RZSS Edinburgh Zoo

A Refreshed User Experience for World Renowned Edinburgh Zoo

The Client

Edinburgh Zoo is renowned worldwide as a leading force in conservation and research. With over 800,000 visitors a year, the zoo has firmly cemented itself as one of the UK's must-see attractions. Visitors flock to catch a glimpse of some 1000 rare and endangered animals that call the zoo home, including Tian Tian and Yang Guang, the UK’s only giant pandas.

The Brief

As part of our ongoing relationship with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, we were drafted in to review and improve the sites mobile user experience and give their digital visual identity a fresh lick of paint. Since our previous work with the zoo, they have seen a significant increase in mobile engagement but felt that the mobile user experience could be developed further. Aesthetically, the site as it stood appeared too corporate and didn’t reflect the excitement or feeling of discovery that should accompany a visit to the zoo.

A richer, more playful experience meets users visiting the new Zoo site

Our Solution

After several discovery sessions with the zoo’s team, we decided that the mobile experience would be designed as an interactive tool. Just as useful to visitors at the zoo as it is to people planning their trip.

We analysed key user objectives and made sure these were instantly available on mobile. The user's thumb need not even stretch.

By implementing the information hierarchy for different user groups, we could prioritise elements that might be more useful to on-the-go mobile users than their desktop counterparts. For example, on mobile, practical information such as opening times, daily talks and the park map were given pride of place to ease usability. Mobile users are likely to be using the mobile site immediately before or during their trip to the zoo. In contrast, the desktop experience is much more focused on leading the user through the story of the zoo and its inhabitants.

All the practicality on mobile doesn’t mean sacrificing fun though, far from it, mobile retains all the playfulness of its desktop counterpart making it engaging and enjoyable to navigate.

Edinburgh Zoo Mobile Screens

Turning Visitors into Conservationists

A significant part of our brief was to create a user journey that would continue long after visiting the zoo itself. The zoo’s live webcams have been given pride of place so that you can keep an eye on your favourite animals at home. We’ve also drawn attention to the zoo’s conservation and animal adoption programs at critical points in the user journeys to encourage visitors to the site to engage with more than just buying tickets (not that we’ve ignored that!).

Edinburgh Zoo Webcam

User Interface Design

With the site now restructured for a smoother user journey and primed for conversion against the zoo’s key business objectives, the next step was to integrate some fun and excitement to better engage user before and after their visit to the park itself.

Through mood boards of visual references, we developed a more playful digital visual identity to better reflect the fun and excitement of a visit to the zoo.

We also developed habitat 'sub-brands' so that animal-specific pages could be themed for a more immersive experience with maps, textures and conservation information themed to their biosphere.

Animal pages have been brought to life with visual embellishments referencing their natural habitat

In the wild

Our work for Edinburgh Zoo received the Wee Nod for Best Digital Design at the Nods, 2019 Scottish Creative Awards.

  • The bounce rate was reduced by 35% 
  • Time on the mobile site up 42% 
  • Ticket sales via mobiles up 24%

The team took the time to understand not just the project but our wider organization, and regularly provided suggestions and improvements above and beyond the original brief. Radiator has been a pleasure to work with throughout.

Jon-Paul Orsi , RZSS Digital Manager

What's Next?

The next step in our journey with the RZSS is to head north and apply the same approach to Highland Wildlife Park, home to the UK's first polar bear cub in 25 years.

Key Skills

  • User Centered Design
  • UX/UI
  • Front-end Development
  • Umbraco CMS Development
  • Project Strategy