Reinventing the Horse Racing Experience
Famous for its ties to the Royal Family and rich history of hosting world-class horse racing tournaments, Ascot is a legacy brand in the equestrian community. Since 1711, the iconic racecourse has evolved into two, year-round race tracks, a popular filming location and focal point for hospitality. Royal Ascot is Britain’s most popular race meeting, with £7.3m in prize money and welcoming 300,000 racegoers across five days each year.
Transforming Brand Perception
Ascot Racecourse came to Dept with a unique challenge; they had a best-in-class venue with global brand recognition, but their digital presence was far behind where they wanted it to be. With years of legacy content, functionality and an overwhelming amount information, our teams took on the challenge of completely reconstructing the Ascot online experience.
This involved redefining Ascot’s digital brand positioning with the release of a new website. The platform captures the vibrancy and dynamism of the racecourse, whilst delivering website visitors with a clear guide to the venue etiquette. An exploratory online experience is achieved through sleek user-journeys, seamlessly integrating with Ascot’s back-of-house systems and infrastructure, whilst providing a stunning website experience.
Unlocking the Ascot Digital Experience
Conceptualising A Digital Estate
A high-level of preparation was carried out to devise a plan of action, which radically repositioned the brand offering to focus on the lifestyle aspect of this world-renowned sports brand.
Over a 10-week period, Dept led a series of discovery, UX and branding workshops with Ascot to fully understand the market they operate in, and to pinpoint opportunities based on their position within it. This involved drilling down into Ascot Racecourse’s target personas to identify who they are, what they’re looking for, and what their pain points are, in order to map their key, on-site journeys. Based on this research, Dept comprehensively wireframed the optimum site structure for the platform, taking into consideration the research and recommendations from our SEO and CRO teams.
Image is Everything
The revamped Ascot website harnesses the enchanting experience a visit to the racecourse encompasses, through embedding the fashion, flare and excitement with a compelling, memorable and highly engaging user experience. The imagery on the site are editorial-style images of people enjoying the different parts of the venues such as drinking champagne, cheering at the races, eating in groups or on dates or laughing in the kids’ corners. This brings Ascot’s value offerings to the surface and visually demonstrates the broad appeal and openness of the venue which, in turn, has driven commercial results.
A taste of class was instilled site-wide, bringing the opulence of Ascot’s hospitality offering forward through intelligent design. Dept adopted the Ascot brand guidelines in a modern, fresh way that attracts new patrons, yet is still recognisable, to ensure the site maintains popularity among its loyal, long-standing guests. The font, colours, layout and content structure of the website nods to royalty, with blues, subtle animations, clean white space, picture-led content, clear call-to-actions, and smooth user-journeys.
Capturing the glamour of the race day experience
Information at Your Fingertips
Data, insight and Ascot’s objectives of expanding its hospitality venues and broadening its consumer base inspired the content hierarchy and user journeys on the new ascot.co.uk website. Findings from our research indicated that there was a lot of uncertainty for people contemplating attending an event at Ascot, which ultimately prevented them from booking. For example, users were concerned about parking, dress codes, and how the weather affects the day. Helpful guides were created and incorporated within the homepage design to clearly communicate this information. Likewise, the ‘Plan Your Day’ feature was redefined to bring key details to the forefront that were previously buried across the platform, feeding users relevant information and creating upselling opportunities through tailored packages.
Creating a slick mobile experience
Engaging Mobile Experience
With digital becoming increasingly mobile-led, it was essential to create a website that presents the Ascot brand in a visually impactful way. Due to the sheer size and amount of images, our team optimised the code and files extensively for speed and performance, ensuring it is fully responsive and performs excellently across all devices.
In taking a robust mobile-first approach, the UX and CRO teams worked closely with Ascot to audit and condense their online information from thousands to hundreds of pages, and structured the sitemap to tailor to audience personas. In the process of refocusing the website on the experience of attending the races, industry-specific content was minimised. Key content pages such as the Royal Ascot Style Guide, information on the four enclosures and the ‘Plan Your Day’ sections, were fully restructured and optimised for mobile viewing to ensure customers can discover and enjoy the content, wherever they are.
In the design, Dept moved Ascot away from a top-heavy ‘mega-nav’ to a mobile friendly ‘hamburger’ menu with an expandable secondary bottom navigation for users to search for racedays. The website modules were designed for mobile users and include more prominent calls to action. Extensive user testing was carried out with focus-groups, with equal weight given to mobile and desktop usage prior to launch.
The relaunch was a huge success, providing Ascot with a solid foundation to grow their digital presence. The new website was released during a key sales period for Royal Ascot, and recorded exceptional results that far exceeded the goals Ascot initially set for Dept.
As a result of digitally repositioning Ascot through the new website launch, ticket sales and revenue increased which was a prime objective for the undertaking. These statistics were taken from the first six weeks after launch:
- 21.32% year-on-year increase in revenue generated through the platform
- 41% year-on-year increase in e-Commerce conversion rate
- 22% year-on-year increase in transactions
- 22% year-on-year increase in the quantity of items purchased
- 2.11% year-on-year increase in organic traffic, despite more than a 90% reduction in live pages on the platform.
- 26.38% year-on-year increase in average session duration
The improvements made to Ascots mobile experience has been instrumental in driving conversions:
- 54% increase in transactions via mobile
- 41% increase in revenue generated through mobile transactions
- 50% increase e-commerce conversion rate on mobile
- Average session duration on mobile increased by 26% year-on-year
- Improved user experience with average pages viewed on path-to-purchase reduced by 20% year on year
- 10% increase in the number of visitors to the Raceday Fixtures page
- +1.5 million views of ‘What to Wear’ content pages
- The ‘Plan Your Day’ section saw a 147% increase in page views
Ascot and Dept have a longstanding partnership, collaborating on various projects involving design, UX, web and mobile app development, through to digital marketing campaigns. As one of the UK’s most long-standing brands, our teams value the opportunity to work alongside their in-house team to uphold their digital estate and innovate how digital is activated across their channels.