London Transport Museum
Located in the heart of Covent Garden, London Transport Museum (LTM) is the world’s leading museum of urban transport. Our charitable mission is to use the story of transport to encourage, enrich, and ignite curiosity to shape the future.
The Museum’s investment in transforming its online presence is a long-term strategic decision made in 2019. Driven by the desire to simplify the customer journey, the Museum wants to increase opportunities for people to discover fascinating content about London’s transport past and present.
CTI Digital is a UK digital agency committed to making the web a better place. They utilise strategy, user experience, and open source technology to empower all types of organisations from charities and public sector, to commerce brands. Above all, CTI creates extraordinary digital experiences that enhance people’s lives.
The LTM and CTI project was a challenge in all the best ways for our teams. It involved problem solving, balancing requirements, and considering the wide range of users and stakeholders.
The new platform integrates three of the Museum’s prior websites into a seamless experience with connections to various other systems. The project delivered:
- Integration with a bespoke collections management system of +270,000 collections items including pictures, video, text and audio
- Integration with Magento store products for seamless integration with revenue-generating areas of the business
- Fully component based modules/templates to give full edit access to non-technical site managers
- Interactive elements all built and directly managed in the CMS
- User-tested UX design across the entire site including Apache Solr powered search and drag and drop refinement
- Extensive accessibility testing, meeting WCAG AA compliance and future accessibility improvement roadmap
A living breathing digital ecosystem
From the beginning of the discovery phase of the project, one of the key drivers was to deliver a futureproof website that was able to grow to meet evolving demands of the future – something that even impacted the build as the pandemic shifted business priorities. The choice of Drupal 8 and CTI’s bespoke Voyager framework, with a roadmap planned to upgrade to Drupal 9 and beyond, allows us to draw on existing modules and expertise from around the globe, with the flexibility to integrate many of the Museum systems and needs, within a constrained budget and timeframe. Since the website first launched in October, the LTM and CTI teams have worked to develop new features which seamlessly integrated into the platform. We have also developed a roadmap for future integrations into existing elements of the website, such as Direct Debit payments and Ticketing within the website itself.
Museum staff empowerment
The CMS has empowered Museum staff to manage the website at varying levels of expertise. Site managers and editors can populate copy and media throughout the site, as well as embedding items from APIs such as Collection items and Shop products. It has also enabled the introduction of interactive games and quizzes to create a seamless user experience and truly integrated pages showcasing the wide offering of the Museum. The use of a drag-and-drop page building with several customisation options allows site managers to maintain a strong digital brand and the illusion of sub-brands which meet the wide range of audience needs. The use of Pattern Lab ensures the site has a consistent look and feel, while meeting all accessibility guidelines.
Despite a reduced team due to the Coronavirus pandemic, staff across the Museum pulled together to migrate content from existing websites utilising the new features and templates, and created engaging, new content for use across the website.
As part of our goal to bring the collection to life online, a new Stories section was created, exploring topics and themes from London’s fascinating transport history from the evolution of iconic roundel logo to galleries showcasing our world-renowned poster collection to the story of London’s first black bus driver. This new section, fully optimised for SEO and social sharing, allows us to reach new audiences and ignite their curiosity about London, its past and its future.
The design of the new website also allowed the Museum to pivot to digital effectively and efficiently, which was imperative during a period of extended closure. During 2020 and 2021 the Museum’s Hidden London programme shifted from physical tours to virtual sessions hosted online with an expert guide. The new website’s Events Calendar and Hidden London pages were essential to the successful sale of tickets as well as offering additional insights into locations through our Collections pages, blogs and stories. This has allowed over 4,500 Hidden London fans more access to disused sites on London’s transport network where it isn’t possible to run physical tours.
For families and schools, new activity pages were created with interactive and downloadable activities. During a time when children’s learning has been impacted by the pandemic, this has supported learning and play from home. It has also enabled continued engagement with the Museum’s popular families and school visit programmes. Activities have been downloaded over 10,000 times.
A site designed for all – Accessibility & UX
London Transport Museum preserves the iconic design heritage of London’s transport, and today Transport for London has one of the most recognisable brands in the world. Building on this legacy, the website was designed to be image and video led with new imagery of the Museum, our Depot and Collection and shop product items. We also integrated elements to tie the website in with other activities, such as the moquette flashes in the footer and specific pages, which are also heavily featured within the Museum galleries themselves.
The site was also designed with mobile and tablet use at the fore. Both CTI and LTM had extensive UAT and QA processes and we continue to test with a range of audiences.
Accessibility was integrated at every stage of the project spurred on by both the Museum’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and public sector accessibility legislation. We engaged with accessibility experts Test Partners early in the project to ensure design and development choices were made to be fully accessible to WCAG 2.1 AA compliance. This has ensured everyone is able to access the fascinating content and complete their goals on our website. All new content is assessed to ensure it meets accessibility guidelines, and alternatives readily available to empower users to make the best choice for them. We have a roadmap for future accessibility upgrades and continue to audit older content, digitise service requirements and move away from paper (which also helps us meet sustainability goals), and add closed captioning to all videos.
The flexibility of the new site also allows us to improve our user experiences. A major element of the website project was a complete refresh of the site architecture, moving from a menu that reflected internal departments to one that was based on user needs. The menu was split into a main B2C and a bottom B2C to direct users to the most relevant content.
Using the page builder functionality, content from around the Museum can be combined pages managed by site editors. By embedding collection items, donation calls to action and shop products into pages, the Museum team can direct users to content to meet discovery and revenue KPIs.
A strong, site-wide taxonomy also allows users to navigate between sections via related content embedded on the majority of pages. A much-improved search feature, powered by Apache Solr, also enables users to find content that meets their needs across all content types. These improvements have led to a 10% increase in pages/session.
A game-changer for the Museum
“Having a new and improved website is a complete game-changer for the Museum as it has allowed us to bring our collection and its fascinating stories to a global audience, with an improved user experience and focus on rich, searchable, shareable content. Previously, we had a number of disparate websites with little integration in place between them and no cohesive digital roadmap. Now, with the help of the CTI Digital team, we have taken a huge step-forward with our digital ambitions. Amongst the many great features, we are particularly proud of our new Stories section, revealing the often unheard history of people, places and transport.” – Harriet Burke, Head of Digital Marketing at LTM.