The Barbican Centre, Europe’s largest multi-arts and conference venue, approached Unthinkable in summer 2011, seeking a long-term digital strategy for the organisation and a document they could use as the basis to brief for a redesign of their site. We consulted widely with the organisation and delivered a number of creative workshop to help them identify critical user needs, but also their own distinctive digital strengths. Having worked on a number of digital strategies that centre on fixing websites that are broken or have grown out of control, it was refreshing to us to work with a client whose house (in our opinion) was not burning down.

We worked closely with the digital and marketing teams at The Barbican to develop a holistic view of how the centre should change and develop to make the most of digital media. Our strategy therefore encompassed all aspects of the Barbican’s engagement with digital, from archive capture and content management through innovation across platforms to a consideration of site structure and their own staff resources and digital capacity. Our aim was to make the process as well as the output enjoyable and practical, and leave the organisation feeling inspired, independent and confident that enough of a vision was in place that they could make effective choices of their digital development over the long term.

For this project, we also enlisted the help of Leigh Dodds as a data specialist. We worked with him to create a structured arts ontology to help organise the centre’s assets and activity to underpin their digital development and content creation processes.