A full creative relaunch for 2021

Brighton Festival had humble beginnings back in 1967, and has only grown since. Now known as the South East’s biggest curated Festival, 2021’s event drew over 60,000 attendees and featured over 300 freelance artists.

Grandad’s working relationship began with the Festival in 2011, and since then we have been updating their website yearly. After a live event hiatus in 2020, we collectively decided it was time to reinvest and redo the site, delivering a full creative relaunch for the anticipated reopening in 2021.

The updated site needed to communicate the Festival’s refreshed brand coming out of lockdown whilst simultaneously displaying its rich heritage, strong values and quirky personality. It needed to provide a space to support the changing events landscape whilst continuing to generate income through communicating the festival's offerings. The website needed to leverage this awareness to drive engagement and encourage visitors to intuitively convert from passive to active consumers. In addition, it needed to be able to support all visitors in being able to access and experience the breadth of the Festival’s proposition in the City of Brighton.

Designing with the User in Mind

Brighton Festival has a colour refresh every year, but this year we started from scratch with a newly realised, creatively driven approach. In the first phase of the project we revisited the site’s structure to realign the user experience post-COVID. Grandad altered the structure so that it balanced the intents and goals of the Users with the marketing requirements of the business. This was achieved through streamlining the site structure so as not to distribute content across multiple pages, or bury valuable content deep in the site hierarchy. 

When in season, key pages such as ‘What’s On’ and ‘Plan Your Visit’ were prioritised on the navigation as these were the pages which would allow users to achieve their primary goals on the site. In the off-season, the ‘Plan Your Visit’ page is replaced with ‘The Best of the Festival’ so that users could obtain an overview of the previous years’ events. Regardless of the time of year, the site structure was restructured and all content was re-identified with goal-orientated, conversational labelling.

The interface was designed to offer a stable site structure that supports both a during-festival state and an off-season state with minimal intervention from the content manager; allowing users to view different versions of the site depending on the time of year. We implemented an improved page structure which encouraged cut-down, straightforward copy to effectively deliver communications whilst still displaying the brand’s personality. This coincided with our efforts to create shorter user journeys with clearly labelled, goal-focused content and easy-to-reach conversion points, moving users through to the purchasing phase with ease. 

Users felt the most obvious benefit from the introduction of an innovative, accessible filtering system and search mechanism for the show catalogue, which allowed them to navigate the ‘What’s On’ section according to their individual preferences. We designed this system to link similar narratives so that the user could explore relevant content whilst remaining on the site and potentially discover something new.

Powered by Insight

Our ongoing relationship with Brighton Festival has allowed us exclusive insight into the psyche of their customers, enabling us to craft the best possible user journey. We used our collective strategic insight and worked collaboratively with the Festival team to deliver an aesthetically stunning, value filled experience. 

The main goal for the site was to support and promote ticket sales. Whilst this goal is similar to that of other arts and culture events, Grandad took the efforts of Brighton Festival beyond the ordinary by using our insight to better support and guide users in achieving this goal: identifying their objectives and gently escorting them along specific communication journeys to help achieve them. 

With that understanding, we were then able to design an optimum digital experience which efficiently facilitated their goals and needs.

The site also had the role of generating revenue through non-ticketed items such as limited edition screen prints and one-off donations, which were promoted as eye-catching CTA’s.

Digital Events and Future Goals

The 2021 event had the essential requirement of being able to support both offline and online events. We added in a functionality to show both pre-recorded and live events within the site’s infrastructure without major disruption to the user’s experience. We added a login area to the main navigation bar so users could easily access their paid content within a bespoke user profile. 

Project continuation and Our Next Phase

Despite having a reduced number of visitors to the site due to the pandemic, the refreshed site saw a 57% decrease in bounce rate and a 66% increase in session duration - demonstrating an improved level of engagement with the site’s content. Moving forward, we are starting to further streamline sales by introducing an integrated ticketing system, which minimises disruption to the user’s journey and saves them from having to leave the site to complete purchase.

We are continuing to optimise the site to ensure the best possible experience for Brighton Festival’s customers, whilst also cementing the brand into the wider Brighton Dome family and ensuring a great experience all around.

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