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

Testing the Unknown

For the last few months, we’ve been working behind the scenes to design and build our new website. We’ve consulted with audiences and staff through focus groups, workshops, surveys, and informal chats over cups of coffee in the kitchen to find out what people really want from our website.

While we’ve done our best to take all these things into consideration when making the new site, we know we won’t get it perfect first time. But rather than waiting until the whole site is finished to find out that we’ve got something wrong, we’ve decided to launch two event page from our new website: one for our ‘Into the Unknown’ exhibition, which seems appropriate; and one for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Tempest.

This isn’t the final version, but it does contain all the elements we’d like to see when we launch the new site.

Some of the main things we hope to achieve are:

– a website that works well across any device: desktop, tablet or smartphone.

– a clear hierarchy of information, all available on one page: we’d love you to read everything about our events, but we also know that sometimes you just want to know the key ticket information without having to scroll too far or open a new window.

– a showcase for our photography and video: from Rain Room to the set of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet, we’ve had some of the most photogenic events here at the Barbican and on our new site, we’d like to give more space over to them, without drowning out everything else.

– a chance for you to go deeper into the event with our extra content: blog articles, podcasts, video interviews, interactive essays and more.

– more places to discover what else the Barbican does, from related events, to making the most of your visit with shopping, eating and drinking opportunities.

As this is a work in progress, we’d love to hear from you if you think we’re on the right track so please let us know in the comments below if you like the new designs and how we could improve them.


Trevor Hancock

As I briefly commented in your comment flyout box, I have not had time yet to make a full tour of the website. But I think it is very good having animated artworks on the front page of the “Into the Unknown” section, this certainly draws the eye – I thought the picture was a still until I realised the massive space thing was slowly revolving! I hope the animated artworks appear OK on all necessary devices, but I can imagine that some lower-power older PCs or tablets might struggle – and I think it is very *important* for you guys to test the website with such devices (and make allowance for them in the web design – e.g. have conditional coding perhaps). This is because many people do not quickly upgrade to newer technology, especially “struggling artists”! (And it would be good for people with lower-powered devices to be able to at least view pictures as stills, especially if they would end up jerky as animations – which could badly affect their impression of your site.) For example I have an i7 8-core PC as an essential for my own 3D Digital Art work, but my tablet is a humble 1st generation Tesco hudl device! A comment on one selected graphic – I fatuously commented in the flyout that in the picture of the craft made up of multiple “doughnuts”, I wasn’t sure that dust clouds in space move measurably quickly – but on Earth we are not close enough perhaps to some phenomena to know that! My “acid test” of the website will come when making a booking hopefully for both myself and my wife – if the booking system works OK then the website will have been a success! That is where some sites can fall down… Also, for your information, I may well be attending on the meetup day (2 July 2017) with Digital Art Live (Paul Bussey) – to let you know, that is how I was directed to your site, so they are doing a good job of publicising the exhibition! Trevor

Ryan Nelson

Hi Trevor,

Thanks very much for your feedback – it’s really appreciated. We’ve definitely been testing the website with older technology and for lower-powered devices, the background video should just be replaced by a still image and/or gallery. And we hope to experiment with what content works best in that space – trailers, fast-moving background video, full bleed imagery etc.

In terms of the booking journey, we actually designed and relaunched this in Dec 2015, making it responsive more mobile and improving the user journey through to checkout. Hopefully you’ll find it a smooth experience when you come to buy tickets … but let us know if there’s anything you think we could improve.

Ryan Nelson – Senior Marketing Manager, Digital

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