Atomic Smash homepage splash

Bristol Festival of Ideas

Services delivered

  • Research and requirements gathering
  • Branding
  • WordPress development
  • Training and on-going support
Visit website
Desktop image ofBristol Festival of Ideas Wordpress project Mobile image ofBristol Festival of Ideas Wordpress project

Bristol Festival of Ideas

Services delivered

  • Research and requirements gathering
  • Branding
  • WordPress development
  • Training and on-going support
Visit website

New branding and website for Bristol Festival of Ideas

The Bristol Festival of Ideas aims to stimulate people’s minds and passions with an inspiring programme of discussion and debate throughout the year. Celebrating its 10 year anniversary in 2015, it’s run more than 2,000 events since its beginning as well as putting on major projects within Bristol’s academic landscape.

What was needed

The Festival of Ideas team required a new look and feel to their brand that could be applied to a vast programme of events. The team also desperately needed a new website that was quick to update and could be flexible enough to work with multiple venues offering different ticketing solutions for the event booking.

Atomic Smash decided to approach this as two separate tasks:

  1. Providing a new brand that worked well online and offline
  2. Designing and developing a new WordPress website that would work across mobile and desktop.

Brand design

After conducting an extensive branding discovery workshop with the team, it became clear that the festival’s current identity was not complimenting the exciting and wide ranging programme of events on offer. Due to the festivals diverse audience, great care was taken in forming an identity that wasn’t likely to alienate. We therefore took into consideration sensitivity towards any dramatic switch in direction from the current branding.

Bristol Festival Of Ideas Logo old and new

A contemporary type mark was crafted in a variation of stacking options allowing for maximum flexibility during application. Drawing from the current branding a modern take on the existing pink was created and used within a dynamic slash this in turn was pulled out and used as a graphic device throughout other collateral. The slash mark also works with the numerous seasons of events that are rolled out throughout the year acting as a over arching umbrella in which everything can sit within. Tailored colours were especially selected for each of these events – all of which could sit comfortably next to the slash graphic.

Website design


The first part of the process was to take a deep look into the existing data for Bristol Festival of Ideas and try to understand their users through Google Analytics. This gave us an insight into which sections of the website were performing best and which ones needed a complete overhaul. Then working with the BFOI team, we created some user personas and from informed research, were able to give them objectives that they wish to achieve through the website. This research was then combined with the objectives of the BFOI team and we created a conclusive set of deliverables that would service both the needs of the users and the BFOI internal team.

From the research and requirements gathering, our goals for the new site were clear:

  • Build a beautiful and user-friendly site that makes online booking easy and clear
  • Ensure social sharing and commenting is integrated into the site
  • Give the BFOI team a flexible WordPress installation allowing for building pages
  • Make publishing events quick and easy
  • Careful consideration to the mobile experience
  • Allow BFOI to prioritise certain events to ensure maximum visibility
Bristol Festival of Ideas Talk

Our research and requirements gathering process uncovered a series of problems that the website would need to solve. One example is that the BFOI run their events throughout the city at a number of different locations we wanted to create a map so that the user can see easily where each location is. However because of the vast number of events that are run, this map could easily have up to 50 different venues on it and some of those venues are only used once and so would not be of value to the user. It was decided that the map would show only the venues that are currently accommodating events therefore keeping it condensed and not overwhelming the user with information that is not important.

Bristol Festival of Ideas Venues

Prototype + Design

We began the new website design after the new brand had been fully developed. Having a fresh looking website and set of brand guidelines meant that we were able to choose a web font that complimented the offline typography but also worked well across a number of different devices as we discovered earlier from the research phase it was crucial to design a site that would work well on a mobile phone. We paid very close attention to detail on the home and individual event pages ensuring that it was easy to filter and sort events, and jump to a particular date as well.

Bristol festival of Ideas Wireframing

Furthermore, we explored the usage of colours on the new website thinking about how we could quickly associate talks together, it was then decided that each season would have it’s own colour code and that BFOI would be able to set this in the admin of the website therefore giving them total control of this part of the website.

Bristol Festival of Ideas events grid

Exploring the archive

The BFOI have a rich archive of events (video, photographs and audio) that were completely lost on the old website. It was set as an objective to make these more accessible on the new website and allow the team to link back to old events when adding a new one if there was a relationship. Having this flexibility through WordPress will allow users to discover talks and debates that previously would of been difficult to find. This also gave the opportunity for BFOI to re-use content through the blog and encourage social sharing. This really encapsulates what the new website is all about – it is a showcase of the new talks but it also is a rich resource of information and archived events that users can visit again and again.

Bristol Festival of Ideas archived event

Designing around users specific needs

Designing a single page to hold all of the valuable information for each event was a challenge that we really enjoyed. How do you design a page where some events have sponsors whilst some don’t, some are paid for events whilst some are free, or some run all day whilst other run over a set period? We spent a very long time working out exactly what information would need to be shown on the single event page and also what snippets of information were most important to the user. The outcome is an incredibly easy to use but powerful WordPress backend where each section is clearly labelled and the site will stay standing if certain bits of information are not added.

The feedback on our new website and branding has been overwhelmingly positive. Zoë Steadman-Milne Bristol Festival of Ideas

Development using flexible content

Before, on the new website was developed, the BFOI team would sometimes need to create microsites to promote a certain season. We were able to integrate this into the new site by allowing them to build ‘season pages’. Expanding on our modular content approach, we built an extra module for the team to allow them to pull through every event that was tied to a particular season. This then allows the BFOI team to create curated pages around a particular season and share that page as part of their marketing material. Items that they may wish to share on that page include:

  • Programme of events (a PDF download)
  • Rich media embeds from previous events
  • Sponsor logos
  • Call to actions encouraging people to sign up for the newsletter
  • Social sharing
  • Links to events in that programme

Having these dedicated landing pages has eliminated the need for the BFOI to manage multiple sites and therefore saved valuable time and effort since the new site was launched.

Another area we spent time on developing was allowing the team to control the text that appears on the booking button e.g. ‘Book tickets’, ‘Book season ticket’ or ‘Sold out’. To allow for total flexibility, our solution was to build logic around having a default button title but also allowing for BFOI to override this if needed, articulating to their users exactly what they needed to read.

Is your website smart enough?

See how we could in integrate your website to make it work harder for you.

Speak to Piers

We also needed to work out a way for the site to work with multiple booking systems and multiple locations. This was handled quite simply by allowing for the BFOI team to choose in WordPress whether the event had a ticket option or a season ticket, allowing a choice to either an internal or external link to send the user off to. We are currently looking at how we might be able to integrate the site further with Eventbrite as we have done this for other clients in the past.

The website makes the most of the Twitter API by pulling in the organisations most recent tweets and displaying them on the website. The BFOI team have a large number of twitter followers, therefore it made sense to bring the conversation to the website for maximum exposure.

On-going relationship

We have an excellent on-going relationship with the team and meet up every six weeks to have a review of the website, look at Google Analytics and any insights to see what has or has not been working, and then create some actions to be done on the website before the next meeting. This has been really valuable to the BFOI team as it allows for a focussed discussion to explore new ideas from both sides. We have already improved on a lot of areas of the website from user feedback and also new technological changes in the short time since the site has been live.

As well as these regular meetings, we also ensure that the WordPress engine running the website is constantly kept updated to minimise security threats as well as keeping performance at a maximum.

Back to top

Keep up to date with Atomic news