Contracted to build a new website for the RSC in time for an anniversary year, I designed and developed a new website in 9 months, completely overhauling their digital presence and establishing a new online identity. The website's traffic increased by 20% during the first year after the relaunch, with online ticket sales experiencing a similar jump.
Workshopping & Kick-off
Kicking off the project we had a number of team workshops with different representatives around the organisation to investigate User Journeys, Information Architecture and Personas. This was a way of getting buy-in from various stakeholders and building a sense of collaboration in the project from the outset. Through these workshops we built on organisational knowledge and expertise, and decided on the development milestones sequence. For example, due to an extensive content migration being necessary, I focussed first on content and information pages to aid the teams carrying out that workstream.
What, Where, When
It was through these workshops that we started experimenting with a new filtering system for the What’s On & Book Tickets feature of the website. Research from the Audience Development team had given us good insights into how people approach buying tickets for our events, and we leveraged existing behaviours to break the process into 3 questions that could be answered asynchronously - What do you want to see? Where do you want to see it? When do you want to go? This was extremely successful with average purchase times for the customer journey reduced significantly.
Besides guerilla user testing, which we regularly carried out with customers in the theatre lobbies, we had also engaged an external agency to help us with research and usability testing during development. Using clickthrough prototypes I had made for our main user journeys, we got feedback from people representing our different audience personas, which resulted in some improved flows and changing of UI mechanisms in the ticket buying process to ones which were more easily usable and understandable.
After the initial soft launch of the new website we continued to work with the Audience Development team, as well as the Customer Service department, to gain deeper insights as to how our customers were reacting to the site. These collaborations helped to confirm a Calendar View for the What's On section was a core feature that was missing, one which we had left out of the first release due to resource and time constraints. We rapidly designed and deployed this new function, which our customers used as much as the ‘marketing’ view for the section, and which showed further reductions in the ticket buying time.
Accessibility was fully baked into our design process from the beginning, with a new colour palette being created in collaboration with the Visual Communications department specifically for our digital identity in order to comply with WCAG AAA standards. I also formed a strong working relationship with the customer accessibility representative to ensure their voices were being heard, and regularly performed usability tests with people who had vision difficulties. As a result we reduced animations, rebuilt the menu system and changed the typography to increase the ease of use of the site.
Live from Stratford-upon-Avon
Part of the mission of the RSC is to bring Shakespeare to everyone. As such, they run a ‘Live from Stratford-upon-Avon’ programme in cinemas around the world to give as close an experience to being in the theatre as possible for those unable to see a touring show or visit Stratford-upon-Avon. To support the programme, and in collaboration with John Good Ltd, we developed a new app for phone and tablet. Further expanding the RSC visual language, the app provides customers with the ability to buy tickets, get further information about the play and that particular production, and allows limited purchases from the RSC Shop.