5 takeaways from our webinar about rebuilding attraction websites in times of lockdown

Dec 02 2020

brand new websites for Southbank Centre and London Trasnport Museum

In partnership with ALVA (the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions) Deeson welcomed Trish Thomas Head of Digital for Southbank Centre and Harriet Burke Head of Digital for the London Transport Museum (LTM) to share their experiences with their recent site of recent site rebuilds in a webinar titled ‘Rebuilding attraction websites in times of lockdowns and social distancing’.

Over the course of an hour guests heard some of the trials and tribulations when it comes to preparing for such a large project, the implementation, success measurements and, of course, the impact of Covid-19.


Here are 5 key takeaways from the webinar:

1. Preparation is (more than) half the battle

Both Trish and Harriet highlighted that the buy in and approval of their site build projects boiled down to effective and comprehensive planning. In fact, both went as far to say that their extensive preparation is what helped ensure their projects didn’t get postponed or cancelled altogether when Covid-19 began to devastate the cultural sector.

The first step in undertaking a project like this should always be a compelling business case which aligns with the strategic objectives of your business.

2. Be honest about what you want your new website to deliver

“We were really clear in what we wanted this new website to achieve” said Harriet from London Transport Museum “whether that be in terms of engagement, helping to drive that revenue into income generating areas of the business, but also future proofing the site.”

When preparing your site development business case, be honest from the outset what you want it to deliver from functionality, user experience, revenue driving abilities and usability. Carry on those honest conversations with your agency partner to ensure your site development stays aligned with your objectives - remember, this new site could be with you for a long time and should serve as a tool that helps, not hinders, your business growth.

READ MORE: Taking the Stress Out of Upgrading Your CMS

3. New site, new revenue opportunities

While Covid-19 has had undeniably terrible effects on many industries – both Trish Thomas and Harriet Burke noted that it forced them to reassess their digital offering and how it might serve to deliver new revenue opportunities.

With the launch of the new site and improved UX, the London Transport Museum saw a significant uptick in donations, were able to bolster learning programs, redefine ecomm offerings, and explore paid virtual tours of spaces that had previously been untapped due to accessibility. After experimentation with ticket prices, they were eventually able to charge £20 per person for their virtual 'Hidden London' tours - no small feat in the saturated virtual event environment Covid-19 had forced the world into.

The improved flexibility of their new site meant that Southbank Centre was able to be agile and adapt with speed, offering virtual events without the need for additional investment in development.

Both attractions have also expanded their audiences globally, opening doors to look at more hybrid digital and in-person events going forward which can continue to tap into that extended reach and access.

4. Measure meaningful success metrics

It will come as a surprise to no one that Covid-19 impacted not only the amount of physical visitors to events venues, but also caused a drop in online visits. So Deeson's Head Strategist Martijn van der Heijden asked Trish Thomas how she was now measuring success of the rebuild?

She explained how she had shifted from quantitative year on year data to an evaluation of more meaningful qualitative metrics. User feedback research reflected that visitors on both desktop and mobile found the site easier to navigate, more fitting to the brand, and a better tool to decide what to visit.

5. Your new site could be with you for 5 or more years

Your new site could be with you for five or more years before such another large redevelopment occurs. Knowing how you will phase the build, which priorities will take place before launch and continue to be developed in following phases to ensure your new site can grow and scale with your business, will be vital for futureproofing.

Your website will never be done and it will be important to make sure your business has a plan for priorities post-launch, investing in maintenance and optimisation.

READ MORE: From Drupal 7 to 8 to 9: when to upgrade?

If you're curious to find out what else was said, you can watch the full webinar here.