Located in stunning Boulder, the University of Colorado (CU) plays a profound role in the lives of those in its community and is well regarded as one of the leading education institutes in the USA. CU Presents, its performing arts organisation, is world-renowned for presenting in excess of 150 ticketed events every year and nurturing emerging talent. Over the years, they’ve developed a Grammy award-winning string quartet, established the incredible Colorado Shakespeare Festival and Eklund Opera, and introduced one of the USA’s top university music programs. So, when they invited us to tender for their new website and TNEW integration, we jumped at the chance.

23%

INCREASE in online revenue

498%

UPLIFT in ecommerce conversion rate

26%

GROWTH in transactions

Looking to grow global brand awareness and showcase the full extent of their offering via beautifully crafted, seamless online user experiences, the new website also had clear commercial goals to drive an uplift in attendance and ticket sales. Thanks to our extensive and award-winning work in the arts, CU Presents approached us as the only UK agency invited to pitch for the project and, following a competitive tender, we were appointed as their new digital partner.

“We chose After Digital to redesign the CU Presents website after a very competitive bid process. They immediately stood out for their rich understanding of how best to approach digital communications, especially within the performing arts industry. Our teams may be located across an ocean, but it feels like we have a true partner working right alongside us.”

- Laima Haley, Marketing and Public Relations Director, CU Presents

Transforming the old:

CU Presents old website

To the new:

CU Responsive Website by After Digital

Ticketing innovation

The challenge was to not only craft a beautiful new responsive website in time for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s 60th Anniversary, but also to create an intuitive and enjoyable ticketing experience, enhancing upon TNEW’s online ticketing capabilities for paid, free-to-attend and series events.

With a decade’s experience as a Tessitura Web Capable agency, our team relish the opportunity to push technology to the limits, identifying new and exciting ways to advance functionality and exceed clients’ expectations, whilst tackling common challenges within the arts. For example, our recent work with Experience Arts Salt Lake had broken new ground for leveraging shared sessions using TNEW ticketing technology.

The Mary Rippon Theatre

A team on both sides of the pond

Our journey with CU Presents began with a physical journey to Colorado, whereby our team and theirs came together to define project scope, what success looked like and delve into the discovery process.

Working with the many stakeholders of CU Presents, our team worked to identify the various users and their needs - from event attendees, donors, the campus community, parents of students and the media. From here, we could explore key user journeys and content prioritisation, looking at how series and subseries content and events could best be presented.

“OMG, thank you SO MUCH! Your work was amazing and I thought the presentation went exceptionally well. Joan and I were saying how pleased we were with the questions and reactions from our partners, they were really impressed by the thoughtfulness and strategy that have gone into what they saw!”

- Laima Haley, Marketing and Public Relations Director, CU Presents

User journey mapping and on-site wireframing (fuelled by several pizzas), allowed our team to identify improvements in purchase path and transactional journeys, such as finding information and purchasing season tickets. All with the aim of creating seamless user journeys, which encourage greater engagement and conversion, whilst maximising administrative control and the ability to cross-serve content for CU Presents.

We worked with their systems administrators to explore various open source content management systems, weighing up the benefits and negatives of their existing Drupal sites, in line with their aspirations and requirements. This investigation found many shortfalls of the current infrastructure and an unnecessarily over complicated back-end. As such, the flexible, admin-friendly CMS WordPress was selected as the right tool for the job and we supported the CU Presents team in transitioning over.

CU Presents user analysis and user journey mapping

A world made smaller through digital

Following the on-site week spent in Boulder, Colorado, our team’s continued to work closely through video conferencing and regular check-ins, all supported by our agile way of working.

Working from collaborative mood boards and the brand guidelines, we explored design concepts and pattern libraries, which brought CU Presents to life online. When it came to the design, we needed to manage multiple brands under an umbrella brand, visually presenting them in a way that gave them all equal prevalence and distinguished the series logos and themes, allowing each event to stand on their own. We had to combine all series under one site and marry up digital touch points with third party sites, APIs and the University's academic site to create one seamless end to end solution.

From wireframing to concepts to prototypes, incremental releases of deliverables allowed their team to test, feedback effectively and contribute continuously to the end solution. This collaborative process ensured expectations were managed and we were able to move things forward to time and to budget.

CU Presents web design process

“I just wanted to say thank you so much for this setup, it is so fantastic. You’ve really set it up for the unique and predicted needs of our organisation and I am just having a blast going through everything.

Truly, the website is beautiful. Your responsiveness is just stellar. I am so excited for this project and SO grateful to be working with you all.”

- Daniel Leonard, Marketing Manager, CU Presents

Pushing the boundaries of the technology to improve ticketing

Leveraging the power of our T-Bridge product we enhanced administrative capability and built upon their TNEW licence, ensuring scalability was considered in line with an imminent TNEW v7 upgrade. With limitations around functionality for packages, we optimised the package journey before and after the TNEW package builder to ensure as smooth a user experience as possible, with flexible new designs created in advance of the upgrade.

The Venue search was built to handle multiple venues and shows at one time, allowing for patrons who attend many times per year to quickly access the information needed to facilitate their purchase decision.

67%

DECREASE in bounce rate

71%

IMPROVEMENT in server response time

23%

INCREASE in online revenue

CU Presents design by After Digital

Increased engagement and revenues

The new website launched in May 2017, ahead of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s 60th Anniversary kick-off, and since has driven considerable improvements; from a 23% increase in online revenues and a 498% improvement in the website’s ecommerce conversion rate to a 26% growth in online transactions. What’s more, engagement is up and the new site has supported a considerable 67% reduction in bounce rate alongside better technical performance metrics, such as a 71% improvement in server response time.

But, that’s just the beginning. We’ve forged a strong and fruitful relationship, which is pushing us to continue to test and evolve their online presence, and has resulted in friendships that span an ocean. Keep an eye out for further developments coming to a screen near you very soon.

CU Presents website by After DigitalCU Presents responsive website by After Digital

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