’ll have a good view of what’s working and what’s not.
Substrakt are a joy to work with. They pulled out all the stops to deliver a website that looks beautiful, meets the needs of our users and integrates with our box office system - all on deadline thanks to their comprehensive planning and project management.
We really enjoyed working with Substrakt and look forward to working with them on an ongoing basis to continue to grow the site.
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