We recently had the pleasure of working with The Exchange – a theatre and business/community venue based in Sturminster Newton, Dorset.
Up until this point, we hadn’t produced a website for a theatre before, so this was a really exciting chance for us to get some experience in this sector.
I’m sure The Exchange won’t mind us saying that their existing website design was extremely dated in it’s look and feel.
Not just that though, the old site was proving difficult for it’s staff to manage, and images for their upcoming shows that needed to entice people to buy tickets were appearing pixelated and blurred. To top it off the site wasn’t providing a good experience for mobile users, and we know that these days that’s key.
Perhaps the biggest consideration for this project though, was that The Exchange were using a third-party piece of software provided by a company called Savoy.
This software enables The Exchange to create shows and events on their PC’s in the box office locally, and then push these up to the website. The software also provides the online booking facility for customers to purchase tickets. So the new website we created for the theatre needed not only to look more modern, but to also tie in with this system too, and if possible make the process easier for the staff.
Starting with the new look and feel
Before presenting The Exchange with website design concepts showing how we thought the website’s design could be improved, we first started by wireframing some of the key pages.
This process ensures that the UX (user experience) of the site is going to be top notch and that we’d catered for all the content The Exchange needed to provide to ensure the site gave visitors all the information they needed.
Once The Exchange signed off the wireframes, we presented them with a design concept for the homepage of the new website, which was very well received.
“The large photos and increased width of the site really works well. We’re absolutely loving the new look! Excellent work.”
Here’s how it looked:
WordPress website development
As with all the projects we work on, we developed The Exchange’s website on WordPress, starting with a completely blank theme.
Why don’t we use existing templates? Because there’s so much bloat, with features and functionality you don’t need which all go towards slowing a site down. Starting from scratch ensures the code we produce is clean, Google friendly and above all, that content management for the client is tailored to their needs.
An example of this is how we set up ‘syncing’. The Exchange now simply add their shows locally to the Savoy system, log into the new website, click an “Add by sync” link, and all shows get pulled in to the new website with all the information pre populated.
Here’s a quick look at how editing shows looks:
Of course we developed this site to be responsive too, so it adjusts beautifully for people viewing on these devices and allows people to book tickets for shows on the move.
What the theatre said…
The Exchange were delighted with the outcome of the project:
“Very professional from beginning to end , they were very professional, very organised and completed everything on time. Price wise they are also very competitive. We are absolutely delighted with the service. Authentic Style are simply outstanding and we felt in safe hands through the entire process, especially agreeing on the design. We felt listened to and we have ended up with exactly what we had in mind. The customer service is second to none and we are very happy that we hired Authentic Style to design our website. We highly recommend Authentic Style.”
What we’re now looking to do is see how customers are using the site, using tools such as HotJar. This will help us work with The Exchange theatre to make incremental changes to increase the overall effectiveness of the site.
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