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

The Next Phase

Over the last few months we’ve been working on getting our booking journey just right – making it perform better on mobile, updating the look and feel and adding improved functionality for customers. Having done that, we’re now moving onto the next stage of the project: tackling the main website. This will comprise of two main areas of work:

1) Building a new content management system (CMS)
Our current CMS is over 10 years old and while it still does the job, it lacks a lot of the functions that web editors have come to expect from their back end of the website. We’ll be working with a technology partner to help us build a new CMS with a new data architecture and workflow. But this isn’t just about how we work, it’s equally about how we can improve the online experience for our audiences so we’ll be looking at how we can best make recommendations that feel more tailored and personal.

2) Implementing a new front end design
As well as improving the system behind the website, we’ll be designing a new look and feel, bringing the brand up to date,using bigger, bolder imagery and improving the overall user experience.

Updating our current website while we work

mock-up of web project

These two workflows will be happening in tandem, with our ambitions for the CMS impacting design choices and the front end user experience defining how we structure the back end.

We imagine this next stage will take at least a year to complete so in the interim we’ll also be making some changes to the existing website – what we’re calling ‘quick wins’. We have two main criteria for quick wins: firstly, that they are changes that can be implemented easily on our existing platforms without substantial amounts of technical work; and secondly, that they will be a notable improvement for a significant portion of our users, whether audiences or staff.

There’ll be a range of technical changes that will be largely invisible to users but that will  improve the overall experience. There will also be some much more visible changes to branding and images. We want to be really clear with our audiences that these changes don’t constitute a new website, but rather, are the first small steps in the direction we want our digital platforms to go; so, switching to our house font Futura, updating the logo and header navigation, adding in a breadcrumb trail, and moving towards larger image formats. We’ll be making the design changes incrementally: changing an aspect of the site’s design, letting it bed in for a couple of weeks, and then moving on to the next element – we’ve already made the change to the fonts (which you may or may not have noticed)!

We hope that for you as our audience, these interim changes will mean you’ll enjoy a better experience  but that it will be clear that this isn’t a new website yet. Instead, this is just the first step in an exciting move towards fulfilling our ambitions for the Barbican online.


Simon Cope

Interested to know why you’ve opted to build your own CMS rather than e.g. Drupal or WordPress?

Nicholas Triantafyllou

Hello Simon

We have decided to use Drupal as the CMS for the new website. We’ll be working with a technology partner to help us to implement this with a new data architecture and workflow.


Nicholas Triantafyllou – Barbican Technical Lead

F Simons

I hope you won’t be making the images more important than the information about the event. Too many sites give us pictures that tell us nothing and we need to do multiple clicks to get to the text. Simplicity is good. Currently the site is very good in that we can see a number of events and the key info on one screen. Most of us can and do read!

Also will you restore the old feature (much missed by me) whereby one could see a history of our bookings.

Roland Zollner

Fully support the above comments. It is an absolute pain to have to click on every event to get the details when there is sufficient room to enter the full concert programme to be seen at glance; having to go into each puts me of browsing and is a waste of time.

Also booking history is useful.

L. Hill

Absolutely agree with the two comments above.

Unfortunately, this site looks as if it is dispensing with information and prioritising colour photos of artists instead. I nearly always know the artist and do not need a superfluous photo taking up valuable space on the screen!!

We need event information, simple as that – who, what, when, where and how long. You have all the information for each event, so why spin it out into multiple pages/clicks? It makes viewing and booking very very tiresome indeed.

natalie g

One of the most frustrating issues at the moment is the My bookings page – it shows 3 entries for each single ticket I’ve booked, and is generally not easy to navigate. The tickets I returned show as booked. It just states the basic info about the booking and the titles aren’t linked to the event pages.

N Girard

Came across this as I was booking two of the last few tickets for the James Holden & Maalem Mahmoud Guinia show.
Great to know you’re tackling the visual aspect soon, you’ve got great content strategies, I’m sure they can come out better on an improved version.

Let me know if you need help, I updated the website of a multidisciplinary space in Paris and would be happy to lend a hand. In any case, best of luck!

David A

Simplicity, transparency, direct presentation of key information are important to me. The website is already good so please beware the designer’s frequent error of removing key functionality…

Contrast the present clarity of the Barbican website with the truly terrible South Bank site. Please don’t take a single step in their direction!


No, I do NOT want to register BEFORE I know how much tickets cost.
I’d even prefer not to register at all (there are _far_ too many registrations in my name and in various other names I have started to invent), but it seems impossible in this day and age, just to purchase as ticket for a concert without giving away one’s whole Life story (cf big data).
Your new website is a step in the same [wrong] direction as everybody else seems to be taking.

David L

Please note the comments above about wrongly prioritising photos over text. I could not agree more with F. Simon, Roland Zollner, L. Hill and David A.

David A. really hits the nail on the head with his comparison to the South Bank Centre’s website. It looks good, but when I want to see all the events across the SBC in one go (most of the time), the scrolling is atrocious, even on a relatively high-powered laptop, no doubt due to the large volume of photos.

And yes, I just want to see all the information all in one go, in text, on one page, rather than having to look ‘below the fold’ or mouse over or click through.

That is all.

Sue H.

I hope the new website will be better than the current one. I have just spent more than 1/2hr trying to find out for a friend what is on in the theatre in Ocober and November. And I still am not certain. The main thing that the customer wants to know is what is on, where and when, and how to book tickets. Everything else is interesting, but not essential. So get the essential right first.

Frank Jeffs

Please don’t leave traditional desktop users behind in your quest for a greater mobile and tablet-friendly site. I’m really fed up with huge typefaces and photographs occupying the screen to the detriment of text and information.

Edward Kitchen

I agree with nearly all the previous comments, particularly on the desirability of prioritising information over photos and navigating multiple events. Also, having a fairly old computer and operating system I find difficulties on some sites which have been designed without backwards compatibility. Unfortunately, most surveys nowadays are merely pretending to consult the users and in reality the planned changes have already been decided. I hope that’s not the case with the Barbican’s site.


I would like a simple way of seeing everyone that is on under the heading Theatre and Dance, rather than have to go through month by month


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