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The Tank Museum Website Rebuild

Redesigning The Tank Museum’s Website Using Research

Tank Museum

During WW1, aged just 26, Lt. Basil Henriques commanded his crew to drive their Mark 1 tank directly into enemy fire; this was the first time in history tanks had been used in battle. A massive blast smashed the thick glass prism he was looking through, embedding shards of glass into his face.

Basil’s wife, Rose, received news of his devastating injuries by telegram. Basil was rushed to hospital in Rouen, where medics successfully removed the shards. One of them was large enough to be mounted as a stone in a gold ring, which he later presented to Rose as a memento of his close brush with death. This ring – known as ‘The Henriques Ring’ – is on display at The Tank Museum today; a personal link to the first tank attack in history.

The challenge

The challenge.

Despite being one of many captivating war stories at the museum, which boasts an exceptional collection of armoured vehicles, the attraction's website struggled to convey its vibrant experience and attract visitors. This is a common challenge faced by many similar attractions.

"Our original website was poorly specified and executed," explained Nik Wyness, Head of Marketing at The Tank Museum, "which made it difficult to use on both front and back ends.”

A solid working relationship

Nik had worked with both George Beverley and Lee Hill, before in different capacities. He had enjoyed a great working relationship with both, achieving excellent outcomes, so felt confident entrusting them with this important website audit and rebuild.

“I was also aware of the approach - and I wanted our site to be built specifically around defined journeys and outcomes for our different site users,” he explained. “That's what they do; structures and designs based on user research which are assimilated with the data we provide.

Do you start with design?

Many web agencies begin their work with polished, visual design.

However, it is not always a good idea to start with the final appearance of the product and then try to reverse engineer this back to the organisation and user needs.

“What impressed me about Insightful - and why I chose to work with them – was their scientific approach: analysis and user-led to build the foundations. And as we all know, getting the foundations right is what enables anything you build to stand up.”

Using a methodical approach

Understanding the museum's audience and their needs was very important. We looked at the current site and compared it to competitors.

We found several problems in the user journey, a passive homepage, confusing layout, repetitive images, and not enough evidence from previous visitors.

It was hard to find location details and contact information, and areas for families were not clearly shown. The process of booking was not good for mobiles.

We looked at what other competitors like Go Ape and Bournemouth Air Festival did well, as well as attractions like Marwell Zoo and The National Trust.

We looked at other visitor attraction websites and asked:

This is referred to as a Heuristic Evaluation. In simple terms, it is a method used to inspect the usability of a user interface. We assess the interface to identify and prioritise usability issues based on a set of established design principles (heuristics).

What other research techniques did we use?

As well as benchmarking, we used qualitative research to explore user behaviour and gain insight into how and why users planned a visit.

We interviewed tank enthusiasts, older couples, local and non-local families about their likes, dislikes, and needs when researching visitor attractions.

Key findings from this research, such as how far the different groups wanted to travel and the information each of them looked for on-site.

This gave us the breadth and depth of understanding to prioritise the relevant wants and needs. Now, we can move on to structuring the journeys and content needed on-site.

What was the next stage?

Next, we planned the new website rebuild and worked out how to organise, prioritise and categorise information and make it easier for users to interact with the system.

We brought in all elements of the team to perform a complete rebuild of the site using WordPress. This encompassed user testing, content production, and the creation of wireframes.

We collaborated with freelancers - visual designer Rich Moody and web developer Jamie Derrick – both brought in for their expertise. It was a real team effort.

What were the results post-launch?

As the primary object of the site is ticket sales, it is also impossible to provide like-for-like performance data as we were shut for much of the time. However, when we were able to open, we had a lot of information to convey to our potential visitors - regarding both the regulations and how we were ensuring a safe visit. There is no way we could have successfully conveyed these messages with our old site - and that would have had a negative impact on both ticket sales and the pre-visit experience.

A shorter and more effective web experience

Conversion rate has been much higher since the new site launched (though this is partly because all tickets had to be bought in advance online during the pandemic). Site speed is considerably faster than before.

The number of pages per visitor is down, as is visitor duration - but this in both advantageous because it shows the information prospective customers seek is now much easier to find with fewer clicks.

How was it working with the team?

“I didn’t feel I had to surrender any feeling of control – it felt very much like a collaboration at every stage and we had a great rapport with the team,” said Nik. “The way we were able to work together seemed to bring the best out in all involved and the final product speaks for itself - everyone’s expectations were exceeded. We had such a good experience; the project was delivered on time and on budget.”

WATCH: Our approach in three videos

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