The Amber Collective, a film and photography collective based in Newcastle upon Tyne, aimed to showcase its remarkable 48-year collection online through a bold new website and the identification of new strategies and systems to support their digital infrastructure. Funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund, the project looked to reposition the brand in the online space, whilst effectively digitising and showcasing its vast and varied media assets to audiences worldwide.

3.5 K+

IMAGES to digitise for launch

60 hrs

VIDEO content to present online

400 sets

OF SLIDES to showcase to the world

Amber Collective Design by After Digital

Part of a larger £1.1 million funded project supported by Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, in which the whole interior and exterior of the exhibition and asset store were renovated, the new website was to play a significant role in renovating and presenting this historically significant archive.

Over various collaborative on-site experiences in both our offices and their space, we developed a close working relationship in order to establish the vision and challenges around this project.

With such a vast collection of assets requiring digitisation we recommended integration of the Portfolio DAM, in order to facilitate the efficient online management and presentation of assets moving forward. Further technical needs were scoped out to create a comprehensive backlog of requirements to work from.

“A rebuilt and redesigned Amber Online will be at the heart of how we connect with audiences and tell our story. We love AD’s work and are looking forward to continuing to work with them on something as rich and extraordinary as the complex of narratives it allows people to explore.”

- Graeme Rigby, Amber Collective

The Amber Collective UX and web design

Designing a journey of discovery

Working with the Amber team it quickly became clear that they had strong ideas around the visual style and UX for the website, whereby they wished to expose the entire collection to visitors as best possible. This meant creating online experiences that visually encouraged the exploration of the collection rather than sending users down a particular set path.

Our design team spent considerable time getting to know the imagery, vision, audiences and organisation, allowing them to work through content priorities and wireframe different variations of information architecture to suit. Over 40 wireframes were developed, from a mobile and user first perspective, in order to explore how best to develop engaging ‘journeys of discovery’ for site visitors on all devices.

Applying generous interface principles and clever UX design, we then presented numerous creative concepts and prototypes to the client. Visual cues and interactive features play an important part in aiding navigation and accessibility to resources. More importantly, it offers new ways of exploring the extraordinary AmberSide Collection that has grown out of its production, commissioning, touring-based acquisition, business ventures, community and political engagements since 1968.

The Amber Collective website design

Form and function

Bringing the website to life, our experienced web development team applied subtle and effective new front-end styles, translating the design prototypes into fully-fledged features.

Built on the open source WordPress CMS, we worked with Amber to establish technical needs based on business drivers and goals. Appropriate add-ons and third-party integrations were then developed to meet these needs. The website integrates seamlessly with Shopify to offer ecommerce functionality, whilst digital asset management is now handled efficiently via our Portfolio Connect product and the Portfolio API.

As such, the new website now offers access to over 3,500 images and over 60 hours of video, but this is just the beginning. far more will be added over the next two years, as Amber and its team of dedicated volunteers digitise its way through the highways and byways of the collection.

Advanced functionality was developed in order to process images within the CMS itself, allowing for image watermarking amongst other key activities. The Galleries work with images true to the artists’ crop, presenting challenges around size, spacing and responsive development, all of which our team worked hands-on with Amber to overcome. The result, a beautiful and true to form representation of the artists’ original works.

A centralised online archive of real historic relevance, the Amber Collective are delighted with their new website, which places them firmly on the world stage.

“The new website reveals the networks of connection, allowing visitors to make their own meaningful journeys through this documentary epic. It opens up the links between the collection and new exhibitions at the gallery, screenings at Side Cinema, new production or the education projects being developed with schools and in communities. Over the years Amber has kept box upon box of original video interviews and documentation, much of it of considerable historical interest. This material is now online along with the original programmes. Whichever body of work you are looking at in the online collection, you can now see the different films and exhibitions to which it relates.”

- Graeme Rigby, Amber Collective

Visual Culture

The new website is the online representation of a visual culture nurtured by The Amber Collective through its many activities - Amber Films, Side Gallery, the AmberSide Collection and the group’s new education team. The website allows them to showcase their ongoing commitment to the documentation of working class and marginalised communities in North East England, through a whole range of fascinating multimedia.