One of the deliverables for IXD302 is to create a website and brand proposal for a non-existential company named Hill Street which is a real location in Belfast located near the cathedral quarter. To begin my research I must analysis and dissect other local competitive websites in order to get a better contextual understanding for when I am writing a proposal for my hypothetical proposal project.
For this analysis I will be evaluating and taking note of:
- What the website’s content contains and how it is structured.
- Attractions, events, eatery’s, etc.
- How it reflects its physical ‘essence’ through digital means such as colour, visual marques, etc.
- Booking/prices, etc.
- Videography, illustrative and photographical elements.
- Information about locations and places.
The above ‘video’ shows a collage of screenshots of the hero banner that is featured on the site which displays the means, motives and opportunities of the website, as it engulfs the screen with only the nav visible it presents itself as a ‘teaser trailer’ for the whole website. It divides the website into four categories; visit, stay, live and work. The videos showcase a vibrant and sprawling quarters with many luxury and exclusive opportunities for the audience to be involved in such as historical and modern sightseeing, bars, restaurants, activities, accommodation, work, etc. It’s simple yet effective in capturing the audiences attention and understanding. Similarly, we can see the use of a minimalistic sans serif font throughout both the headings and paragraphs. The use of these fonts showcase its modern outlook and also grab the users attention.
On another section it grids the content up allowing the audience to click through with ease. As we can see above it shows 8 different categorized sectors such as grade A offices, residential accommodation, retail outlets, media campus, hotels, tourism, leisure and industrial distribution – all sectors native to the Titanic Quarters. Additionally, this gives me the opportunity to look through Hill Street and find the corresponding and local sectors to include in my proposal.
We can see here Titanic Quarter has included a project progression section on their home page displaying what projects are in development and to be expected this gives the audience a sense of live communication between them and the website as it feels like the page is constantly updating. It also potentially draws the audience back to the website in the future to find out more about these projects.
Similar to the section beforehand we can find at the bottom an “update” section which allows users to browse news, events and discovery material. This is essential to keep your audience maintain and engaged while providing them with plenty of information, updates and opportunities. Also, there is a pattern in the way the majority of images are being shown on the site as it shows a prominent skyline in the composition along with a statured wide-angle frame. This is an attempt to convert the physical street essence’s of the quarters into a visual digital replica showcasing the vast, spacious and modern ‘mini world’ that the titanic quarters portrays.
As seen from the hero banner at the beginning we find that the website is divided into 4 main sections. The navigation bar guides us through all these sections structurally and orderly. When clicked on a link from the nav bar e.g. “Staying” we find that it brings up a new page relative to the one before while showing what accommodation is located in the Titanic Quarters. There is a constant influx of information on each page which displays a heading, paragraph that mentions both the historical and present backdrop of the location(s), grid section to select hotels along with the location and contact details to book the hotel. Additionally, on each page there is a ‘further information’ section that brings up the host sites contact details.
On the ‘contact us’ page there is a transport information board detailing each accessible route to the titanic quarters with additional links/timetables. This is one of the many features that I will talk about in my proposal as being from Belfast myself I never knew where Hill Street was located. I will put major emphasis on this to try in an attempt to draw in an audience and spread awareness of its location.
Looking at the logo and wordmark we see a semi-abstract visual that mimics the four funnels that resided on the famous RMS Titanic before sinking. This logo is symbolic of itself and its location thus conforming a relevant logo to the identity of the website. The wordmark also contains the location where the quarters resides, this can act as extra support in putting the Titanic Quarters on the map.
Focusing on the four main colours which are used throughout the Titanic Quarter’s website that create and holster their brand identity. We can see that these colours are used appropriately and moderately throughout the website on different sections of a page. This makes the content more contrasting, unique and eye-catching towards the user with it also maintaining the same colours that are symbolic of the RMS Titanic.
Cathedral quarters home screen is different from the previous competitor Titanic quarters yet still consists of the same contextual formula. When we first enter the site we are met with a huge hero banner engulfing the entire screen which consists of a collage of images. This also acts as a ‘teaser’ for what the location consists of showing a more business-oriented approach. Unlike Titanic quarters there is more typographical content shown as CQ are going for more of a technical approach due to the number of vendors, businesses, etc., in close proximity to each other. The navigational bar is divided into 6 sectors such as what’s on, for business, about us, explore, news and contact. This is used to compact and order the vast amount of content that the page prescribes allowing for easy access through the categories.
Cathedral quarters hosts a wide range of social events and opportunities from the home page alone. The ‘what’s on’ and ‘news’ sections create a sense of activeness among the site allowing the user to engage and be updated on events, jobs, exclusives and activities. The home page also includes a clustered and chaotic informational section that describes the history, organisations and also activities such as art, theatre, music, circus, and dances. This chaotic structure can be seen as the visual representation of the bustling and confined streets of the cathedral quarters with its many activities, restaurants and businesses to explore. T Also, similarly to the Titanic quarters, it contains all of the ‘big players’ that are located within its borders. This is important for me as I need to research the many businesses which reside on Hill Street as this gives me the ability to know what kind of people I am proposing for.
Another interesting additive throughout their website is the ‘keep in touch’ section which is prevalent on nearly every page. This is a good way to keep the user engaged and updated in case of events, activities or new businesses that are being created. It is a worth note section as this can help propose a more interesting and tempting proposal.
The explore page is a very interesting and strategic feature of the site, this is especially relevant to my proposal as one of the main investing features of my proposal will have a major emphasis on putting Hill Street on the map and prescribing awareness to what activities there are and where they are. In this map, we can find numerous venues, accommodation, sightseeing, parking and eateries within the borders of what is considered cathedral quarters. This pinpoints many vital businesses and gives way for a chance to discover new and exciting businesses.
Upon clicking on an icon, it opens a business along with all their credentials such as phone number, short bio, email, website and address. This creates a more communicative and validating approach to many of the businesses which are located here as it feels more legitimate when a website of this nature displays this in a professional way. In my opinion, it is a brilliant way to display and discover businesses.
Similarly seen on the Titanic Quarter page this offers all the various modes of transportation to get to the cathedral quarters such as foot, bike, bus, car, etc. then offers a more detailed approach into each mode of transport, e.g. parking.
Although Cathedral Quarters doesn’t contain a booking process on the site, instead it contains hyperlinks to the booking process on the native sites. Although, a smart thing about this site is it gives the location, date and price in the corner making it easier to see all the vital information. This is also combined with an article concluding the events description, etc. As this makes it easier and simpler for users to gain access to this information, it gives more incentive to book an event or table at a restaurant.
For Cathedral Quarters I really enjoy the colours which have been used with their ability to showcase each and every sector of the quarters such as the navy being representational of their more office/technical side, pink which showcases the creative and arty side which is supported by the highlights being seen under news articles and the white which creates a pure and clean appearance, perhaps representational of the cathedral itself. Its ability to visually merge all these sectors through colour, structure and typographical selection converts their ‘environmental essence into a digital identity.
The Cathedral quarters logo is a more analytic type visual shown in the ‘Q’, this reflects the many prosperous businesses and workforces that reside in the quarters. Again we can find the location of the quarters below the wordmark signifying the urge to show the where-about of Cathedral quarters. Looking at the logo & wordmark gives me a good idea on creating one for my proposal.
Castle Court Shopping Centre
The home screen includes a navigational bar that is divided into six sections (minus Santa) including shopping, Food & Drink, Offers, What’s On, Plan Your Visit and about this allows for easy access to all that the shopping centre has to offer in an easy and identifiable way. We find that they are using seasonal events as an incentive to come to their establishment as we can see this throughout. This is important as I need to take into account seasonal events in my own proposal for Hill Street. Also, the home page includes many ways to explore, learn, interact, etc. with the establishment and its individual businesses. We can also see a preview of all of the following businesses that reside in Castle Court such as TUI, 3 mobile, etc. However, the one thing I greatly disliked about this site is the very pale transparent subheadings beside each section as seen above with the “shop”. It is basically unnoticeable.
Scrolling down further into the site we can find a “What’s on” preview section that allows us to see the most up to date news. Like I said before, this is great for engaging with your audience making them check your site for references to events that is happening within your establishment/boundary. Some things in the ‘what’s on’ section include discounts, high street voucher perks, seasonal and national events, etc.
An interesting and heavily promoted feature that is present on the site is the gift card section that allows users to purchase gift cards with a variable amount and spend it within the establishment. This is a great choice for a seasonal or birthday present allowing the customer flexibility on where they want to buy from. These flexible gift cards create consistency throughout the establishment as it acts as if all companies are working together. It is an interesting business strategy which I could propose in my proposal.
At the footer, Castle Court includes a newsletter to keep the audience engaged. It features many options such as their opening hours, contacts, navigation and everything that they include on the main website compact into the bottom.
Looking into the individual pages located throughout the site and navigation bar such as “Food & Drink” & “Jobs” we see that Castle Court offers a wealth of information to find what you are looking for in a structured and orderly manner. This greatly helps users get from point A to point B in a few clicks of a button to find out all their relevant information. Filter options such as “keywords” and categories help support this even further.
One of my favourite parts about this site is its ‘explore’ page that allows users to see where all the businesses are situated inside the establishment. Unlike Titanic Quarters or more appropriately Cathedral Quarters this site has adapted to create a fully navigational and interactive map inside close proximity. Additionally, upon clicking on a business it will focus on the slot and highlight it showing all relevant information such as opening times, website contact details and a few paragraphs on what the shop has to offer. This is an extremely innovative and unique way of showing exploring a close-quartered establishment especially for my proposal as it is mainly narrow streets.
Similarly seen on the previous two sites, we find a section dedicated to showing different modes of transport which can be taken to get to Castle Court such as car, bus/train, taxi and both local airports.
What have I learned?
Navigation – Interactive maps, modes of transport, timetables
Booking – Gift cards, quotes, Discounts, accommodation, living, activities, restaurants, parking,
Events – Seasonal, parades, light shows,
Informational – Historic & Present, information about businesses, news, jobs, contact details