The River Thames is London’s most iconic natural landmark, and each year the Thames Festival celebrates its important role by hosting a diverse programme of events along its 43 mile riverside. Featuring river-related events which are produced independently and marketed as part of the festival, it is run alongside their year-round school projects which aim to educate younger generations about the river’s heritage.
In 2020, the team at Thames Festival Trust joined the Grandad family to redesign their website with the aim of improving accessibility and instilling the cultural significance of the river to the UK and beyond. These goals were in addition to their core objectives of generating brand awareness and positioning, boosting ticket sales and ultimately having a site which could intuitively get users involved in the festival with ease.
Two in one
Grandad created a website that works both in and out of festival season and was easy for both the content manager and website user to work with whatever the time of year. Users are able to understand the festival’s goals, successes and overall mission regardless of whether the event is on or not. Consolidated content worked in tandem to deliver an experience which allowed users to navigate through and discover more about the festival and maximise their planned experience when the event is live.
Grandad did a complete rework of the site’s structure to better centralise the key areas of the site whilst enabling cross-site exploratory narratives. All content was clearly and meticulously placed to follow a logical journey where users don’t have to dig through pages to access what they want and need. We implemented a thought-out and strategic IA to create journeys as efficient as they are intuitive.
Simplifying the navigation made it easier for users to move from A - B and achieve their goals in less steps than it did on the previous site through clear, actionable copy and a lean and simple site architecture. Additionally, users benefitted from an IA designed with the Festival's goals in mind, simultaneously encouraging conversion to active consumers whilst acting as an informative, engaging space for users.
To truly take the site beyond the ordinary, the Grandad team utilised their strategic thinking to map out the different users who would be likely to visit the site and understand what they would want to achieve. We identified five key demographics who would want to engage with the site: event and performance attendees, educational activity organisers, history enthusiasts, supporters and advocates and creative professionals. We then proceeded to investigate the needs and desires of these users to understand the journeys they would take through the site in order to achieve their goals. Event and performance attendees may want to discover more about the festival’s brand and schedule, to plan their attendance. As such, it was important this was reflected in the site architecture to allow these users to achieve this goal with minimal effort.
The entirety of this process was vital in helping us to construct a site map which could simultaneously fulfill both the organisations and their users’ end-goals. The thinking and exploratory process we undertook here was shared with Thames Festival to help them obtain a deeper understanding of their audience’s behaviours - allowing them to build better narratives in their promotions going forward, fuelled by expert insight.
A rejuvenated profile and efforts going forward
The reworked site was a huge success which saw a massive 90% increase in traffic from organic search year on year. The strategies Grandad implemented also saw an increase in user-engagement and brand awareness to the full breadth of the festival and its offerings. Going forward, Grandad are working to add new functionality which will assist the festival team with data-capturing initiatives to help expand their funding. We are also working on some exciting automation which will make the events-upload process easier for the team’s content managers going forward. Watch this space!
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