Birmingham Repertory Theatre
The old Birmingham Rep site was creaking under the weight of traffic and expectation. It's fair to say that the mobile journey was almost non existent and while the design had been innovative in its time, by this time, it had seen better days. We were instructed to have a radical rethink. Overall information architecture, user experience, design, technology and technical infrastructure were looked at holistically and a long journey to modernity was underway.
We needed to ensure that the site was both a commercial and critical success. The Rep are about far more than bums on seats, but it's those seats that keep this brilliant organisation running. The first challenge was therefore "how do we balance revenue generation with operational diversity and do it in a way that the brand values of inclusion, education, versatility, diversity and information aren't lost in the commercial necessities".
There were technical challenges too. The Rep use the SRO4 box office system to drive their back office and their online sales. SRO4 is a powerful tool, with useful web integrations, however it is a box office first, and a web sales tool second. Consequently, the user journey for ticket sales was sub optimal, and it wasn't possible to make a purchase through a mobile phone, restricting purchases to just 40% of site traffic. Furthermore, the purchase option available online was via a template driven iFrame that was neither easy to use, nor accessible to those with visual impairments, so we knew that both conversion rates and accessibility could be dramatically improved.
The system needed to be enterprise wide, supporting multiple web sites, multiple venues and with bespoke purchase journeys for different categories of members and visitor types. Statistics and metrics were difficult to come by too, with both search visibility and performance measurement critical to ongoing growth and development, this also needed immediate attention.
We began the transformation with a consultancy phase, comprising a series of workshops, inviting operational, marketing, financial, educational and creative stakeholders. These guided sessions worked through the overall site objectives, where we sought to build consensus on who the users are, how they are grouped, how they might want to interact with the web site and the wider organisation, and what the nature, proportion and location of content might be, to serve those needs effectively. This allowed us to build out customer profiles and top tasks, from which we created wireframe concepts and flow diagrams as to how the site might fit together to gain buy in across the stakeholders, before we committed to delving deeper into the make up of the project.
Next came more focussed workshops with individual stakeholders to drill down into the requirements of their own business units. The aim was to ensure that we covered off all of the essentials for the web site and that we were fully engaged with the entire organisation, and its objectives at a granular level. This helicopter view allowed us to build a full creative prototype and site plan that we could then use to liaise with technical partners and our own developers to execute accurately on what had become an extremely detailed plan.
The build itself required a full line by line integration with the SRO4 API, a first in the field. This allowed us to customise the shopping cart experience, create a fully responsive and mobile friendly seat selector, overhaul the account area and to integrate show and ticket information with the content management system built to drive the web site. The CMS sits on Stunn's V-Project development platform, which has been customised to integrate with SRO4 end to end.
The old site also featured a separate archive, which had been built using the old CMS and styling, but sat awkwardly next to the main web site, creating a navigational issue and a resulting sub optimal user experience both for content administration and the end user. The new CMS was built to allow shows and site data to transition from the live site to the archive and seamlessly move across to form part of the rich history of the Rep. The archive is still in development at the time of writing, and is expected to be launched to the public in the spring of 2018.
The site has been both a critical and commercial success, with continued improvements and developments underway and scheduled. Some of the highlights are:
- Overall e-commerce conversion rate over 16%
- 43% of site revenue derived from mobile and tablet sessions
- 8% Sales conversion rate on mobile
- 30% conversion rate on desktop
- 19% conversion rate on tablets
- 39% conversion rate for returning visitors
- 1,000,000+ user sessions, serving over 4,000,000 pages and 160,000 transactions per year, all served from a single web server
(conversion stats for 30 days prior to January 16th 2018)
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I'm Karl, Managing Director at Stunn. Client services fall under my responsibility and I'm the primary contact for new projects, both large and small.