The latest content and news from the Barbican. Book tickets at
The latest content and news from the Barbican. Book tickets at

Smart Phones, Smarter Booking

At the Barbican, we want to make booking tickets for our events as smooth and as simple as possible. We know that for many of you that means making it mobile-friendly. In 2013, over 900,000 visitors accessed our website using a smartphone; by the end of 2014, this had leapt to 1.5 million visits from mobile devices – nearly 25% of all traffic to our site. And this number is going to keep growing as mobile and tablet devices overtake traditional desktop PCs.

Our first priority therefore is to tackle the booking journey – all of those pages that appear once you’ve decided what you want to see and hit the ‘Book Tickets’ button. We know there are lots of other areas to improve on, but we felt that starting here gave us a finite number of pages to work with and that improvements here would deliver the most impact for the most amount of users.

customer journey

The walls of our project room are covered in notes from all the feedback that we’ve gathered: we’ve been surveying customers and staff about their experience of booking tickets online, looking at what we can learn from other organisations, and ploughing back into the data behind our website to see how people buy tickets on the Barbican website, and where they give up.

With this knowledge, our web project team has gone through the current journey again and again – looking critically at what is there and why, what works and what doesn’t. Our main test we use is something we like to call ‘the bus stop test’: could I book tickets quickly and easily while standing at the bus stop waiting for the number 8 bus on my way home? This may seem silly, but it’s a practical way of reminding ourselves of the real world situations in which we use our phones – on the move, multitasking, with patchy 3G and low batteries. As a result, it’s obvious to us that speed is of the essence and that the booking journey therefore needs to be clear and uncluttered with bigger buttons, simpler copy, fewer distractions.

Based on this, we’ve started to mock up what this might look like, designing rough layouts for how a new booking journey might look. These aren’t final versions by any means, just works in progress to help us refine our thinking. Over the next weeks, we’ll be circulating these to get feedback to see whether our thinking is right.

Photo of prototype for new Barbican booking journey