Go to content
Since 1846 Cambridge University Botanic Garden has been a focus and stimulus for science in the university attracting thousands of visitors and researchers each year. Set in 40 acres of beautiful gardens and glasshouses there is something for everyone

The project

We partnered with Cambridge University Botanic Garden (CUBG), one of the most visited attractions in the city, to help revitalise their online presence. We created a website that reflects the ever-changing garden, promotes its vital scientific work, and improves engagement through visitor numbers, memberships and programme participation.

The initial objectives outlined:

  • Convey content to the right audiences without alienating others 
  • Reflect the changing nature of the garden
  • Search and incorporate plant data from a database of over 2 million species
  • Improve on a creaking CMS and create admin privileges  
  • Overhaul an outdated site structure and improve user journeys
  • Increase garden membership, programme bookings, and promote the events programme

Planning

Laying down the roots

To help us really understand CUBG, our team spent time getting to know the garden, its history, and its attractions. We observed how people interact with its many spaces and offerings.

We conducted a workshop with stakeholders to explore their business goals and identify the many user groups with their individual needs.

To achieve a positive engagement for all parties, we mapped content and responses to each of the user needs resulting in a focussed and much-improved set of user journeys and site structure.

The outcomes

This part of this process becomes our ‘reason for doing’ reference. Every following choice or decision we make in the project can be pulled back to this phase – the user objectives and business goals. An approach that keeps the project focussed.

Defined key areas of focus:

WordPress, user experience (UX), design & build, SEO

We now have a site that can really convey the beauty and work of the gardens.

Anna Patterson-Lee, Head of Development and Communications, Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Can a website reflect nature?

The Botanic Garden is a living, ever-changing entity. It was important that the website reflects the ebb and flow of seasonal changes.

How we reflected the seasons

We created a colour palette that changes automatically with each season to compliment the colour palette of the garden and its collection. Combined with photography that is regularly refreshed, we’ve created a harmonious relationship between the garden and the website.

Daily plant highlights

Each day the head of horticulture curates a list of the days’ must-see plants which is published on the website and around the garden. Website users can view the plants and their locations, allowing them to plan their visits.

Botanical history

We also worked closely with the team in the Cory Library to hand-select botanical drawings from their extensive collection which we photographed and animated within the background of the site. A respectful nod to the tradition and history of the gardens.

Some projects make you smile. This is one of them.

Ian Axton
Ian Axton, Studio 24

More than just a garden

The team at CUBG are an innovative bunch and the garden has a lot more to offer than you may expect.

With a busy programme, the garden acts as an outdoor classroom for all ages with programmes for schools, colleges, community groups, families, and adults.

You can download the latest garden podcast. Take a leisurely walking tour or book a creative course. If that doesn’t take your fancy just sit in the hothouse and watch the world go by.  

Clear the path to content

With so much to offer, a clearer content structure was introduced enabling users to find areas of interest, whilst folding in recommendations about things they may not have considered. Clear entry into new events and courses listing with filtering that makes sense to the audience.

The results

270,000

Website users in 2020

133,000

Page views on 20th Feb 2021 as a rare cactus (the Moonflower) flowers for the first time in the UK.

31,000

Page views for the virtual Wellness Wanders during lockdown.