It was a joy to work with world renowned Akram Khan Company, they had such beautiful contemporary dance imagery and video. But the pressure was on as they had a fixed deadline to launch a new website: the world premiere of a new work.
Whenever we’re tasked with creating a new website we begin by asking why? Why does this client want to invest in replacing what they have at the moment?
In this case the biggest driver was that the existing site was restrictive and didn’t allow the company to show-off their incredible archive of imagery and video.
They also felt that the site had to work much harder to convey the impact of seeing the company performing live.
Incredibly high quality photos and videos produced by the company were lovely to work with – you can really see the impact in the site.
Lindsey and Céline from Akram Khan Company joined Sam and Anna in the Cog studio to work out the site structure and kick off the project
Our site plan, drawn up after the meeting
We started by looking at analytics data from the existing site, studying the sites of peers and competitors, reading through audience feedback, and picking the brains of the in house team. We thought about the key users of the site and the kinds of information they are looking to find. We build personas for those who want to quickly book tickets, students and researchers looking for background information, and professional dancers looking to work with the company.
Working with the in house team we planned the site’s structure to best suit those audiences, adapting the language used for menus, and reducing the need for sub-sections and complex navigation.
We created a hierarchy of information, using images and video to full effect. By clearly signposting the content in that way, users can find the information they need as quickly as possible, whilst having a rich visual experience throughout the site.
Of course, with any new site it was also important that the viewing experience was seamless across any device – mobile, tablet and desktop. That responsive approach was key to all our design thinking.
Designing for different devices
We kept the visual styling pared-back and simple (so as not to overshadow the images) but we also wanted to give the site a unique visual personality. So, we introduced an unusual serif font for headlines and large text. Confident quotes are used throughout, bringing out the thoughtful, narrative nature of Akram Khan’s work.
To reinforce the simplicity of the navigation we introduced large text explanations to clearly signpost what is in which section of the site. The large text echoes the quote styling, creating a consistent visual language throughout the site.
Using an interactive map we made a feature of the world tours in the What’s on section by. It gives users a new way to find performances as well as emphasising that world touring is an important part of the company’s work.
At the heart of the site, each production has its own details page which we’ve designed as a modular template. Our clients can use that template to build up layers of content as it becomes available: rehearsal images, initial press quotes, video, production images, audience quotes and production images can all be easily updated as the production is developed.
The production overview page, shown here, also makes use of large imagery, giving a beautiful overview of the company’s work, past and present.
Once we started building and coding the site we crafted every detail, particularly the transitions between pages and the way that page elements interact with mouse-clicks (or screen-taps). This level of detailing has helped to create a sense of movement that reflects the work shown on the site.
Sæunn testing the site across devices
Having long admired Cog’s work, we were delighted to commission them to create our new website. Right from the outset, Sam and the team impressed us all with their clear understanding of our needs and obvious passion for good design. Without exception, every member of the team was efficient, responsive, open, friendly and professional.
Despite the tight deadline, Cog delivered on time and to the brief – the new website exceeds all of our expectations and is a wonderful representation of Akram’s creative spirit. For us, this is the beginning of an ongoing relationship with Cog, and we’re extremely grateful for their excellent work.
Lindsey Dear, General Manager, Akram Khan Company
Undeterred by the extremely tight deadline (it was designed and built in two months) we delivered the site to our clients with time for them to upload content and for us to check and test on different platforms and devices before the world premiere of their new work, Until The Lions.