From Breakdown to Breakthrough: Donmar Warehouse’s Digital Transformation
Success stories
June 18, 2024

From Breakdown to Breakthrough: Donmar Warehouse’s Digital Transformation

Discover how Donmar Warehouse overcame digital challenges with Peppered CMS, reducing maintenance costs, and enhancing functionality. Learn about their journey to a sustainable, future-proof website that perfectly integrates with essential tools like Spektrix, CrowdEngage, and Dotdigital.
Matt Yau

Key Takeaways

  • Transformative Digital Upgrade: Learn how Donmar Warehouse overcame frequent website breakdowns and maintenance challenges by migrating to Peppered CMS, ensuring a stable and reliable digital presence.
  • Cost-Effective Solution: Discover how switching to Peppered CMS reduced maintenance costs and operational headaches for Donmar Warehouse, freeing up resources for more critical activities.
  • Seamless Integrations: Understand the benefits of seamless integration with Spektrix, CrowdEngage, and Dotdigital, enabling Donmar’s marketing team to streamline operations and enhance audience engagement.
  • Future-Proof Technology: Explore how Peppered's regular updates and performance boosts ensure that Donmar’s website remains current and fully functional, eliminating the need for frequent rebuilds.
  • Enhanced Digital Marketing: See how Peppered’s flexible building blocks and new tools empower Donmar’s team to manage their website efficiently, strategise effectively, and optimise audience engagement without agency dependence.

From breakdown to breakthrough

The cost of maintaining an outdated website can be substantial. It puts a massive strain on digital marketing teams if certain tasks take too long to complete, which will only take time away from more valuable work such as strategy or optimisations. But it can also lead to a website that doesn’t perfectly reflect your branding, harm customer experiences or even prevent people from purchasing tickets.

Seven years after their last website build by After Digital (who are now a part of CultureSuite) the team at the Donmar Warehouse know first hand the challenges that maintaining a custom site can bring – changes in ticketing system requiring new integrations, additional functionality delivered by multiple developers working on custom code and multiple personnel managing the site over the years. This was further complicated by inconsistent and unpredictable funding in the arts.

Many cultural organisations have come to us with these problems. They’re symptomatic of the traditional way of funding and building websites. This is why we and After Digital moved away from building bespoke websites – it's unsustainable for venues, and it was unsustainable for us as the supplier. Instead, Peppered CMS is the foundation of all our websites because it offers longevity and sustainability while meeting the unique demands of ticketed venues. Let's find out how.

Introducing Donmar Warehouse

Located in the heart of London, The Donmar Warehouse, is a prestigious and iconic producing house renowned for its intimate setting and high-quality productions. For over 30 years, the theatre has garnered a stellar reputation for staging groundbreaking plays and musicals, often attracting world-class talent and earning numerous accolades. Its commitment to innovative and thought-provoking performances has made the Donmar Warehouse a beloved and influential institution in the global theatre community.

Donmar Warehouse exterior

What challenges were Donmar Warehouse grappling with?

Donmar Warehouse’s old website was plagued by frequent technical issues and an outdated codebase, necessitating continuous maintenance and repairs. This puts a strain on the budgets and resources. As an arts organisation that had recently lost its NPO funding, Donmar Warehouse faced the dual challenge of needing a cost-effective solution without compromising on functionality. 

Their website also needed to integrate seamlessly with Spektrix, CrowdEngage, and Dotdigital, streamlining operations for Donmar's marketing team. This integration allows for automatic syncing of ticketing and event data directly into their new website.

After speaking to key stakeholders, we determined the goals of this project:

  • Stabilise web performance: Ensure the new website is stable and reliable, eliminating the frequent breakdowns experienced with the old site.
  • Reduce maintenance burden: Minimise the need and cost for ongoing maintenance and repairs, freeing up resources for other critical activities.
  • Seamlessly integrate the new website with Spektrix, CrowdEngage and Dotdigital.
  • Make the website fully responsive and mobile-ready.
  • Give the Donmar Warehouse team more control and flexibility when it comes to editing pages, layouts and content.

How does Peppered CMS tackle these challenges? 

All of the challenges that Donmar Warehouse faced are solved by the implementation of Peppered CMS as the underlying technology for their website. This provided them with a dynamic new website that stays ahead of the curve. With Peppered, their site enjoys new features, accessibility and security boosts, and performance upgrades every three weeks, ensuring their website never becomes outdated.

This provides Donmar with a stable platform to thrive sustainably long-term. They no longer have to worry about their website becoming old and cumbersome to work with, but they will also receive upgrades which keep them at the forefront of website technologies.

Screenshots of Donmar Warehouse's website on mobile

The migration to Peppered also gave Donmar a wide range of new tools and functionality to boost digital marketing initiatives while making website management more efficient. This included an out-of-the-box integration with Spektrix, where data from the renowned ticketing and event management platform was automatically pulled into Peppered to streamline the process of publishing event information to the new website. Not only did this speed up the migration process, but it meant all future events could be published more quickly and more accurately. 

Peppered also boasts a wide range of flexible building blocks that are fully customisable. We helped set up a variety of templates to get the team up and running, but they can build on those initial templates and easily edit them to fit their needs. This gives the team at Donmar the autonomy to manage their website more efficiently, strategise more effectively and optimise audience engagement without needing to go through an agency.

The result?

With Peppered as the underlying technology, Donmar Warehouse’s website is now stable and reliable, free from the frequent breakdowns that plagued the old site. Not only does this alleviate any operational headaches for the team, but it also reduces the need to spend money on essential fixes and upgrades.

This future-proof solution means they won’t need a complete rebuild every few years. Regular updates ensure that the site remains current and fully functional, eliminating the need for extensive overhauls.

The Peppered platform also offers far greater functionality, ensuring that Donmar Warehouse can continue to engage and serve its audience effectively. Along with the new segmentation tools in Peppered, ticket sales can now be better optimised.

Ben Clare, Head of Marketing at Donmar Warehouse, said this about the new website:

"We're very pleased with the Peppered platform, our old website was over 5 years old and was very much showing its age. We're excited to move to a platform which means we won't encounter those previous challenges again in the future."

The collaboration with Donmar Warehouse exemplifies our commitment to supporting arts and culture organisations through innovative and cost-effective digital solutions. By providing a stable, functional, and future-proof website, we have empowered Donmar Warehouse to focus on its mission of bringing outstanding arts experiences to the public, without the distraction of technical issues or financial strain. 

This underscores the transformative potential of the Peppered platform and our dedication to providing more sustainable digital solutions so that the arts and culture sector can thrive in the face of economic challenges.

Next steps

No matter what stage you're at in your search for the perfect web platform or digital marketing tool for your venue, we'll help you get the information you need to make the right decision.

  1. Join our community of venues and get insider insights.
    Learn how to get the most out of Peppered, gain insights from other venues, and add new features to the Peppered development roadmap. Sign up to CultureHub.
  2. Want to see how Peppered works?
    We’re proud of how easy we make it for venues to manage their website. That’s why live event venues around the world trust Peppered. Book a personalised demo.
  3. Looking to partner with us?
    If you’re a technology provider, design agency or supplier for the arts and culture sector, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us here.
  4. Want to learn more about digital tools for venues?
    Explore our industry insights and expert advice by heading over to our resources page, YouTube channel or subscribing to our newsletter.

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“We’re absolutely thrilled with the transformation of our website, thanks to the fantastic work by CultureSuite and the power of Peppered! We've now got a distinct digital identity, that captures the vibrant spirit of our business. The seamless integration with Spektrix has simplified our event management, automating many tasks that used to be manual.”

Rhys McKinnell
CEO, Pub Culture (The Fire Station)