A 250-year-old theatre for the digital age

Our latest launch is a new website for the oldest continuously working theatre in the English-speaking world, Bristol Old Vic.

“A complete overhaul was needed of our ancient, clumsy site and Supercool had the technical expertise and the design know-how to do it with flair. It has been a pleasure to work with them from start to finish.” Alice Wheeler – Head of Marketing

We designed the website while the theatre’s new visual identity was still in development, so our focus was on making the most of the basic brand elements – logo, colour palette, and display typeface.  

We concentrated on devising a clear and easy-to-use navigation, and a bold typographic hierarchy which creates distinction and personality across the site.

The brand’s letterpress-inspired typeface, Knockout by Hoefler & Co, is used for display text (like those big, chunky titles), with other text set in the practical, highly legible (and free!) Google font, Roboto. The result is a modern-feeling interface with a hat-tip to the theatre’s long history.

We took inspiration from the shadow effect on the new logo to play with layering. On the homepage, full page hero ‘sliders’ boldly promote … well, anything the team decide (but usually upcoming productions).

And the bold, flexible main menu slides down over the top of pages; with subtle but effective logo animation drawing your eye to the list of menu items. 

The website’s simplified structure helps to uncover areas of the theatre and its work which were previously hidden – including venue hire, engagement projects, and Bristol Old Vic’s great Access offer.

“LOVE the assisted performance listings page - this should be on every booking site ever!” Audience member – via Twitter

There’s also a brand new Heritage section which will grow once the building fully re-opens this Autumn.

In the meantime, the scene is set with a selection of the theatre’s own historic items (including photos of the Thunder Run) alongside artefacts from Bristol Archives and the University of Bristol Theatre Collection. Heritage tours and exhibits will follow later this year, as Bristol Old Vic becomes a heritage destination as well as a working theatre.

“We now have a site that is not only bang up-to-date – sleek, user-friendly, mobile responsive (can’t believe we’ve waited this long!) – but hugely adaptable for our future business needs.” Alice Wheeler – Head of Marketing

As a producing theatre, Bristol Old Vic’s own productions in particular often have fairly long runs; The Cherry Orchard for instance will be performed 40 times over March/April – starting this very evening!

Showing a stream of dates in an almost endless-seeming list can become overwhelming for site visitors, so we wanted a way of showing long lists of dates without people becoming lost or confused.

Our solution is the cunning sticky calendar navigation which appears on the What’s On page – as well as on the pages of any events which have a long run. Neat, simple and effective.

“The What's On calendar search is amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it.” Matt Lister – Production Assistant

Event pages look deceptively simple but are actually very detailed in order to remain super-flexible. They work equally well for small one-off events with no image and just a short description, as for big productions with a hero image, large cast list, and lots of related news, image galleries, trailers and other content.

To match the concept of the print brochure, events are given a bespoke highlight colour; this small detail giving every event page a subtle but effective lift.

There’s some great stuff happening this season, and exciting times ahead for Bristol Old Vic – take a look: bristololdvic.org.uk


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