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Case study

Northern Ireland Opera

Designing and developing a visually engaging website for first-time visitors to encourage repeat visits based on exceptional user experience.

What we did:

  • Research
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Digital Strategy
  • UX Design
  • WordPress Development
  • Systems Integration
  • Project Management

The Client
Founded in 2010, Northern Ireland Opera is an award-winning national opera company. They are synonymous with the highest standards of opera performance and the promotion of young local talent. 


The Brief
NI Opera engaged Zesty to create a website that truly represented their passion for community and music. The goal for this new, authentic site was to showcase who NI Opera are and how people can get involved to promote events and productions. The site had to be engaging, beautiful and intuitive, to delight new and returning users alike. 

What We Did
We held discovery workshops with the NI Opera team to establish their core goals and features of the site: 

  • a distinct brand identity 
  • a digital showcase for their productions
  • easy navigation to guide the user in the discovery of past productions, recent updates, and upcoming events 
  • modern, clean design that welcomed newcomers to opera without alienating traditional fans 
  • measurable results through user tracking, how much funding was generated by the site, number of visitors, signups, and other points of engagement 
  • demonstrate the impact opera can have on the community at large, and NI Opera’s commitment to developing young talent  

Our Google Analytics research revealed that 60% of users were accessing the website on mobile or tablet, which reinforced the importance of fully responsive design. A quarter of all website visits were generated by social channels, giving us a clear idea of how to calibrate search engine optimisation and findability. 


Community Engagement
Most of NI Opera’s website visitors are first-timers. By combining visually compelling design and easy-to-absorb content, we could create a site that would organically increase the proportion of returning users. The primary section of the website became “Discover Opera”, which allowed the site to display events and educate users about the organisation. The new site featured smart navigation and clever customer pathways; these drove users to learn more about the art form of opera and the unique opportunities afforded by the organisation. 


In line with the Opera’s brand guidelines, the “NI Opera Studio” and “Associate Artists” sections of the site were given special prominence. The NI Opera Studio is a cornerstone of Northern Ireland Opera’s mission to develop talent. We showcased up-and-coming talent through artist biographies and testimonials from seasoned professionals in this section. Associate Artists spotlights the work of opera singers based in Northern Ireland, with a focus on their recent and upcoming work.  

All NI Opera productions take place across a variety of venues. As such, we used clear calls to action and wayfinding to direct users to the productions they wanted to see and the booking system to secure their place. 

The site’s header, footer, and other key areas contain links for how to donate and support NI Opera, as well as links to its history and ways to join the NI Opera newsletter. 


A Digital Home
When the 2020 pandemic suddenly halted all artistic productions, NI Opera adapted its offering by running online events and productions. As the website was still in development by that stage, this allowed us to ensure that content relating to both online and in-person productions had a permanent home on the website in video or streaming format.

The online activity was very successful and has since become an ongoing activity for NI Opera. The insights gleaned from the workshops, competitor and analytics reviews fed into content priorities and hierarchy, which allowed us to develop a new information architecture for the site. A continued increase in online user engagement and new interest in NI Opera’s work continues to be a result of the recently-launched site.