The County Center for the Arts (a division of Salt Lake County), owns and operates four very unique cultural venues - Abravanel Hall, Capitol Theatre, Eccles Theatre and the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. In Utah the arts are integral to the thriving community, with a rich history of arts and culture dating back to before the state was even founded. Over the last few years the community has gone through a period of substantial growth, but arts and culture continue to be at their core. The Center for the Arts aims to cater to its local citizens by managing historical buildings that bring great arts and culture to life in Utah.
With a large and diverse audience to serve, the County Center realised the need to develop four very distinctive, yet connected, new brands for their venues and a world-class online presence, which integrated harmoniously with Tessitura ticketing technology.
NEW brands crafted
A selection of leading international digital agencies were invited to tender for the large-scale project. As the only non-US based company, we were humbled to be asked to respond, nevermind to go on to win the project and begin a new partnership that spans an ocean. This new project instigated a further strategic step for After Digital, accelerating our planned growth into the US and in March 2015 we established After Digital Inc. - our US branch.
As the organisation’s new creative and digital partner, this project encompassed everything from branding (5 brands in total) through to UX review, strategy and web design to bespoke development and third-party integration with the Tessitura box office system.
“Center for the Arts is pleased to be After Digital’s first North American client. Our team is impressed with After Digital’s deep Tessitura knowledge and experience in building websites that maximise the public facing elements of the software. We believe this partnership will allow us to offer our customers an intuitive, robust and streamlined online experience.”
Philip Jordan, Division Director,
Center for the Arts
Discovery and Branding
Step one of our journey together was to pack our bags and hop across the pond to meet our American friends and get a feel for the city and its cultural offerings. With the task of developing new branding for the umbrella brand, as well as the individual Salt Lake venues, it was essential to gain a deep understanding of what each venue presented to its audiences and their unique personalities. Our week-long on site discovery involved everything from stakeholder interviews and branding workshops to tours of the spectacular venues and cultural experiences (work hard, play hard).
The team captured their journey along the way, creating a hub for high quality photography, notes and narratives that would later feed into the brand design development.
Through an in-depth analysis of the Centre for the Arts and their marketplace, we identified key opportunities for future growth and positioning through effective branding. Working closely with each of the venue’s teams, we took our time to understand both their character, audiences and objectives moving forward. Pulling on our on-site experiences in line with this research, we went on to develop a series of brand design concepts that were united by a common font and new umbrella brand (welcome Experience Arts Salt Lake), but effectively portrayed the distinctive nature of each venue.
The only brand not to have a complete overhaul was the Eccles Theatre (which received just a light-touch redesign to bring it in line with the new complementary brand theme), which was originally handcrafted by the very same man who created the infamous FedEx logo - great to be amongst such good company!
UX Design and Wireframing
With the branding signed off, we progressed into the UX discovery, mapping out information architecture through a clear sitemap and wireframing process. Over 50 wireframes were created, which clearly illustrated web content structure and prioritisation, highlighting pivotal user journeys and creating optimised conversion paths. These wireframes were then moved into design, with a number of design iterations presented for both the central hub and key landing pages for each venue, as well as individual modules and CTAs. The design focused on communicating the attributes of each venue and its offering, as well as providing greater flexibility around marketing and promotion, stretching the commercial possibilities of the new platform.
Built on the admin-friendly CMS WordPress, this large responsive website provides visitors with a logical, easy to navigate and visually appealing user interface and staff with a manageable and intuitive system. All venues are managed through the one central CMS, with varying levels of permissions and customisable elements.
Bespoke Web Development
Once our creative team had worked their magic on each venue and landing page, it was over to the front-end team to take the reins. The dynamic transitions, bespoke iconography, intuitive CTAs and interactive seating viewpoint map showcases each venue in all its glory, firmly establishing Salt Lake city as a city of cultural excellence. Incorporating our custom social buzz widget, visitors can easily engage with content and share it further.
The development team crafted flexible, responsive templates and individual widgets, which will allow the teams at each venue greater scalability of their area of the site, taking into consideration user flow and effectively surfacing relevant content and calls to action.
“As we continue to expand our international reach, growth into the US market was a key part of our strategy for 2015. It’s great that we can kick-off our American premier with a project that combines our vast experience in the arts sector and our advanced understanding of Tessitura integration and development with a fantastic new client partnership.”
- David Johnstone, Managing Director, After Digital
The Tessitura ticketing system allows arts organisations to effectively manage customer relationships and add ecommerce functionality to their websites via an online box office system with advanced capabilities. As a Tessitura Web Capable agency, we are constantly looking for ways to push Tessitura integrations to new highs, in order to achieve even greater flexibility and features for our clients.
This was our first opportunity to explore the new shared session capability of Tessitura’s TNEW product, which enabled us to combine the practicality of TNEW with the power of the full API, to provide a more advanced, bespoke, integrated ticketing solution. We’re proud to say that this was one of the first websites in the Tessitura Network to utilise this functionality.