CMS Web Development
Thorpe Park, “the island like no other”, is one of the UK’s leading theme parks, located in Surrey. Part of the Merlin Entertainments group, the park has developed to include several ‘world’s first’ rollercoasters, a resort hotel, and a summer events calendar boasting high-profile collaborations, with the likes of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here, Derren Brown and Ministry of Sound.
Thorpe Park initially engaged CTI to provide support and maintenance for their existing Umbraco site. Having developed and nurtured a collaborative relationship, we were the natural choice when Thorpe Park wanted a more strategic digital approach, to optimise and introduce new features. We were contracted from January 2017, to begin
The website needed to be enhanced in order to support a significantly greater number of events, as well as to promote Annual Passes more prominently. This new functionality was delivered as part of a
Fright Nights is held annually at Thorpe Park; dubbed the ‘UK’s premier Halloween event’, the scary celebration draws the season to a close on a high. The theme for 2017 was a collaboration with The Walking Dead. To promote the event, we implemented a site takeover, installing a branded skin to temporarily overlay the entire site.
Every aspect of the site was customised in line with the scary brief. This included animation elements such as ominous mist, reaching hands and crawling zombies; the site was engaging and constantly changing, encouraging users to come back. For added shock-factor, we animated a full-screen zombie surprise.
Timed to appear after dark, the takeover was preceded by a loading/warning screen, which built suspense and also protected younger users.
With a huge number of events to showcase, we designed a series of customisable countdown clocks, to create a growing buzz as each event drew nearer. Offering a full screen version, a thin banner or a sticky sidebar, the countdown was designed to allow maximum flexibility for the Thorpe Park team. They were able to promote a host of different events (from Fright Nights zombie takeovers to Ministry of Sound summer concerts) with differing levels of visibility and a variety of calls to action.
Whilst theme parks draw most of their attention with huge rides, events and attractions, it is also vital that they offer basic facilities for food, drink and retail. As such, we updated the ‘Food & Drink’ and ‘Shops & Offers’ pages. By installing a tab design, we were able to reduce the amount of scrolling required when searching for pertinent information.
The design of these pages focused on creating new components rather than set content. This allows for a huge amount of flexibility going forward, as the components can be reused to build new pages, creating a consistent site design in a cost-effective fashion.
We created a specific landing page to promote the mobile app. The page reveals several example screens from the app, demonstrating its capabilities in motion. This encourages users to download the new application and actively engage with the brand.
We improved the Opening Times page, to clearly and colourfully mark peak vs off peak times. This interactive calendar module appears in several locations across the site, allowing the user easy reach of the information they need. It also comes combined with clear calls to action, encouraging ticket purchasing once a date has been identified.
In line with the significant increase in the number of events scheduled for 2018, we updated the Events section to support the increased load. This included creating clear, communicative pages to cater for the various different event formats, offering information and directing customers to make a booking.
Whilst a specific landing page was created to showcase all upcoming, time-relevant events and details, provisions were also made on the homepage to effectively promote events throughout the year. Improvements to the CMS, allowing for regular and timely updates to manage the event-load, underpinned all of this.
With an ambition to grow Annual Pass sales, it was vital to boost the visibility of Annual Passes across the Thorpe Park website. Global signposting, such as calls to action that pop up at the bottom of each page, helped to bolster visibility.
In line with Merlin’s research and best practice codes we designed a new page to promote different ticket types available, demonstrating the value of upgrading.
All of our projects undergo rigorous testing, throughout the software development process. In order to deliver the utmost quality for clients and their respective users, our in-house QA team ensure that all end products perform accurately and reliably under normal and abnormal conditions. Testing is followed by continual monitoring of software performance, to prevent reoccurrence of any issues and to ensure efficient ongoing operation.
As such, we were able to confidently deliver a well-designed, scalable and technically stable result.
In line with the overarching brief across the whole Merlin group, we delivered a site that was optimised for use on mobile devices and that also offered the client maximum flexibility and control. Bolstering the eye-catching new developments, we provided a full service improvement: updating the site to the latest version of Umbraco, developing SEO and evolving the site map.
The new page style is cascading through the site, simplifying and modernising the way that key information is portrayed.
See the results for yourself on the Thorpe Park website.
We have been working with CTI Digital since January 2017 and have implemented multiple improvements to how we communicate to our customers online. We are pleased with the feedback we have had from our site continually improving and have some interesting plans to deliver on this year again with CTI
Sean Maitland, Digital Brand Manager for Thorpe Park
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