Co-op Live

An experiential website for a world-class venue

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.


Managing Director, Design & Technology UK

Lizzie Powell

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