The Challenge

Westminster Abbey is one of the most renowned landmarks in the UK. Steeped in over a thousand years of history, the Abbey continues to play host to historic occasions, religious ceremonies and ongoing daily worship. The coronation of English monarchs has taken place there since 1066, including that of Queen Elizabeth II, whose coronation in 1953 was the first to be televised. Many of the nation's kings and queens are also interred in the Abbey.

As well as continuing its established traditions into the 21st century, Westminster Abbey has successfully evolved to become one of London's principal tourist attractions, with more than one millions visitors each year.

After Squiz helped with a very successful overhaul of the Abbey's website a few years ago that brought a huge increase in traffic, it was time for a fresh redesign to stay on top of digital trends and provide a better user experience across multiple devices.

As a popular tourist destination for visitors from all over the world, many would access the site from different mobile devices. To continue providing an engaging platform and evolve with its customers, it was obvious that a responsive design was overdue.

Because of a substantial amount of interesting content that that was hard to find and therefore not used appropriately, the Abbey also wanted to use the opportunity to implement better search function across the site. The goal was to make the vast variety of information and services easily accessible and to bring relevant content - such as current events and famous visitors - to the forefront.

Whilst the Abbey was extremely motivated and excited about the project, one of the biggest challenges to overcome was the restricted budget available to develop a sophisticated dynamic site that not only looks great but also delivers functionality and is easy to maintain.

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The Solution

Budget Schmudget

Working with a low budget on the one hand, the Abbey also brought extensive knowledge and development skills to the table. Based on this, an unconventional approach was the solution to the issue at hand: Squiz and Westminster Abbey worked hand in hand and shared a lot of the work. The Abbey cut up pages and created the HTML before pairing with Squiz to implement the functionality into Matrix. This unusual process allowed them not only to involve their own development team but also got them more for their buck by saving on resources.

Smart search

To dig up all that information about events, famous people and royals that people visit for, Funnelback Search was implemented to crawl and deliver the masses of content through site search and faceted search.

Let's get responsive

To round out the user experience a new a responsive design was implemented, meaning users now get an experience appropriate to the device they're on.

'I have always had an excellent working relationship with Squiz built up over the 6 years I have been at the Abbey and the re-build in 2014 was no exception.' - Imogen Levy, Web Manager, Westminster Abbey

The Result

Westminster Abbey shines with their new website and can finally tie history and modern technology together to deliver the best experience for its visitors. A major part of this new experience is language-based homepage content dependant on the user's IP address - currently roughly 14 different languages are available, with a plan for more to come.

Thanks to the dynamic features on the homepage that push content into the spotlight based on the date of events, no royal will ever have to fear to appear for an event without a crowd.

'Having a dedicated team at Squiz which covered everything from UX to Project Management meant that the project ran very smoothly and being given a space in the Squiz office to work for a few days was extremely valuable and meant tasks could be worked through easily and quickly without having to phone for catch-ups - which saved huge amounts of time.' - Imogen Levy, Web Manager, Westminster Abbey

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