Case Studies : West End Theatre Breaks

West End Theatre Breaks

West End Theatre Breaks

Full service development of a leading theatre breaks website.
This case demonstrates Double Eye’s full service development capabilities, demonstrating how we can take a solution from idea to launch, providing all the services necessary for a successful implementation.

Specifically, the case highlights our abilities in web strategy, user experience design, technical design, bespoke software development, 3rd party software integration and developing solutions for the LAMP platform (Linux, Apache, MySQL & PHP).

The Context

West End Theatre Bookings is a premiere UK theatre ticketing agent who has been providing theatre booking services for over 25 years. The company has been operating online for a number of years under several brand names.

Double Eye was asked to develop a new theatre booking website which would allow users to book theatre breaks (theatre tickets and a hotel packaged as a deal). From the outset, West End Theatre Breaks we’re clear they wanted to create a website which was considered exemplar in the marketplace.

The Objectives

Develop an exemplar theatre breaks booking website around the West End Theatre Breaks brand.

Create a user experience that was simple to understand, yet provided many booking options and communicated the vibrancy of London West End theatre.

Integrate the site with the company’s theatre and hotel booking systems to ensure that the booking process was completely automated, requiring no intervention from the company’s staff.

Provide a hosting platform for the site which was highly resilient and required little technical maintenance.

The Process

The project started with a technical assessment of the current booking systems, as it was likely these would impose restrictions on the other aspects of the project. In fact, the current booking system influenced the detailed requirements, user experience and technical architecture.

Following the assessment, requirements workshops and brainstorming sessions were held with the West End Theatre Bookings team. To complement internal requirements, a market analysis was conducted and user expectations were collected through focus groups. The outputs of these sessions were consolidated into an agreed set of requirements which aligned business objectives, user expectations and market weaknesses.

The user experience was designed from the requirements session outputs. Initially paper based wireframes were used to model user journeys and key functionality. As the design evolved, an interactive HTML prototype was built to simulate the functionality of the final system. This proved invaluable for user testing the solution to ensure the optimum user experience. The user experience development activities were concluded by authoring functional specifications.

Working from the requirements and functional specifications, the technical design was conducted through a series of workshops. The outputs of which agreed:

  • The solution was to be built on a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL & PHP) architecture.
  • The site would be independently hosted using a dual server load balanced system to ensure performance and provide resilience.
  • Webservices were to be used to interface with the 3rd-party booking systems hosted elsewhere. A caching mechanism was designed to mitigate any performance issues.
  • Site content would be held in a database and a structured content model would be adopted. A bespoke CMS tool would be developed to allow content editing.
  • The PHP Zend framework would be used to ensure a speedy development cycle.
  • Google Analytics would be used for statistics reporting

The system was developed and integrated, in just over 2 months and 3 rounds of client and user testing was conducted before site launch.

The Outcome

The site was launched in October 2007 as one of the company’s flagship web properties. The approach and user experience was rapidly validated by end users as the site delivers a significant volume of transactions on a daily basis.

A post launch user testing exercise was conducted to ensure the user experience met with the needs of the target audience and excellent results were reported.

Key Points

  • Full serviced solution development from concept to launch.
  • User experience design, prototyping and user testing.
  • Technical assessment, design and development
  • 3rd party systems integration using webservices
  • Development on the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySql and PHP) platform
  • Robust hosting architecture
  • Bespoke Content Management System development.
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