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People ice skating outside of Somerset House

Somerset House

An online presence to portray the cutting-edge cultural offering of Somerset House

The Client

Somerset House offers a diverse and dynamic programme of contemporary arts and culture. It is a space where art and culture are imagined, made and experienced by 3 million visitors every year. It provides a home to a large community of creative businesses, artists and makers - including Somerset House Studios.


The Challenge

As a venue, Somerset House offers a space for contemporary arts and culture. It is a centre for modern arts designed for today's audiences and creatives. However, this cutting-edge cultural offering was not matched by their online presence.

Somerset House wanted to transform their digital channels to mirror their artistic programme. Their aim was for their online presence to truly represent their contemporary brand.

They wanted to do this by updating the design and technology of their digital channels.

iPhones showing different pages of the Somerset House's website

The Solution

We wanted to perform a digital transformation, showcasing Somerset House as a unique and dynamic destination. The new website would be used to demonstrate their distinctive heritage, rich cultural breadth and creative enterprise.

As Somerset House is a well-loved space with many visitors, gaining insight from the users was crucial. To help us understand the needs and motivations of both the current and potential audiences, we completed in-depth research, which led our team to create a design that focused on dynamic and moving imagery. This created an approach which visually engaged visitors whilst reflecting the energy of the unique physical space.

The technology used needed to be robust as the site attracts 2.5 million visitors every year. However, the approach also needed to be flexible enough to reflect the areas of art and culture that Somerset House displays.

A complex search solution needed to be at the heart of the development to fulfil the needs of visitors. This solution needed to be flexible enough to cover site-wide, events and residents. With many departments (IT, marketing and press teams) maintaining the site, the backend also needed to be easy to use.

Our solution was to build an open-source Drupal CMS to manage the content. We paired this with an Apache Solr search setup to give visitors a powerful search experience. We then integrated Somerset House's current CRM system with the new solution.

Our team also added editorial tools to provide automation and dynamic content surfacing. This helped to present related content from across the site to visitors. The aim of this was to reduce overheads for manual maintenance and to future-proof the site.

Launched in November 2016, the new site exceeded the expectations of the client.

Client Response

“It's a huge change from where we were and is getting a fantastic response from staff, residents, trustees and visitors. We feel that you have really captured the essence and energy of Somerset House."

-Somerset House Team

The Website

Screenshots of Somerset House's website

Screenshots of Somerset House's website

Screenshots of Somerset House's website

Screenshot of Somerset House's website menu

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