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Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra

A website that strikes the right chord for the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra

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The Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra (OPO) is Oxford’s only professional symphony orchestra, founded as Oxford Philomusica by Marios Papadopoulos in 1998, and maintained by some of the finest musicians in the UK.

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Background

Approaching its 25th anniversary, OPO reached out to us during a pandemic at a time when social distancing was in force and classical music, an industry that thrives on people coming together, was facing an unprecedented and uphill challenge to return to its former ways. The visual brand identity and web experience were seen as fundamental components to address to help reduce the pressure of these stifling external market forces.

The Brief, Brief

Following a complete rebrand with a specialist agency, OPO needed a new website to fully communicate its new brand positioning and support its audience diversification strategy. This included improvements to the user experience to increase online sales and donations, plus the website had to integrate with a new ticketing system, Spektrix.

We started the project by meeting with the key stakeholders on both sides to confirm our understanding of the brief, clarify any knowledge gaps and provide the opportunity for questions. We also took this opportunity to discuss each step of the project to help manage expectations.

User Experience

User experience was next up: we considered what we want their audience to feel, how we want them to react, and we weaved it into the melody of the design. Then, we carefully mapped out the user journey through the website.

Following an audit of the existing site, we aimed to make it easy to donate and buy event tickets, reduce the cognitive load by removing any unnecessary links and pages, consider the content hierarchy based on priority and create a better layout for a more pleasant user journey.

  • Spektrix: Utilisation of the desired booking systems
  • Shopping: Simplifying the shop into a single hub
  • Donations: Enhancing prominence for donations

Web Design

Our job was to interpret the brand bible and create a dynamic design system applicable for a web format. We wanted to bridge the gap between real life and digital, using visual aids by allowing the logo to move to convey a sense of symphony. This was a slight diversion from the initial brief, but the client was receptive and loved the idea.

 

Unapologetically Different

We utilised large imagery and block colour to 
express how the brand is “not afraid to do things differently” and a gridded format with tight margins, allowing the content to steal the show. The extensive colour palette allowed us to be expressive with the use of a colour distribution effect to differentiate key sections of content on each page. The layout utilises impactful typography married with bespoke colour matching, visualising an innovative identity for 
OPO’s culture sector.

Inspire and Connect

We felt it was important to inspire and connect with people through an industry-defining design that mirrored the world-class music performances the OPO is renowned for. So we crafted a bold and forward-thinking web design and user experience to position them at the forefront of the industry, bringing them into the modern era of digital inspiration and raising the bar for classical music across the nation.

 

Diversification through Design

Through a design that appeals to different audiences and demographics, we wanted to help make classical music at the OPO accessible to all who will love and benefit from it.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

The design is the doorway to engaging with our audiences, but we know a beautiful website goes 
even further. So it’s essential to consider the SEO implications. We start optimising by understanding the baseline: what do we currently rank for in search engines? What do we want to rank for? Who competes with us for the front page of Google, and what gets them there? We bake these findings into every page and use them to support an ongoing optimisation strategy.

Organic traffic reflects healthy search engine optimisation (SEO) and shows none of the typical post-migration slump, with a whopping 35.55% of all website resulting from organic search traffic and a further 12% from organic social traffic.

Web Development

We took the designs and turned them into living, breathing artefacts for the web. Often less is more, so we made use of subtle web animations and hover-over effects to guide the user through the website without any unnecessary distractions. The website works and displays beautifully across a range of modern browsers, devices, and different screen sizes.

 

The Results (TBC)

The initial results are encouraging:

  • Traffic: 11,140 new visits within 1 month of launching
  • Engagement: is a healthy 60.1%
  • Speed: at 1.3s the website is 700% faster than average

Technical Integrations

Supporting over 400 organisations around the world in arts and culture, Spektrix is the clear software choice for sales, marketing and fundraising within the sector. Our challenge was to seamlessly integrate Spektrix with the new OPO website to make selling tickets, purchasing products and managing donations an easy and streamlined process.


Awards

We’re proud to be awarded the following website accolades from leading design authorities and blogs including:

The second phase for Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra was to produce an outstanding home for the OPO Piano Festival. Crafting a symphonic connection to the main site, the Piano Festival website utilises specific colour combinations and impactful photography, promoting the breathtaking concerts and masterclasses.

 

VISIT SITE

Our approach

For the OPO Piano Festival, our approach was to craft a stand out homepage while utilising the creative direction from the main website (oxfordphil.co.uk). Understanding that the OPO Piano Festival website requires an event driven design, we approached the sitemap to be highly accessible to access individual concerts and masterclasses, achieving this by ensuring the content is uncluttered and showcases multiple events. Lastly, it was important to ensure the logo stood to help increase brand awareness.

 

Technical intergrations

Similar to the main website, there was a requirement to integrate with spektrix to sell concert tickets and masterclasses. The integration needed to harmoniously unify with the main site and the OPO Piano Festival site enabling OPO to upload new concerts and masterclasses with ease.

Brand symphony

Part of the creative brief was to create a strong synergy between the main site and the OPO Piano festival, while still portraying individuality on the homepage. We worked within the framework of the main site to create consistent pages for the OPO Piano Festival. Overall, this created strong brand consistency which further helps awareness for the revitalised branding; we made the bold decision to use strong black and Mandarin tones to help further differentiate the website.

 

Oxford Piano Festival Key Successes

  • This new site gives the Piano Festival the online visibility it deserves, transitioning it from a relatively obscure place on the old Oxford Philharmonic website to its new, specialised location. This decision was driven by data that showed the specific search volumes aimed at the piano festival alone.
  • Even though this site is on a brand new domain, it already ranks on page two of SERPs for the search term “Oxford Piano Festival” (a key targeted term) and page one for “Oxford Piano Festival 2022”. This is a remarkable result in such a short time period.

“We collaborated with Chaptr to create a new website for Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra and, despite a change in key personnel midway through the project, Chaptr supported us through each stage of the process with expertise and enthusiasm. Our new website effectively communicates the heart of our brand and will help to elevate our profile and inspire people with a love for classical music for years to come. We’d highly recommend Chaptr as the creative web partner for brands within arts and culture.”

Larisa Afric – Design/Office Manager at Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra