Igniting Growth: Establishing a New Digital Presence for The Fire Station
Success stories
May 20, 2024

Igniting Growth: Establishing a New Digital Presence for The Fire Station

Discover how Sunderland's Fire Station transitioned from its parent organisation, Sunderland Culture, to establish its digital presence on a brand new website. Through Peppered's seamless integration and innovative design, the venue gained efficiency in event management while maintaining its brand identity and expanding its online visibility.
Matt Yau

Key takeaways

  • Distinct Digital Identity: Discover how The Fire Station separated its online presence from its parent organisation, Sunderland Culture, to create a unique and engaging digital identity.
  • Seamless Spektrix Integration: Learn how the integration with Spektrix, combined with Peppered’s automatic event importer, streamlined event management and automated tasks, enhancing efficiency for The Fire Station team.
  • Dynamic and Mobile-Ready Design: Explore how the new website's flexible and customisable building blocks, vibrant visuals, and responsive design create a captivating user experience across all devices.
  • Future-Proof Technology: Understand how Peppered’s regular updates ensure the website remains secure, accessible, and optimised with the latest features, reducing the need for constant manual interventions.
  • Enhanced User Engagement: See how the transformation led to increased online engagement and ticket sales, offering patrons a more intuitive and enjoyable browsing experience, boosting satisfaction and loyalty.

Introducing The Fire Station

Nestled in the North East of the UK, The Fire Station serves as a beacon of creativity and cultural enrichment. However, its digital presence was firmly tied to its parent organisation, Sunderland Culture, and it needed to forge its own identity with a new website that integrated with Spektrix.

The Fire Station is a live music and performance venue that stands as a cultural hub within the community in Sunderland. Housed in a historic fire station building, this state-of-the-art venue offers a diverse range of events, including live music, theatre performances, comedy shows, and more. With its rich history, dynamic programming, and commitment to artistic excellence, The Fire Station is a beloved destination for entertainment and cultural experiences.

The Fire Station on tablet and mobile

Challenges facing The Fire Station

The old website, closely linked to Sunderland Culture, caused confusion for visitors and made it difficult for them to find information about performances at The Fire Station. With this understanding, the venue wanted to forge its own path ahead and separate its digital presence from its parent organisation. 

Besides the technical logistics of creating a new and distinctive cultural website, they also have a robust event calendar that requires an efficient solution for content management. With a growing need for mobile responsiveness and streamlined content management, the venue required a website solution that could manage its digital needs while also handling commercial demands such as the essential integration with its ticketing system, Spektrix. This integration needs to work with an automatic event importer so the team at The Fire Station can efficiently publish events to their new website.

Lastly, a new website must leave a bold and exciting impression on visitors while remaining true to the existing brand guidelines. 

During a series of discovery sessions held with The Fire Station team, we set these goals for the project:

  • Build a new website using the Peppered platform that integrates with Spektrix and helps the venue elevate its digital presence.
  • Establish a new digital identity with a website that aligns with the venue's existing brand guidelines.
  • Ensure the website is fully responsive and mobile-ready.
  • Provide flexible and easy-to-use page templates that enables the team at The Fire Station to efficiently promote the venue’s many events in an engaging format.
  • Set up an automatic event importer so the marketing team at The Fire Station can efficiently publish events from Spektrix to the website.

How did The Fire Station’s new website meet these requirements?

Peppered websites are built with features that have been suggested by venues over the years. As a result, the core skeleton of Peppered websites is ready-made for venues and allowed the After Digital team to build a new site for The Fire Station quickly. This is then augmented with Peppered’s diverse and established ‘parts’ library.

Another essential part of Peppered websites is out-of-the-box integration with ticketing systems. For The Fire Station, integration with Spektrix is a fundamental requirement. Not only does it allow their Peppered website to seamlessly flow into their purchase path, but it means their data in Spektrix can be used to automate a wide range of processes and make website management easier for The Fire Station team.

The Fire Station website on mobile

Furthermore, Peppered's flexible building blocks allow The Fire Station to curate dynamic layouts and highlight its vibrant offerings effectively. Coupled with synced data from Spektrix, the marketing team at The Fire Station can utilise automation tools to streamline processes and reduce manual workflows. 

Coupled with Peppered’s event importer, the team were able to quickly and accurately publish all upcoming events from Spektrix into easy-to-use event templates on their new website. All of these new pages and layouts are fully responsive and mobile-ready enabling them to be rendered accurately on any device or screen size.

To ensure The Fire Station’s new website is future-proofed, Peppered is updated every three weeks. This helps maintain a high level of online security, delivers the latest SEO best practices and upholds the latest accessibility guidelines. Furthermore, The Fire Station, and the rest of the Peppered community, can make feature requests for the development roadmap. That’s why Peppered is packed with features specifically designed for arts and culture venues.

The Fire Station website

So that’s the technical setup. But with a new website that’s separate from their parent organisation, the After Digital team needed to create a fresh and exciting digital design to engage new visitors. The site's aesthetic is punctuated by vibrant, yellow call-to-actions, strategically highlighting key information and enticing visitors to explore further. Additionally, dynamic genre tags serve as signposts, effectively showcasing the diverse array of events available. A wide range of rich media, including galleries, video and flexible grids allow The Fire Station to add depth and dynamism to their productions and show off the unique aspects of their venue.

The result?

With the new website powered by Peppered, The Fire Station experienced a surge in online engagement and ticket sales. Enhanced mobile responsiveness and intuitive navigation resulted in a more positive user experience, driving patron satisfaction and loyalty. 

Rhys McKinnell, CEO of Pub Culture, the parent group behind The Fire Station, said this about the new website:

"We’re absolutely thrilled with the transformation of our website, thanks to the fantastic work by After Digital 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. Our patrons love the responsive, user-friendly experience on all devices. This collaboration has been a key part of taking the business forward, and we’re looking forward to growing even more with our new digital platform and the future of partnership with Culture Suite."

Through collaboration with After Digital and harnessing the power of Peppered, The Fire Station's digital transformation journey has not only revitalised its online presence but also reaffirmed its position as a cultural hub at the forefront of innovation.

The new website is not only a visual representation of The Fire Station and of the many productions it hosts. It’s a powerful marketing tool, enabling the team to work more efficiently and proactively while reducing the need for more manual processes when it comes to website management. With these new capabilities, the venue is poised for continued growth and success.

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)