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Every so often, whether you work in digital or not, one visits a website and gets a slap across the face. One dawdles for a moment, scrolling around and wondering how web design has come so far in such a short period of time.

Colston Hall is one of these websites. OK, it’s a fairly sizeable concert hall in Bristol, England, but still, it’s in the arts sector, this isn’t meant to be so slick, right?

Cecile Eschenauer kindly pointed us to Colston Hall’s website, designed by Palace, after reading Chris Lake’s article on colour and UIs.

Looking at comparable venues (e.g. York Barbican, Newcastle’s Metro Arena) Colston Hall is way ahead, it’s in the future. Other small and medium arts spaces are going to have to catch up, or miss out on maximising ticket sales.

So what design elements are we talking about?

Responsive

The site looks so good on mobile, I’ve included plenty of shots here. Colston Hall as a JoyDivision inspired piece on at the moment, too, and I’m always glad to involve post-punk and Lancashire. 

In fact, the buttons on the desktop are nice and chunky, too, so there is less work needed to adapt to mobile. The menus are dealt with nicely, and each section fits nicely in screen. 

People scoot past Colston Hall on the bus, perhaps see a poster for a concert, and want to look it up on their phone. Now they can. 

   

   

Image-tastic

Hit more info on one of the events and survey the loveliness therein. Internet speeds, browsers, bigger websites, all enable the use of lovely big imagery. This is great, as long as it’s accessible.

Each event also has a little gallery, which you can cycle through on overlay. It works well, which isn’t often the case with carousels and imagery.

 

Chatter and share

One of the most impressive parts of the site.  There’s a chunky chatter bar pulling in tweets, YouTube vids, Instagram, Facebook posts. And when you move around the site to look at different events, the chatter bar is tailored to the subject.

There’s also brilliant linking away from artist profiles to other parts of the social web and beyond, e.g. a singer’s Twitter account, YouTube and website.

There’s often some embedded SoundCloud content, instruction as to what hashtag to use, and prompts to social activity absolutely all over the site. For an events business this is vital to increasing awareness and ergo sales.

 

Customisation and filters

Letting users sort the way they want to and change displays is a key way to surface some events that aren’t necessarily plastered over the homepage. 

This ‘What’s On’ page is brilliant. The colours, in list view particularly, are stunning, and are used to colour code different types of event. For example, pick ‘classical’ in the filters, and you’ll see a sea of blue events. 

It’s quite plainly delicious. 

 

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Enormous calls to action

BUY TICKETS. Just look at it! It’s so beautiful you just need to click it.

 

The perfect footer

Not often I eulogise over a footer, but including a big email call to action, social links, site nav and links to funding bodies, this one is reassuringly transparent and will capture plenty of data. 

One of the old problems of websites was a lack of contact info, and although one wouldn’t expect this on a ticketing or venue website, it’s still nice to see contact info prominent in the header and the footer.

Ben Davis

Published 23 September, 2013 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is a senior writer at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (1)

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Alan Charleworth

I agree that the site is indeed worth of plaudits.

My observation would be that it seems that the designers have started with usability/user experience as the primary objective - and then made it look good.

Too many designers start with looking good as the objective with usability/user experience being an add-on - or even a non-consideration.

Just my two-penneth :)

about 3 years ago

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