The Courtauld’s previous site was built on WordPress and was, in a word, huge. It was somewhat dour, and uninviting to wider audiences. Brand components were bland and didn’t represent the direction the organisation was going in, while the UX and design were outdated.
The user journeys on the site were ill-thought out, calls to action were sparse and not always clear and easy to follow. The content also had the potential to be enhanced, and didn’t adhere to a single tone of voice. Also, the site did not fully comply with accessibility regulations.
The Courtauld website was a complex proposition, with multiple stakeholders and an even wider set of audiences to consider.Michael Kent, Operations Director, Un.titled
Partnering with brand agency Spy Studio, in October 2020 Un.titled won the tender to develop a new website for The Courtauld. Spy Studio already had a working relationship with The Courtauld, having just completed a full rebrand of the organisation.
We started with discovery and UX, defining our measurement model and carrying out user research. During the discovery process, we determined that the objective and goals for the new Courtauld site could be distilled into three main priorities: create awareness, drive footfall and increase revenue. This helped shape all our work moving forwards, while we also ran a host of interviews to get buy-in from the wider group of stakeholders.
Given the breadth of The Courtauld’s offering, and the range of audiences, we outlined a header and navigation system which is super focused on the three main navigation items, of which Study and What’s On speak directly to their primary objectives and their audiences.
At the same time, there were many other audiences to consider. Their journeys are served by the expanded menu, and by other routes into deeper content. This includes searches, landing pages, links from social media, newsletters and more.
Data plays a big part in the discovery and design process. For example, device screen dimensions inform the wireframing and design phase. It’s important to note that we don’t simply select the dimensions with the most users, but rather investigate those which will have the widest reach, without excluding anyone. The result is that The Courtauld site now works beautifully across all devices, but it’s even more optimised for The Courtauld’s core audiences.
The Courtauld were also very accessibility-aware, and this was a prime requirement of the work we did with them. Accessibility is never something we ‘add on’, but is part of our end-to-end process and included in all ongoing content post launch.
During the discovery phase, we include accessibility requirements for site users in the persona work when investigating their digital audiences via the ‘3 As’ – ability, aptitude, attitude.
During the UI phase, we ensured that all accessibility requirements were fulfilled – whether that’s typography (reading width, font size, line height and so on), colour contrast, interaction effects or another element.
During the build, we already knew our base templates were accessibility-ready out-of-the-box, and include things like skip to content link, forms and so on. We also knew that the CMS itself has the required fields, such as image alt tags. Unique to this project was a requirement for an image gallery of a certain type. The client had these requirements listed out and we found a plugin which fulfilled them but, when held up against accessibility requirements, the plugin wouldn’t cut it. As a work around, we simply wrote our own bespoke gallery module, which does fulfil those accessibility requirements.
With all the right components in place, it became easier to fulfil the principles The Courtauld was aiming towards: be relevant, interesting, open, demonstrate expertise and provide a sense of narrative. This has been successfully combined with enhancing The Courtauld website’s user friendliness and accessibility, as well as our own adaptability in working with a huge volume and variety of content.
While the increases in revenue have been eye-popping, one of the most satisfying results has been that The Courtauld have seen an increase of 80% in user sessions across the board and even more importantly, they’re now supporting 85% of all ticket purchases, online. Furthermore, this has been achieved with no increase in digital staffing levels. Together we’ve driven and converted traffic efficiently and with real impact for the organisation. The Courtauld has signed a retainer with Un.titled, which will see us deliver ongoing development work. We have also agreed a service level agreement with The Courtauld. This will see us provide hosting, maintenance and support for the main Courtauld site, as well as number of other sites they own and operate.