A cut above the rest

By Robert Brown

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User Experience

There are new tricks and tools arising every day in the ever-evolving world of digital technology. This is especially crucial to developers, whose role revolves around being fascinated, not frightened, by these constant developments. Exploring these opportunities is vital, ensuring that both they and their clients are always one step ahead. Often one of the biggest challenges of all can be taking this infinite catalogue of resources, and making an informed decision on how best to confront each project. We spoke to two of our developers, Paul and Chris, about their process of working with the People’s Theatre and NE1, two very unique projects with diverse requirements. They explained the things they needed to consider and how they dealt with them.

Project 1: People’s Theatre

“When working with the People’s Theatre, it was crucial that they not only had a bold visual identity, but also a simple way for their audiences to book tickets online. It was known that they had an original booking system that was very familiar to them and were also undergoing renovations that meant seats needed to be changed regularly. 

A combination of jQuery, PHP, HTML and CSS was therefore used to build the actual seat layout, which was integrated into the bespoke CMS system used for the project. To deal with the fact that the People’s Theatre weas used to their previous booking system, the decision was made to create something tailor made to their needs but that uses the same CMS structure. In terms of the renovations and changes, the system was hand built in such a way that could also include a layout builder, allowing them to build their own theatre layouts within the CMS and therefore cater to any new seating arrangements. As well as this, custom ticket types were implemented within the system so that the company could introduce children’s tickets as and when they wanted at a separate price point from concessions and adults. The system is now flexible enough to allow certain ticket types for certain shows.”

View the People's Theatre website project

The booking page on the People's Theatre website

Project 2: NE1

“When it came to working with NE1 on their Get into Newcastle website, one of the biggest things to consider was the scope of the project. They needed it to be extremely efficient in order to query a vast amount of information of up to 6,000 events and 1,000 venues and be able to do all of this without the site becoming slow and sluggish. It needed to offer a great user experience, being easily searchable and filterable whilst also modifying to fit each type of device correctly. 

As the site was going to require a lot of client-side Javascript it was decided to implement a sort of pseudo isomorphic rendering. Ampersand JS was used for the client-side behaviour and Handlebars templates were used for the views as they can be rendered both client and server side. Using this architecture, we gained the speed of a JS application while maintaining compatibility with Google for SEO and marketing purposes. Javascript was also used for the complex grid layout. We spent a lot of time optimising this layout process to ensure it was as close as possible in performance to CSS, which made for the best possible user experience. This meant we could also transform the home layout on mobile devices to have a slider menu.”

View the NE1 website project

A photo of the NE1 website homepage

 Being bold with technology allows us the ability to do more. Most importantly, it allows for projects to be built uniquely by means of the resources that are right for them. It is this that allows for not just generic systems, but ones that are truly bespoke and in keeping with both client and customer needs. 

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