Even the most physical of businesses need a highly functioning, fit for purpose site that’s easy to navigate and appealing to the target audience.
More than a quarter of UK nightclubs - 29% according to a recent study - have closed their doors for good in the last 6 years. In the midst of a pandemic with no real end in sight, how does a small club in Sheffield’s industrial heartland not just survive, but thrive?
Hope Works, with a capacity of just over 400, is located in an old WW1 gun barrel factory in a tucked away corner of Sheffield far from the polished, ultra modern bars of the city centre - a place of industry now given over to raw creativity and artistic expression. Despite the difficulties all nightclubs faced during repeated lockdowns, Hope Works has gone from strength to strength and is now in the running for Best Small Club award in the DJ Mag 2021 Best of British Awards.
Hope Works owner and manager Liam O’Shea, approached 93ft for a total refresh of the website.
The old Hope Works site had no CMS (content management system), meaning that the club couldn’t add new events or other information to keep the site updated. Instead they had to go back to their web developers, costing time and money - in practice this meant that the site was often out of date, with site visitors being unable to get details of the latest events.
A key feature of the new site was that the Hope Works team could edit every aspect themselves, including adding blogs and articles, events and products.
This not only results in a super relevant, up to the minute site - it saves Hope Works time and money and increases their self reliance.
Remember when social media went down?
Relying on social media to communicate with your target audience and drive sales is a risky strategy, yet this was Hope Works’ main route to ticket sales.
We made the Hope Works website the main event, the storefront that not only relays information but, crucially, drives revenue. Hope Works social media channels are now used to drive customers to the site - a much safer and more sustainable way to use them - where they can find event information, and buy tickets and merchandise.
This has resulted in a sharp rise in site visitors, an increase in page views and a notable drop in bounce rate - meaning that visitors are staying on the site for longer, and finding what they need.
Once visitors are on the site, we’ve added a range of features designed to keep them there, browsing and discovering more about the venue and all it has to offer. We added a news section for blogs and articles which features interviews with DJs who’ll be appearing at Hope Works, drumming up interest and driving ticket sales. We also created a resident DJs section to attract fans of those DJs who may not have been to Hope Works before.
We added a link to the merchandise shop through Shopify, creating an extra income stream that doesn’t rely on the club being open for business - a key point to consider in case further lockdowns are mandated. Hope Works’ range of merchandise are super cool products that are highly relevant to the target audience, allowing them to get a piece of Hope Works even when getting out clubbing isn’t possible. Thinking outside the box when it comes to revenue is vitally important for business resilience and something that 93ft works hard on, generating ideas in your planning meetings.
Hope Works is known as Sheffield’s warehouse rave central - with an underground, DIY feel that’s reminiscent of the 90s rave scene, all sticky floors, homemade flyers and a smoky atmosphere picked out with strobe lighting.
Keeping this look and feel while building a website that is, behind the scenes, highly technical and responsive, was our challenge.
We pored over hundreds of photos of the club, including in the site the ones that best confer the grungy essence of Hope Works - the graffiti in the toilets, trainers on the floor, black and white images of the lighting over the decks. To show the dynamic energy of the place we used video footage instead of a hero image on the homepage, placing a film grain effect over it to evoke the feeling of actually being in the crowd, dry ice pumping as the beat drops.
We kept the website easy to navigate, with a simple but visually effective main menu and the upcoming events and lineups at the forefront.
The flyers for the events are designed by different promoters, so to tie the looks together we kept them in black and white until they’re hovered over. We used this technique throughout the site, in keeping with Hope Works black and white logo, with the menu items and resident DJ photos appearing in monochrome until a mouse hovers over when the colour is revealed.
The main CTA (call to action) of the website is ticket sales, so with this in mind we made the artists and line ups stand out on the home and event pages, putting ticket sales at the forefront.
A clear and easy purchasing process is vital for UX (user experience) - site users need to be able to complete their purchase in as few steps as possible so they don’t lose momentum. We made clear CTA buttons, placed prominently beneath every event and line up which take the user directly to the third party ticket seller where they can complete their purchase.
This is a much simpler process than before where site visitors would need to go to Hope Works’ social media channels and were then directed to the third party site. Our clear and straightforward CTA keeps the Hope Works site as the main attraction.
Part of Hope Works’ USP is its out of the way location - it’s tucked away in Sheffield’s industrial outskirts, evoking underground warehouse party culture with its feel of having to be “in on the secret” to go.
We had to strike the balance between making the most of this atmosphere, while also making it easy to locate in practice. We achieved this by linking Google maps to the site, keeping the look and feel of the site intact by incorporating it behind scrolling text.
Our next objective was to make the Hope Works site fully responsive for mobile devices - this was an issue with the old site, with users finding it difficult to view content and navigate the mobile site.
We made the new site fully responsive - as good for Google as it is for site visitors - making it easier to use and more likely to rank in the search engine results. We saw a sharp increase in the numbers of viewers on mobile devices, going from 79.53% to 85.56% - with another notable drop in the bounce rate and more clicks through to complete ticket sales.
Maintaining a direct line of communication with your target audience isn’t always easy in a world filled with digital noise. One of the best ways of achieving this is with a mailing list that customers opt in to when making a purchase, and that site visitors can subscribe to.
We built a functional database for Hope Works, integrating the email provider platform Mailchimp. In keeping with our goal to make everything easy and quick for Hope Works to manage themselves, we handed over the reins to the Hope Works team for ongoing management.
This allows the team to quickly and easily inform their target audience about new events, merchandise and DJs, straight into their inboxes, removing the risk of being hidden by the whims of social media algorithms.
We took the Hope Works logo which has been in use since it opened 10 years ago and made it fit for a fully responsive site, keeping the same look and feel while ensuring it looks great across all platforms and devices. We also incorporated the Here for Culture logo - the provider of a COVID relief grant that supported Hope Works through the worst of the pandemic.
We provided a template for event listings that make it easy to both list all the info - for example, start and end times - and for site visitors to read the info at a glance. This cuts down on the admin time for the Hope Works team when listing new events and ensures that no information is left out.
The site we built for Hope Works allows plenty of room for future development, with the capacity to add and build on what we’ve created. As Hope Works continues to grow the loyal following it built over its 10 years in business, our site will grow and expand with it.
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