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Exeter Custom House

Bringing the history and culture of Exeter’s quayside to life.

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Exeter Canal and Quay Trust (ECQT) was set up by the City Council as an independent charity in 1981 with the goal to enable money to be raised and spent on the historic buildings on the Quay which did not count as part of the City Council’s capital programme in a time of austerity.

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Over the years ECQT has made significant grants to local organisations, including Tuckers Hall in Fore Street and Devon Wildlife Trust for Cricklepit Mill, as well as grants to enable arts events to take place on the Quay. 2022 was the year for them to invest in their online presence allowing them to have a greater impact on their community through the work they do.

The Brief, Brief

ECQT engaged Chaptr as its creative partner to guide and inspire them by creating a new brand identity and undertaking the design and development of a new website for Exeter Custom House.

The Brand

The Exeter Custom House logo was inspired by the historic architecture of the E.CH building. From the iconic arches to the peaked roof, the simple logo-form can be used on small or large scale with clarity.

Logo Clarity

The logotype was created using the typeface PP Neue Montreal in weight bold. This font has strong legibility and a contemporary style.

Clear Online Vision

The current Custom House website was static, and limited and didn’t showcase the breadth of ECQT’s events and work. Crucially, it failed to communicate ECQT’s new vision “to celebrate Exeter’s maritime heritage by promoting the Quay area as an attractive, dynamic and refreshing space in which an assortment of activities, events and experiences bring together residents and visitors of all backgrounds.”

Digital Branding

To fully realise this vision, Chaptr set about creating a new online presence for Exeter Custom House that visitors will find and use as a resource to learn more about Exeter’s heritage and inspire them to come and visit the house and quay.

Website Considerations

Greater flexibility was needed to ensure the ECQT team could make changes to the website’s content without the need to rely on an agency. To achieve this we used WordPress, an open-source, flexible, and user-friendly CMS.

Web Design

Our aim was to create an impactful online presence to connect with people through the power of storytelling and we feel the new website does just that.


Defining The Digital Brand

Our team have designed a creative direction for the Exeter Custom House which encapsulates the wider target demographic, and the bespoke voice of the architecture that showcases the range of arts, cultural events and activities.

Target Audience

Historically, Exeter Custom House has targeted a more senior audience. The new brand aimed to position E.CH as welcoming to a wider demographic while being fully accessible to all. 


Linking Cultural Identity

We collaborated with the client to deliver a brand with a clear impression of the heritage of Exeter Custom House. Being inspired by the history of the building informed our creative decisions and led to the production of a unique and personal brand.

Accessibility Considerations

Our development process meets WCAG 2 as standard. We ensured the new website is accessible to all by considering the following factors:

  • Using responsive classes to adapt to viewport sizes.
  • Using invisible CAPTCHAs instead of one that relies on sight.
  • Using aria attributes to identify parts of the page and their behaviours.
  • High legibility for both the brand and content.


Technical Integrations

The website is integrated seamlessly with MailChimp to help grow its mailing list, and we’ve utilised slick image sliders and interactive timeline features to tell their story. An informative scrolling banner is used to display pertinent information. A clear events calendar helps to organise events and makes it easy for people to find out more information.

Web Development

To ensure the E.CH team have complete control over the website going forward we used a ‘block building’ approach, meaning that the team can re-order and create new sections internally, without the need to rely on us.

Subtle animations bring the designs to life as the website loads, ensuring the user journey feels seamless and enjoyable.

“Chaptr offered us what we needed to move forward. We gave them free rein on design but I knew they understood where we were, and what we needed to get from this process.”

Anna Gilroy – Project Coordinator, Exeter Canal & Quay Trust.