Now viewed as one of the UK’s leading orchestras, the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra (OP) has been in existence for 15 years. Relatively young in comparison to many established UK orchestras, the Oxford Philharmonic is fast gaining the attention of the world’s most distinguished artists visiting the orchestra and the city of Oxford itself. With its home venue situated in the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, the orchestra has offices in London and has developed relationships with reputable venues, such as London’s Cadogan Hall and the Symphony Hall in Birmingham.
As part of an organisational rebrand, in advance of the landmark season at the beginning of October 2015, the orchestra transitioned from the Oxford Philomusica to the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra. This name change was just the beginning. The orchestra recognised the need to completely redesign their online presence to reflect their new personality and ethos. So, in 2015 the organisation selected After Digital to work as their digital partner to support them on their new journey.
With influential partners, internationally-renowned soloists, press and music lovers visiting the website regularly to find out about the Oxford Philharmonic, it was essential the website reflected the high quality of music and artists who are regular fixtures in the orchestra, as well as providing critical information allowing for ticket purchases and an active online following.
Discovery - highlighting the fortes
The original Oxford Philomusica site was felt to be very functional, conservative, lacking in visual identity and failing to effectively convey the atmosphere or the vibrancy of the orchestra. Engagement levels were low, with very little content on each page and no clear journeys through the site. So, a complete redesign of the site architecture was deemed necessary for the Oxford Philharmonic to establish its profile within this noisy marketplace.
Our team worked on site with the orchestra to establish business objectives and aspirations, user personas and stories, content priorities and user journeys. All of this informed the IA and initial wireframes for the website.
Design & UX
To better reflect the artistic vision, growing reputation, unique qualities and the ambition of the orchestra in a busy classical music market, our creative experts needed to translate the new brand and character into the online designs. Bold use of colour and imagery, strong, sophisticated banner areas, elegant scrolling and easily navigable content were all key elements in the redesign.
Having created collaborative moodboards to identify design likes and dislikes for the orchestra, we delved further into the target audiences to ensure all designs catered directly to their needs. Despite traditionally attracting a largely older audience group, the introduction of the Piano Festival and the University Residency has generated interest from younger demographics, so it was key to be able to effectively reach a wide spectrum of audiences with the new website and online content.
Taking into consideration the unique requirements for the website and its users, our creative team got to work designing a website which both communicated the gorgeous setting of the orchestra’s hometown of Oxford and positioned it firmly in the arts landscape. Featuring striking imagery on the homepage and throughout, the website is now eye-catching, intuitive and promotes greater interaction from the user. Clear and attractive calls to action focus on critical business areas like donations, what's on and selling tickets.
As well as a busy and varied diary of events, the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra has their own subbrands (namely Piano Festival, Summer Baroque and the Chamber Music Series), which our design team worked to make more prominent, thus driving increased sales. During the initial design stage our creative team was tasked with reducing unnecessary clutter to focus on the initial discovery journeys and conversion paths. The new site centres on simplicity, accessibility and elegance.
Enhanced functionality and scalability
Built in the open source content management system (CMS) Joomla, the new website allows the full team, with varying skillsets and levels of administration, to update and maintain the site with ease. The website was built from a user-first, mobile perspective and is fully responsive, ensuring that users across all devices can enjoy a consistent experience at all times.
Our third-party expertise was applied to make sure their customer database management system, Filemaker, worked seamlessly with the new system, thus creating administrative efficiencies and allowing the Oxford Philharmonic staff more flexibility and time.
After launching the site back in October, the website has gone through further phases of development to boost the organisation's online capability. These include secure payments for ticket sales, CD sales and donations to enhance the overall user experience. We continue working with the Oxford Philharmonic to drive digital excellence.