A flexible solution to empower the Arts Council and arts organisations across England

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About Arts Council England

Arts Council supports activities across England in arts, museums and libraries. Their website serves as an authority in arts and culture, and provides a space for job listings and community blogs. 

Between 2018 and 2022, The Arts Council invested £1.33 billion of public money from the government, and an estimated £300 million from the National Lottery, to help create art and culture experiences for everyone, everywhere.  Between 2023 and 2026,  the Arts Council will be investing £445 million each year in 985 organisations including music venues, galleries, museums, arts centres, libraries and more.

Their website acts as a secure hub for groups to apply for this funding and helps groups around the country to realise their potential.

In 2024, Arts Council England will have been a CTI Digital client for 10 years.

Business Challenge

Arts Council’s website and CMS capability didn’t afford the control and flexibility they required. The rigid website content management system meant that editors were unable to tailor the structure and content on web pages in order to communicate their messages effectively.

Therefore, over the 3-month project, we focused on delivering two main areas of improvement:

1. Increasing control, for Arts Council to edit their website

To do this we needed to:

  • Augment the existing CMS, enabling greater flexibility
  • Empower content managers, with more freedom to edit text and video

2. Improving user experience, when visiting the site

To do this we needed to:

  • Update the menu navigation
  • Organise content to be best available for users’ needs

Flexible Content Management System

Through Continual Development, we implemented a new flexible modular component-based CMS. This provides more control for the content managers at Arts Council.

Drupal’s modular content management system utilises paragraphs that allow editors to create text, embed videos, images and more. The component-based design removes barriers to entry for contributing to the website. It also removes the need for coding knowledge when editing content on web pages, and reduces dependency upon developers, allowing clients to keep publishing in-house.

With Drupal’s native support for capturing content in a structured manner through Content Types, serving fields tailored to suit, we created content types for the new Landing page and Homepage, with the later addition of a Blog Landing Page. 

These provided the skeleton for a basic page, including elements like: title, introduction and URL. Beyond that, to deliver maximum flexibility for content editors to ‘build’ compelling and interesting pages, whilst maintaining brand integrity, we provided the ability to assemble pages from a set of available component styles.

Arts council case study mockup 2

The components we created were:
  • Home Page Gallery
  • Showcase
  • Double spotlight
  • Featured content
  • Full Text
  • Header
  • Navigation Spotlights
  • Navigation Spotlights List
  • Quick links
  • Slides
  • Spotlight element

Each component type can be added to a page any number of times, in any order. Additional components can be developed in the future as the organisations content requirements adapt and change. These guides help content editors to publish in-house while complying with accessibility and usability standards almost subconsciously.

Application Optimisation - Eligibility Self Assessment Test

The application process for funding on the Arts Council website previously experienced a high abandonment rate. The form was unclear about what was needed from applicants before they started, resulting in the primary method of grant application receiving thousands of incomplete submissions each year. 

To improve the process, and ultimately make the experience more efficient and enjoyable for users, we designed an eligibility gateway that encourages users to confirm whether they have all of the information they need before starting the process.

Each funding type is now separated and provides four key areas of information:

  1. Key information - the status, dates, and type of grant
  2. About the fund - More information about why the fund exists and who it’s from
  3. How to apply - Eligibility information and FAQs
  4. Successful applicants - Previous examples of how the grant has benefited projects around the country

The Arts Council Eligibility Quiz

Scalable Support During High Traffic

Mid-year, Arts Council release the successful funding grants for the next period causing a potential influx of traffic. We implemented a scalable, cloud-based hosting solution to provide Arts Council with extra support during these times of peak traffic. The solution will scale up virtual instances during peak trading periods and scale them down again automatically, with zero downtime. 

Quality Assurance (QA) Testing

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.


We provide both Critical and Reactive Support to the organisation, becoming the digital extension of their Marketing team. This ensures maximum availability, as well as an ongoing allowance for developing and implementing a roadmap of digital initiatives, via our continual Improvement service.

The successful interface changes to the applications funnel have achieved a total abandonment decrease of -75.13%, from 90.3% to just 22.46%.

Whilst maintaining a consistent level of traffic YOY, goal completions have risen by a massive 167% with a conversion rate increase of 153.33% from 12.32% to 31.21%.

Fewer application abandonments

Increase in goals

Increase in conversion rate

3 month
Initial build time