Corn Exchange Newbury website

Client since 2012

Corn Exchange Newbury includes a 400 seat auditorium, a 40 seat independent cinema and thriving café in the heart of Newbury and a lovely website too!

A brief look back…

  • 2012 – The beginning

    Corn Exchange Newbury (CEN) website is a great example of how designing a website often involves thinking beyond just the aesthetic.

    When we were first asked to work with the Corn Exchange Newbury team, it would have been very easy for us to proclaim the need for a new website – making aspersion about the old website not being very good or how it felt a bit dated. However, the truth of the matter was the website didn’t look that bad – it just needed some love and attention.

  • 2013 – A few tweaks later

    In 2013, we collectively decided that the goal was not to totally redesign the website – as there is great value in familiarity – but to tweak it slightly and improve its performance for both the user and the CEN team.

    Sporting a redesigned home page and a number of interior landing pages, the new improved websites looked a little more polished and up-to-date.

  • 2015 – Spektrix integration

    In 2015, we helped the Corn Exchange Newbury switch to a new box office provider called Spektrix to provide an enhanced experience for users of their website as well as the in-house team.

    With the fantastic new Spektrix system the user is treated to a seamless booking experience with all the booking and admin pages embedded directly on the Corn Exchange Newbury website (in the style of the website).

    We also utilised the Spektrix API to build scripts that import all the event data added via the Spektrix admin interface into their preferred Content Management System – further reducing the amount of time it takes the in-house team to maintain the website.

    And a move to a new UK based host also improved the speed of the website. So, all-in-all, Corn Exchange’s users are really benefitted from these updates.

  • 2017 – A responsive website

    As you will have seen, we have been on a long steady journey with Corn Exchange Newbury – making a number of key improvements during the years. However, during 2016/2017 we took the biggest step yet rebuilding the website to be responsive, migrating the website to a new CMS and host. Read the project details below to find out more.

The new home page. Simple and balanced.

Responsive website

We had a three-pronged approach to this project: Rebuild/redesign the website to use a responsive design pattern, improve the User Experience (UX) using different Interaction Models and Faster Performance, and build the website using a more up-to-date Content Management System.

2013-2016 website

Before we start looking at the new website, let’s first review the old one…

Overall the design was okay, however, as it was not responsive it didn’t perform optimally on mobile devices. The design relied on multiple blocks of content which tended to fragment the user’s journey and the home page suffered from a lack of hierarchy with everything being presented with equal importance – something we addressed in the new website.

The old home page also ran into difficulties when multiple shows for the same event were displayed it was difficult to avoid multiple occurrences of the same image. However, the biggest barrier to the future success of the website was its Content Management System which was outdated and clunky.

2017 website

First and foremost, the website is responsive so we already answered the brief, but we also made numerous improvements – some forced upon us due to the need to find solutions for a responsive design pattern, some required for better UX. 

For example… 

We developed a more intuitive system for selecting and booking tickets. The new system accommodates events that have many shows. So, rather than list this information in a long list, the user can (horizontally) scroll between all the shows, select a date (which instantly updates the times) and click the relevant slot to reveal the Book Now button.

And a new improved menu system allows quick access to all the websites content whether viewing it on a desktop or mobile environment.

We also provided ways to add impact to key events. With a single switch the client can select an alternative 'high impact' layout for displaying event info. In this option, the main image goes full screen. 

Of course, there were more improvements made. Too many to list here, but there was one change that will be invisible to most users…

A move to a new CMS (Craft) and a better server not only improves the speed to website loads (under a second for most pages), but also improves the speed in which the Corn Exchange Newbury team can update the website.

We also took this opportunity to serve the entire website using https. Making the site secure instills confidence in the user, keeps Google happy (who rank secure website higher) and stops the intrusive (and worrying) insecure flag browsers now add to websites.

We love the new website and know it will serve Corn Exchange Newbury. 

Event info never looked so good

The two examples below demonstrate how the client can add impact to key events with a single flick-of-a-switch within the Content Management System. 

An example of the enhanced event layout
An example of the event layout

Working with the team at Thoughtful truly is a delight. We often say in our office that they do exactly what they say on the tin; they really are thoughtful. Attentive when you need their help, sympathetic when you think you may have broken your website, considerate to the needs of the staff who use the website, as well as the end user and kind when you don’t understand technical jargon and they explain it to you in layman’s terms! Simon and Joshua have made this daunting project seem manageable and overall an enjoyable experience – thank you for all your help!

Stephanie Clark, Marketing & Audience Development Manager at the Corn Exchange Newbury