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Royal Opera House

Royal Opera House: Delivering a ground-breaking learning platform

The challenge

Shape and deliver a ground-breaking learning platform to enable more young people to enjoy opera and ballet.

Broadening engagement with the creative arts, particularly among young people, is a strategic goal for the Royal Opera House as it will cultivate new interest in opera and ballet.

To help teachers around the world incorporate opera and ballet into their lessons, the Royal Opera House wanted a pioneering new digital learning platform to replace its existing site. No other arts organisations had learning platforms that matched the Royal Opera House’s vision, and there were no suitable off-the-shelf products available. It, therefore, selected Softwire to design and deliver something truly pioneering.

With a deadline to meet and lots of stakeholders involved, we needed to quickly distil diverse business requirements into a viable technical solution.

Our solution

 A detailed discovery phase enabled us to understand the Royal Opera House’s requirements and shape the technical solution, which we then delivered in just two months.

We ran workshops with the Royal Opera House CTO, department heads, product manager and other stakeholders. This helped us understand exactly what the organisation wanted from the platform. We translated these business-level requirements into a technical solution we could deliver in the timeframe.

With the scope agreed, we started the development process, using feedback from stakeholders to refine the platform as we moved towards launch.

The new learning platform is built on WordPress, with a custom theme to fit with the Royal Opera House’s branding. The platform enables the organisation to create small units of content that teachers can use individually or join together in different ways. This makes the content as flexible as possible.

The result

New learning platform receives outstanding user feedback and sees a 25% increase in new users, large numbers of return visits and twice as long spent on the site, compared to its predecessor.

We delivered and launched the new platform on-schedule, to coincide with the start of a major Royal Opera House education programme. In the first three months since the launch, user numbers grew steadily. Compared to the old platform during the same period the previous year, new users increased by 25%, with more than half returning at a later date. Dwell times doubled, and users visited an average of three pages per session.

Missy Mills, who led the project for the Royal Opera House, adds: “User feedback has been very positive. Our aim is to lead the way and change how people interact with the arts, and we’re really encouraged by the early results of what we’ve created with Softwire.”

The initial launch is part of a larger vision for the learning platform. With phase one complete and a period of user testing to follow, the Royal Opera House team is looking to continue into phase two, with a focus on personalisation.

Mills concludes: “I spent a lot of time with Softwire and really felt they understood our vision. They did a great job of internal stakeholder management – when you’re dealing with a big international brand, you have to take into account a lot of opinions. Softwire were really good at translating technical language for different stakeholders, and then turning our vision and creative ambition into a workable technology solution.”

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Royal Opera House

WordPress (with a custom theme), PHP, JavaScript, SASS, HTML, Amazon Web Services

The project
Help shape and deliver a pioneering learning platform to enable new audiences to enjoy opera and ballet.

The results
Excellent user feedback and a sharp rise in user numbers and return visits, mean the Royal Opera House is leading the way in its field.