Co-op Live

An experiential website for a world-class venue

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The new Co-op Live will be one of the world’s premier music and entertainment venues, and one of the most socially responsible and sustainable venues in Europe when it opens. Being built in Manchester on the Etihad Campus, the purpose-built arena is a joint venture between Oak View Group (OVG) and City Football Group (CFG), and is backed by investment from international superstar Harry Styles. Ahead of its launch in 2023, Co-op Live appointed DEPT® to create an experiential website to digitally introduce the venue to the world.

A show-stopping web design

The Co-op Live website was designed to reflect the energy, excitement and dynamism that you experience when stepping into a live entertainment venue. We took the style guides and visual elements specified within Co-op Live’s brand guidelines to the max to create an eye-catching layout that displays content in a powerful way. 

Sharp, distinctive lines placed at a precise 30º angle, nodding to the architecture of the building, form unique geometric shapes and frame visual assets, while maintaining a cohesive grid to structure the user flow. For example, the video on the homepage is emphasised with angular lines, mirroring the corners of the arena with bold text scrolling across, instantly drawing attention in a similar way to how the physical venue’s smart ‘bowl’ design will bring fans in closer to the action. The sharp 30º angles recur throughout, visually dividing content blocks into sections, reinforcing calls to action, and creating buttons, animations, and geometric patterns. 


Built for everyone

Accessibility was of utmost priority throughout the design process and continued into development. The website had to comply with Co-op Live’s accessibility standards and align with the arena’s focus on creating a space for all to enjoy. It was important that people beginning their journey with Co-op Live were able to complete tasks on the website successfully, regardless of their access needs. Even more, our team set out to remove barriers to enhance all user experiences regardless of disabilities or situational limitations. We designed clear and consistent navigation options and paid extra attention to colour contrast, font sizes, spacing, how multimedia files are displayed, hover styles, overlapping elements, word choice, device optimisation, and more.

This first phase of the website was launched as a storytelling platform to communicate Co-op Live’s mission and values, the unique aspects of the venue, the building process, career opportunities, and teaser updates. To create hype leading up to the grand opening, we balanced creative flair with clarity, using simplistic and legible design concepts to make a statement. Our goal was to avoid information overload and incorporate alternative ways for users to digest content, so blocks of text were broken down with sufficient whitespace, displayed as lists, or incorporated into visuals and boxes.

Capturing the essence of live entertainment

Developing a scalable solution

We developed the building blocks for Co-op Live to scale its digital presence alongside the venue’s growth. The website was built using the React-based development framework Next.js to enable fast and flexible capabilities within JavaScript web applications. 

The technical team approached the architecture of the website with a JAMstack solution that combines JavaScript, reusable APIs, and prebuilt Markup to create a static website with dynamic capabilities. This strategy prioritises performance, security, and scalability by decoupling the front-end presentation layer from back-end functions, creating a solid base that can easily be augmented with additional functionality and microservices. Contentful, the cloud-native, headless CMS, was implemented as a future-ready solution for Co-op Live to manage dynamic content.

The dashboard was intuitively set up to empower the marketing team to configure new content modules and continue populating the platform with experiential, media-rich content. Push-button deployment moves content into production and will radically increase the velocity of fresh content Co-op Live can release without requiring development assistance. Within Contentful, Co-op Live will also be able to lead an omnichannel strategy across emerging technology platforms and traditional channels, such as social media, email and SMS.


An exciting journey ahead

From start to end, the entire first phase of the Co-op Live website was launched in just eight weeks. The web design was carefully crafted to embody Co-op as a brand and engage a wide audience, while the technical foundation was built to scale and drive performance. 

The headless architecture is an ideal vantage point for Co-op Live to continue building a bespoke, all-encompassing solution by combining best-of-breed platforms with specialised functionality. The future possibilities for Co-op Live to innovate across its digital platform are limitless.


Strategy Director

Lizzie Powell

Maximising data usage in European rail travel

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With a turnover of €90 million, is one of the largest online railway travel agencies in the Netherlands. sells Eurail and Interrail passes: the all-in-one train tickets that allow travellers to not only go wherever they want in Europe, but also whenever they want.

DEPT® was asked to optimise the customer journey performance for The ultimate goal? To define as the best known starting point for travellers to create a personalised and authentic European travel experience.

Two-sided challenge

Travelling through Europe is quite a considerable investment. Especially when you’re a non-European. Because these travellers have to arrange transport to Europe and accommodation for throughout the period that they are staying there. And also because of the budget they need for daily activities, food and drinks.

Transport within Europe is easy to arrange by purchasing one of the passes. But in the end, the overall journey costs a lot. For this reason, customers of show a relatively long orientation process. It could take up to two months before purchasing the passes.

It turned out that during this long orientation period, the target group of has different questions that are relevant to a specific moment in time. Therefore, the target group needs different content at these specific moments. When the targeted customer is provided with the right content at the right time, the overall customer journey will eventually optimise.

DEPT® was tasked with addressing this two-sided challenge:

  • How to be as relevant as possible at all times? (high relevance = high performance)
  • How to show the added value of all the channels in the customer journey to optimise resources accordingly?

To address it, we turned data into insights and used our very own customer journey mapping model to optimise the customer journey performance of

With this model we were better able to validate performance and actively test new hypotheses for each step in the funnel by getting insights and steering on the right KPIs matching the phase. The figure below explains and defines our model.

Different journey phases containing different behavioural data

Customers in different phases show specific behaviour in terms of consuming content and have different needs in their orientation process. Based on behavioural data, we divided the digital user experience into 7 unique phases, ranging from awareness to post-purchase. We perfectly serve the needs of each phase with matching messages in the different communication channels and with KPIs matching those phases. The primary goals of the campaigns for each different phase is to help the customer further and help them to the next step in the customer journey.

Providing inspiration is the first step towards engagement. Not with static images, but with the help of smart interactive banners and videos. After the awareness phase we serve personal content with dynamic remarketing banners to be as relevant as possible. In the attract and convince phases we use audience segmentation for both SEA and dynamic retargeting. The expected return based on behaviour is used to set bids and messaging in the ads. For post-purchase/pre-travel, social media and email marketing is used to re-engage with the customers.

With these insights we’ve been able to determine which campaigns, channels and messages perform best in helping the audience in their orientation process for each different phase. We actively tested different messages and call to actions in the different phases.

Added value

In short: the insights we obtained from our customer mapping model allowed us to optimise our SEA campaigns as follows.

First, we could personalise content based on behavioural data (both in ads and on site). Second, we could get insights in added value of channels. Which helped us in effective budget allocation per campaign, and in effective messaging in added value of upper funnel/non-branded campaigns (where volumes are high, but last click attribution to sales is low). Ultimately, we could set KPIs matching the phases.


  • Increased success rate of SEA campaigns from 14% to 22%
  • Increased conversions rate of SEA campaigns from 1.83% to 2.32%
  • Increased conversions rate of the site from 0.57% to 0.82%
  • Increased overall CTR from 13.41% to 14.99%
  • Increased success rate of more than +12%, which ultimately led to more than 5.000 pass page views in January 2018!


Director of Data, CRO & Insights

Matt Lacey

La Surfería

Learning to surf from anywhere in the world

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La Surfería is a travel and lifestyle company based in Argentina that invites travellers to experience the true surf lifestyle. The company specialises in surf trips that offer lessons from well-known professionals and accommodations in prime surf locales across Brazil and Argentina. DEPT® worked with Argentina-based startup La Surfería to design and build a mobile app that that makes learning to surf and traveling to exotic surfing destinations more accessible to all surfers regardless of location or experience level.

Project background

La Surfería wants everyone to fall in love with surfing, even if they don’t live anywhere close to the ocean. Traditionally the company has focused on creating travel experiences for surfers, but they wanted to find more ways to reach people. How could they still give the experience of learning to surf to those who can’t access it easily? Through a mobile app, of course. In 2020 travel also slowed down considerably due to the pandemic. This was even more reason to create an immersive digital experience that could bring surfing back into people’s lives even if they were stuck at home.

La Surfería came to DEPT® for help in designing and building an app that would help more people experience the amazing beaches of Argentina and Brazil, and the magic of learning to surf from some of the country’s best professionals. Like many small businesses, the company had a big vision but a fixed budget. So we needed to work together to find the best solution.

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DEPT® found a way to understand our vision and make it real while also giving us a new revenue source. They helped us transform into the first company that has a real surf app.

– Francisco Morea, Founder

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Delivering a great user experience with React Native

The DEPT® team in Argentina quickly got to work with the La Surfería team to bring this vision to life. Initially, we discussed building a website instead of an app, but based on the user experience the company was looking to provide (similar to the immersive experience of a fitness app), we decided to build a React Native app. This way we could easily deploy across Android and iOS more easily. And we could deliver a great user experience but without building a much more expensive native app experience.

We worked with the team to define a vision of a Netflix-like experience for users. where they could browse through surfing instruction videos, watch professional surfers in action, and even watch videos about what it’s like to travel to the company’s hostels and the type of food you would expect to experience while you are there. In addition to videos, the app also needed to have modules for sharing content and news about surfing, tips for training/fitness/nutrition for aspiring surfers, and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to book a future surf trip through the app.

As we began to design and build the app, we had to address how to store and deliver the videos. So we partnered with Mux to use the Mux Video API, which instantly creates the right renditions for every device and bandwidth, resulting in lower costs and better viewers experiences. We also created some features within the app that are exclusive to paid users, giving La Surfería the ability to monetize the app in the future. We integrated in-app purchasing capabilities through iOS and Android, as well as built a separate web-based flow for Argentinians to be able to pay through Mercado Pago, which is a local payment market. This allows people from all over the world to pay through their local currency.

The app was launched into the iOS and Google App Stores in early 2021 and has been well received so far. Users are enjoying the content and tutorials and signing up for subscriptions to get access to even more. Early feedback from users will lead to the next wave of new features to be added to the app in the coming months.

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Head of Marketing US

Kristin Cronin

Formula E

Building, accelerating, and reinventing racing

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A century-old sport, reinvented: silent, without CO2 emissions and circuits in the middle of the city – Formula E offers unique experiences, both offline and online. Brands such as Michelin, BMW, Heineken, and Boss have already linked their name to the increasingly popular motorsport, while the young fanbase is quickly expanding. Fans, who from now on, can get even closer to their favourite driver via the brand-new app, in which smart race data, innovative Augmented Reality solutions and a live race centre come together.

Racing, reinvented

Given that Formula E is 100% electric, this opens the door to previously unknown possibilities thanks to new technology. One such possibility allows spectators to play an active role in the race’s outcome by boosting their favourite driver’s racing car during the race through an online voting system. This so-called ‘FanBoost’ grants more horsepower by the number of fans a driver has. Now that’s innovative engagement 2.0. And it doesn’t stop there, because, in the race of the future, you are closer to your sport than ever before. The Formula E app gives you everything you need for a top-of-the-line race day experience. Check where famous artists are performing, virtually race against your favourite drivers in race simulators, follow live qualifications and get the latest news and important developments at any time throughout the day’s event.

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Augmented reality and a live race centre come together

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Tribe building

On the platform, both brands and events surrounding the day’s racing along with fan engagement meet in a single integrated experience. In this digital world of motorsport, it’s all about socials and influencers, but live interaction is an equally important part of the sport. The app supports this concept through tribe building, a means which enables visitors to slowly develop into real fans. The focus here is on personal and contextual touch points in which sponsored brands are also relevant in the moment. Think of live race reports, tracking board radios and accident updates.

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Power of data

Apart from the fact that the app enriches the fans with information along with an entertaining experience, the platform is also smart. It adapts to varying circumstances since race days are dynamic, different in every city and change yearly. Therefore, DEPT® developed a feature – linked to Google Maps – that adjusts every year. It informs people about where they are, what they can do and how they can get somewhere. Making the app always up to date and relevant. In addition, the app makes it easy for potential fans to indulge in Formula E knowledge: What exactly is so interesting? Who are the heroes? What are their rankings? And what is so different from our well-known Formula 1?

Smart data, full experience, social updates, contact with drivers and event information are seamlessly integrated; from the moment you decide to buy a ticket, up until race day, and up to the moment you return home satisfied.

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Roadmap to the future

Innovation is key, but the app’s development is merely a starting point for Formula E. As we speak, a larger, integrated platform supplemented with a website, is in the making. The development roadmap also includes the integration of Augmented Reality. Meaning further improvement of impressive experience features, such as the possibility to display both the racing cars and drivers in 3D, as well as the ability to virtually follow the race from each driver’s track position. All the while Artificial Intelligence thinks about possible outcomes of the race, which it discusses with you through the use of a conversational UI.

What’s next?

Formula E is more than a racing series. The knowledge gained on the circuit helps to make our already reliable electric cars even better, smarter and more beautiful. We are excited to be contributing to this via the developed super app, which will be extended even further with an all-encompassing website. Ultimately, we’re providing one global experience that brings all aspects of the Formula E race together. Not just for modern fans, but also for the race teams and the innovative brands connected to the motorsport – unique in today’s sports world. We are proud of this!


Client Development Director

Paul Thomas

GE Lighting

Rolling out one coherent website worldwide

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The professional division of General Electric, GE Lighting, required a standardised, global digital platform to lower costs, improve quality and reduce time to market. The fragmented infrastructure model caused duplicated effort, high costs, lack of consistency and slow response times, all of which were preventing the business from communicating effectively with their global audience. DEPT® entered the game to develop an integrated platform, combining central control with local flexibility.

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Centralised infrastructure

Switching GE Lighting from a fragmented to a centralised digital infrastructure model meant consolidating regional processes, tools and development. Our objective was to ensure that brand consistency and local needs would be met by developing a solution that would enable the easy and efficient sharing of localised content, and re-usable rich media. This all resulted in a global platform, to support fourteen consistent websites.

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Seeing the light, with a new, flexible and integrated platform

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The result

We managed the global rollout to thirteen countries, across four continents, in nine languages. By bringing disparate systems together into a single, global platform, GE Lighting has benefitted from reduced operational costs and an increase in efficiency. It can now utilise consistent, reusable global assets, templates and processes, which has the added benefit of ensuring consistency across the organisation, and aiding localisation. The project was recognised at a GE group level, with the internal team receiving an award for the project.


Client Development Director

Paul Thomas

Ascot Racecourse

An experience like nowhere else

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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.

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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.

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Unlocking the Ascot digital experience

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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.

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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.

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Capturing the glamour of the race day experience

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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 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.

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Creating a slick mobile experience

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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.


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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.


Executive Creative Director

Jake Welsh


Finding the perfect pitch with Haven’s app

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Haven owns and operates 37 family holiday parks in the UK, providing caravans, touring and camping facilities in coastal locations, filled with activities and entertainment for all ages. Haven is part of Bourne Leisure Ltd, which also owns Warner Leisure Hotels and Butlin’s. Founded over forty years ago, Bourne Leisure is now the largest, privately-owned holiday operator in the UK. Haven turned to DEPT® to build a web-based application that would enable holidaymakers to pick their perfect caravan pitch.


Pick your pitch

Haven’s goal for this project was to create an application that would improve its guests’ experience by enabling them to select a pitch of their choice. Previously, pitches were assigned upon arrival, so Haven identified this excellent opportunity and turned to DEPT®.

Choose Your Holiday Home (CYHH) is a web-based application for users who have already booked a holiday with Haven. The aim of the application is to offer the holidaymaker the chance to pick their own caravan pitch, or upgrade their current booking for an additional fee.

The application uses Google Maps API and adds layers of artwork onto the map to help display the Haven park in detail. Users can see where points of interest are such as activities, food and facilities. You can also take a look inside the caravans that are available, to help users to choose a location that suits them best. CYHH helps to ensure that Haven customers have one less thing to think about as they prepare for their trip.

DEPT® designed and built a brand-new user interface (UI) for the app. To keep things modern, DEPT® opted to use Google Maps instead of the custom maps previously used. The image carousel for the caravans has been upgraded to be more detailed and engaging.

With a large number of customers visiting the app via their mobile devices (but not necessarily converting), the focus of the latest phase of work was been on mobile acquisition; through improved usability, the number of caravan bookings via mobile is increasing, and is now the largest channel for conversion.

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Park map and photo gallery are customers’ favourite features

An ambitious development of a web-based app

The CYHH application is currently being piloted for three parks, with plans for it to be rolled out to a further 34 parks. The future roadmap includes multi-unit bookings, ability to leave reviews and ‘travel with’ functionality, which will enable groups of holidaymakers staying in multiple caravans to find eachother’s booking and pick adjacent plots. Multi-Booking ties into this too, enabling a user to pick the plots for multiple caravan bookings.

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A pitch perfect solution

By allowing guests to view a map of the parks, the users are able to find the perfect pitch for their holiday. The application uses responsive design so is available across all devices. There is evidence of this based on the mix of device based conversion rates since inception.

Additionally, DEPT® has also built a front-end system that isn’t dependent on a back end and can use any API. Not only does this make the application future-proof and easy to extend, it also helps us to maintain the product. This can lead to future enhancements such as widgets, mobile apps, reality, street view and satellite images. This will significantly increase the customer’s experience in the future.

As mentioned, Haven is now using the Google Map API which has opened up possibilities to using more functionality such as virtual reality, street view and satellite images. This can significantly increase the customer’s experience in the future!

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Google Map API enables exciting functionality

Working with a retained team

Haven works with a retained team at DEPT® who focus solely on this project, comprising Front End Developers, Business Analysts, UX Designers, Quality Assurance consultants and a Product Owner. Haven benefits from working with a team that has accrued in-depth knowledge of the project, with the ability to quickly deliver for the client. The retained team follow agile delivery principals, delivering work in two-week sprint cycles.

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Connecting with customers

The success of the CYHH application can be measured in two ways: the total money made by the application, and the number of successful bookings.

The value for the application is found within the number of bookings themselves. The +400 bookings made via the app in the first few weeks of launch demonstrates that there is a large demand for this post-booking service.

With an additional 34 parks due to go live in the future, the monetary and business value attached to the project is likely to increase dramatically.

In the six months since the project went live, the team gathered a large amount of customer feedback from HotJar polls, recordings and heatmaps. Taking the feedback on board and listening to what Haven’s customer’s want from the app has led to consistent, iterative improvements. These have seen the app’s net promoter score increase by over 30 points. With further improvements planned before launching across the additional 34 parks, it’s likely that the app will reach the highest bracket of net promoter scoring.

The team that DEPT® assembled were outstanding in both ability, energy and enthusiasm. The results have been outstanding with some of the fastest time-to-market results we have ever seen, and we now work with a combination of quick agile deliveries combined with a much longer horizon back-log,” says Neil Hobbs, IT Director, Haven. “The DEPT® team are also instrumental in our test & learn approach, helping validate the success or otherwise of the minor tweaks we make.”


Client Development Director

Paul Thomas


Exploring the Chinese advertising market with WeChat

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In recent years, the number of outbound Chinese travellers has rapidly grown. The Netherlands has become one of their most popular destinations while simultaneously acting as a gateway to other countries. These developments opened up opportunities for KLM who wanted to increase their visibility in China through brand awareness and engagement with their Chinese followers on WeChat. In collaboration with DEPT®, KLM has successfully mastered this goal.

The project

KLM aims to be where their customers are. Given that WeChat is the biggest and most widely used app in the Chinese market, that’s where the airline decided to expand its presence, increase their campaign offers and eventually build brand presence. For KLM that meant using the multi-purpose social media and messaging app to offer Chinese passengers the best digital service, brand content & innovation and commercial offers to eventually attract more followers. In order to do so, both KLM and DEPT® created a year-around campaign on WeChat.

Expanding while staying true to their caring nature

Growing visibility

KLM aims to become one of the most visible airlines amongst the numerous western airline companies present in China. Using WeChat to achieve this goal was a logical step which matched their digital strategy. At the same time, they worked on a clearer position in the industry as one of the most caring airlines as well as maintaining a close customer relationship by providing practical information and services to their existing customers as well as potential future consumers.

A caring nature

This is where DEPT® supported KLM. The digital agency started by analysing past post performances along with studying KLM’s key brand values. After comparing the analysis outcomes with current post performances, DEPT® came up with approachable yet funny content with a more social tone of voice all the while keeping KLM’s biggest selling point in mind, their ‘caring’ nature. Following the content revamp, this character was captured by WeChat follower and nicknamed: ‘Da Lan’ or ‘Big Blue’. And this exactly symbolises the further establishment and maintenance of the ‘close friends’ customer relationship KLM seeks.

Regarding organic content, DEPT® came up with topics that demonstrate KLM’s key values all the while hooking the curious Chinese readers. The next step was tailoring the structure, the writing style and word use towards the tastes of Chinese social media users. In order to achieve a higher click-through rate, a funny and strong outer-layer copy was adopted to evoke the audiences’ curiosity about the long copy.

The target audience

The audience was targeted based on two criteria. First, the ‘golden age’ audience between the ages of 20 to 45 was targeted through moment advertising. Then, the two collaborating parties filtered the audience based on their geographical area with the core cities of Beijing and Shanghai as well as the key cities of Chengdu, Hangzhou and Xiamen being the main focus areas within the Chinese market. Moreover, the locations with flight routes operated by KLM were kept in mind when targeting, in order to keep the ad relevant. Besides KLM’s original branding and sales campaigns, part of the budget was spent on pushing well-performing organic posts to attract new followers.

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Among the airline companies operating in the Chinese market, KLM now boasts some of the highest view numbers for their organic content (10K-15K per post). At the same time, their ‘caring’ key value has started to root itself in the hearts of Chinese social media users’, and has quickly become a first-order association in their mind. Besides receiving a lot of positive comments on the WeChat platform, some of the results have been quantified:

  • 4 organic posts reached 670K+ people and generated 36K views p.m.
  • Daily organic growth of 200+ new followers.
  • Every ‘moment ad’ brought 500-2000 new followers.

What’s next?

In December 2018, DEPT® conducted another round of KOL campaigns on KLM’s WeChat. With a budget of 6,4K, the agency worked with 4 KOL’s in total and observed positive results, in terms of reach(410K), view number(63K), view-rate(15,78%), user engagement(741 likes, 148 comments and 145 user photos), follower conversion as well as cost-effectiveness.

Besides continuing with current content planning of organic posts and moment advertising, DEPT® is also running a long-term KOL campaign to increase brand awareness and contribute to the follower growth and brand presence on WeChat.


Strategy Director

Lizzie Powell


Falling In love with Switzerland digitally

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From the Matterhorn to St Peter’s Island to the Viamala Gorge, Switzerland offers thousands upon thousands of incredible destinations to experience. Perhaps the one thing Switzerland Tourism was missing, in a country with so much to offer, was a central, singular place to compile all of these experiences. That’s why the country’s national tourism marketing organisation partnered with DEPT®. Together, we created a unique platform to encourage more people to visit Switzerland and to provide that central source of information. The result takes you on a journey through the breathtaking beauties of Switzerland and enables you to find all relevant booking information right at your fingertips.

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Immerse yourself in Switzerland is the backbone of communication between Switzerland Tourism and tourists around the world. The new platform that we built together presents over 45,000 travel destinations, routes, events, sights, experiences and accommodations in 16 different languages. All shown in detail, located on a map and directly linked to all relevant partner platforms for bookings.

Taking you on a digital journey through the breathtaking beauties of Switzerland

Creating guiding Principles to lead our design process

We didn’t just want to link to ticket windows with this new design. The aim of the new platform was to demonstrate the breathtaking and diverse world of Switzerland via inspiring stories, travel routes, holiday destinations and events. We wanted to translate the exciting and memorable experience one has when visiting Switzerland to a digital experience accessible to all, anytime and anywhere. Based on this vision, our local team established guiding principles for our visual concept:

Guaranteed modularity

Using a sophisticated grid system and the principles of atomic design, we create various content modules that had a similar structure bit that varied in placement, thus enabling adaptive rendering.

Less is better

To ensure a smooth and simple browsing process, we limited content to one column to make it easy on the eye and facilitate scanning of a page. The top-level navigation was also reduced and introductory texts were kept short which guide a user towards a more detailed page

Maximum inspiration

Users can browse through multi-layered content and thus find inspiration for their trip across the entire website. For example, via the homepage, one can access the Inspiration Calendar which provides inspiration and access to numerous topics. The “Destination Pages” and storytelling pages illustrate a digital experience of various regions.

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Establishing a design baseline

We started off by creating a grid system based on the brand’s logo to ensure brand representation and uniformity while also giving us a baseline to work with when creating new layouts. Based on the existing logo and our vision of the website, we built up a library of core colours, fonts and symbols which created a foundation upon which all components could be built. These design principles served as rules when creating new layouts.

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Ensuring a solid information infrastructure

The core of any solid web portal is based on a thought-out information architecture. So when coming up with the navigation concept, we adopted a hierarchical approach to the organisation of the website and fine-tuned our ideas using tree testing, a technique for evaluating the findability of topics with users.

However, we didn’t only rely on the tree test, using multiple additional user tests we ensured that the navigation was optimal by comparing different design approaches. We also conducted visual checks, via workshops and user tests, of the various navigation concepts we had created. This ensured that no one clicked away due to a poor navigation experience and that the platform had a strong information architecture.

Harnessing AI to deliver the best experience across all devices

Even though we ensured a smooth navigation process for the user, the website is content heavy. So after tagging and connecting each image to certain topics or pages, we leveraged the power of artificial intelligence and implemented an algorithm that automatically prepares over 80,000 images stored in the system in the correct formats for all output devices and connection speeds. This ensures that the right images that are tagged and matched to the content that is displayed in addition to a quicker page loading time.

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Pure inspiration during all times of the year

To showcase that there were numerous activities and areas to explore no matter the time of year, we created an interactive and inspirational calendar. Using 48 drone videos each lasting 15 seconds, users can browse through each month of the year or choose a region on a map and see destinations in addition to facts about each place. Users can float over gorges and city-scapes and immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of each place.

Incorporating a top-class virtual reality experience

These drone videos are featured on the homepage and are meant to entice and inspire users. However, we wanted to take it up a notch, so we transformed the footage into a virtual reality experience when browsing the website with VR glasses.

To convert flat footage into a 360-degree all-around experience, that enables the users to look around and explore the landscape, we created custom 3D geometries upon which we mapped the video. To avoid distortion, we implemented a basic spherical geometry which we gradually built upon and manually adjusted until we found a grid that met our requirements and allowed an aspect ratio of 16:9. Additionally, the position of the camera also played a decisive role. So depending on the distance of an object to the video, we adjusted the amount of overlaying information. Lastly, to ensure we captured the sweet spots, we constantly carried out tests with VR headsets during the entire process.

Immerse yourself in Switzerland

The new web portal of Switzerland Tourism sets new industry standards. Behind the spectacular presentation of unique destinations and the intuitive user journey lies a wide array of conceptual and technological innovations. From a strong information architecture to VR elements, the new site creates a world of experience for you to immerse yourself in. You can also find all the information needed for planning your next trip: from train and flight booking to the weather current current currency exchange – all the information you need is at your fingertips.


Rotterdam Festivals

Transforming the Eurovision village into a 3D virtual world

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The Eurovision Song Contest is the world’s longest-running, international music competition. Since its inaugural event in 1956, 52 countries have participated at least once, creating a fan base that stretches across the globe. Today, over 180 million people tune in to watch the televised competition, with over 20,000 attendees travelling to the host country to enjoy the contest in person.

Usually, The Eurovision Village sits at the heart of the physical experience of the contest; it’s a place where fans can meet up to enjoy the music, socialise and embrace the positive vibes. With the pandemic preventing mass gatherings, for the 2021 contest, Rotterdam Festivals reached out to entertainment agency Tribe Company and DEPT® to recreate the physical atmosphere of The Eurovision Village in a virtual world. The result? A groundbreaking virtual experience; the first of its kind in the Eurovision Song Contest history.

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Imagining an electric experience

“If the world can’t come to Rotterdam, we’ll bring Rotterdam to the world”. Early in the creative process, we sought out ways to showcase the spectacle of the stage performances, while conveying the energetic buzz of Rotterdam. Touring the host city is such an important part of attending an international event, and we didn’t want the tens of thousands of people that would normally make the trip to miss out on this experience. Plus, the opportunity to open Rotterdam up to the world to explore was an exciting challenge.

We wanted to evoke the same feeling in the fans as a physical visit; a simple platform filled with live streams wouldn’t suffice. Our creative inspiration led us to design a 3D world, where visitors are invited into a new surrounding to immerse themselves in the magic of the Eurovision Song Contest.

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Taking things to the next level

Designing a 3D world

How the vision is powered by technology

Managing the live environment

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A stable solution for scale

The Eurovision Song Contest is the world’s largest non-sporting TV event. This year’s Village programme was predicted to grab even more attention with crowd-pullers including Duncan Laurence, Johnny Logan, Afrojack, and the Junior Song Festival, running alongside the City Programme that offered more than 50 fringe events. 

Data from the last competition showed younger audiences are watching the Eurovision Song Contest in greater numbers, and viewership on YouTube during the week of the festival is also on the rise. This evolving viewing behaviour, as well as the depth of the new virtual experience, means more people were likely to watch online and, therefore, the platform had to be stable enough to host a rush of global traffic.

Performance, usability and accessibility were essential in the design and carried through into development. The platform is hosted in 12 different regions around the world on Microsoft Azure App Service Plans, and supported by a cloud-based fallback infrastructure, ensuring high traffic accessing the platform is optimally distributed and not dependent on the same type of resources. 
The Eurovision Song Contest is acclaimed for being an inclusive event. The theme ‘Open Up’ was selected for this iteration with the warm message of inviting people to open up to others, to different opinions, each other’s stories and of course to each other’s music. Eurovision’s use of technology had to be an extension of these values and not inadvertently exclude anyone. 

“If the world can’t come to Rotterdam, we’ll bring Rotterdam to the world.”

Applauding our collaborative approach

The Eurovision Song Contest, its lively village and iconic surroundings were open 24/7, free of charge during the nine-day duration of the festival. The strong collaboration between Rotterdam Festivals, DEPT® and Tribe Company was the key ingredient that led to us delivering this ambitious project at a rapid pace. 

Nobody knows exactly what the world will look like in a few months, but it is very plausible that virtual solutions will occupy a permanent place. The 3D virtual village we created for the Eurovision Song Contest demonstrates how a digital world can maintain the offline feeling, truly connecting people, while providing global access for everyone. This project is proof that with the right efforts, even the most legendary events can be turned into a digital success.


Executive Creative Director

Max Pinas

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