|Client:||Pacific National Exhibition (PNE)|
|Categories:||Strategy, IA, UX, Design, Development|
The Pacific National Exhibition is an iconic landmark with a rich history that dates back to 1910. Since opening its doors, the PNE is best known for being a hub of year-round entertainment, culture, and family fun for the greater Vancouver community. Its Playland Amusement Park draws hundreds of thousands of thrill-seekers of all ages and The Fair is an annual summer festival, featuring world class events, exhibits, and attractions with an attendance of close to 1 million visitors. Through giving back to community groups, hosting cultural initiatives and providing employment opportunities to the youth in BC, the PNE’s importance is firmly entrenched in the city’s cultural and historic fabric.
The PNE is an iconic landmark of Vancouver.
The PNE has been part of Vancouver for a long time, and unfortunately, the website was starting to show its age too. In 2017, the website is the gateway to finding out what’s new and what’s happening on the PNE grounds and your experience while you’re there. The existing design made for a poor experience on mobile devices, which was the desktop experience crammed onto a small screen. On top of this, the constraints of an older infrastructure translated to text heavy pages which made it even more difficult for users to find and access what they were looking for - all this added up to PNE.ca desperately needing a facelift to match how users find and digest content in 2017.
For the PNE staff, it was just as hard to keep their content fresh. Without a proper content management system (CMS) in place, there was a barrier to getting new information online and in front of users as quickly as possible for all of the different groups that keep the PNE running.
iamota set out to revamp the digital experience for both the end users and administrators - to create a rich, inviting, and engaging website that looked and performed seamlessly across devices and allowed the story and history of the PNE to effortlessly come to life.
Without a proper content management system (CMS) in place, there was a barrier to getting all that important information online and in front of users as quickly as possible.
It was important to create an experience that made it intuitive for users to find out what was going on at the PNE and have that be as easy as possible, while at the same time modernizing the look and feel of the brand online. Putting forth a cross-functional team effort, we started from the beginning and took a holistic approach to understanding the diverse groups of users that were using the site, what each group was looking for, and how to best deliver it.
End Users first
Our priority first and foremost was improving the user experience. With a deeper understanding of the site’s content hierarchy, we restructured the information architecture to resolve the previously cluttered and messy navigation and rework key content like pricing tables and ticketing information. To better engage the user, we took advantage of opportunities to use high quality photography to help tell the PNE story where it didn’t make sense to use letters and numbers.
Responsive, with a Mobile Focus
With 61% of their total 7 million page views in 2016 being on mobile, it was critical to have a mobile first focus and ensure we got that experience right. Any features that were added were met with: “Does this add value for the mobile user or translate well to smaller screen sizes?”. At every step in the process, each element was approached with and designed for a enjoyable mobile user experience that was consistent across other screen sizes as well.
Adding content and pushing it to market should be as simple for PNE staff as it was for a user to find out the Playland hours for any given day. Gaining a true understanding of all of the stakeholders that run the PNE, from event promoters and ticket operations, to sponsors, and operations personnel was essential to this exercise. The new custom CMS that powers the new PNE.ca is a powerful, component-driven Page Builder, with flexibility as a priority, so new content could be added with ease, giving the PNE team full ownership of their site.
The new custom CMS that powers the new PNE.ca is a powerful, component-driven Page Builder, with flexibility as a priority, so new content could be added with ease, giving the PNE team full ownership of their site.
Our ultimate goal was to deliver a website that was not just easy to use, but enjoyable to do so - one that would no longer send you on a rollercoaster of emotions trying to use or manage. At the end of the day, it is all about delivering value for the user and achieving this for a site that serves so many different types of PNE visitors, all looking for different things, was a tall task but the final result is one that accomplishes just that.
The custom backend on the WordPress platform gives PNE staff total control within a new enhanced CMS. With robust features and flexibility, this future proofs PNE.ca for years to come and will ensure fresh content is added quickly and seamlessly.
The new website captures the character of the PNE - easily accessible, fun, and potentially timeless. Users are better able to find the information they need, and it’s simpler than ever for them to purchase tickets online and plan their visits. We made their lives easier by adding modern features like filters for rides and events, to allow them to get right to the heart of the PNE, with an entire digital experience that is consistent across all devices.