Making a complex website work for multiple audiences

PGL Mak­ing a com­plex web­site work for mul­ti­ple audiences

A market-leading activity holiday provider came to us with an extremely complex multi-lingual website. They needed to make it more functional, compatible and accessible on all platforms, whilst protecting the interests of multiple users and audience types. We developed a bespoke framework and streamlined processes that resulted in lower bounce rates, longer sessions and increased bookings.


PGL is a mar­ket-lead­ing provider of activ­i­ty cours­es and hol­i­days for schools, youth groups, fam­i­ly hol­i­days and sum­mer camps for unac­com­pa­nied children. 

The exist­ing web­site was already suc­cess­ful and gen­er­at­ing large vol­umes of traf­fic, but com­peti­tors were nib­bling at their mar­ket share and, cre­ative­ly, it lacked dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion. We had to get to grips with the com­plex­i­ty of the company’s prod­uct offer­ing and audi­ence types (par­ents, schools, scout groups, over­seas, and even job seekers). 

We spent a num­ber of days with cus­tomer-fac­ing mem­bers of the PGL team, to gain their per­spec­tive on day-to-day issues and an under­stand­ing of the cus­tomer jour­ney. We then con­duct­ed tele­phone inter­views with exist­ing cus­tomers and competitor’s cus­tomers to iden­ti­fy cur­rent and chang­ing needs with­in the market. 


The two-stage research meant we had a robust under­stand­ing of the needs and wants of the key seg­ments at each stage of the cus­tomer jour­ney (which can be up to 18 months’ dura­tion). We could also be con­fi­dent of the site struc­ture at an ear­ly stage, sav­ing costs on any lat­er revi­sions that may arise as a result of usabil­i­ty testing. 

With 50% of web­site vis­i­tors com­ing through mobile devices, it was essen­tial that the sin­gle site appli­ca­tion was ful­ly respon­sive. Anoth­er key require­ment was to cater for five sep­a­rate mar­ket­ing organ­i­sa­tions in the busi­ness, all with their own very spe­cif­ic wants and needs. 

Informed by our in-depth under­stand­ing of the dif­fer­ent audi­ence demo­graph­ics and each division’s unique approach to mar­ket, the UX design team test­ed dif­fer­ent lay­out con­fig­u­ra­tions, tak­ing into account cus­tomer jour­ney and site archi­tec­ture, before arriv­ing at a suc­cess­ful solution. 


It quick­ly became appar­ent that with almost 5,000 pages and 40,000 con­tent items to man­age, we couldn’t build a site of this mag­ni­tude page by page. That inspired the cre­ation of a frame­work – a bespoke grid sys­tem built in CSS that allowed us greater flex­i­bil­i­ty over design.

Build­ing a them­ing lay­er into the cor­po­rate site also allowed us to quick­ly and eas­i­ly make amends and repli­cate pages. This not only saved us time dur­ing the build; it remains a sys­tem that can be used to update the site as it grows and develops. 

We catered for the dif­fer­ent audi­ence demo­graph­ics by intro­duc­ing dynam­ic them­ing and bespoke detailed Con­tent Man­age­ment, but using com­mon and high­ly intel­li­gent cus­tom mod­ules that can be used by all the inter­nal mar­ket­ing teams. 

Under the cov­ers, key data is mined and mixed in from their exten­sive back office sys­tems to ensure con­ti­nu­ity with book­ings, avail­abil­i­ty and eli­gi­bil­i­ty for hol­i­days, as well as a jobs’ board, all in a live envi­ron­ment using very secure web services.

Full Hol­i­day Search, Book­ing, Pay­ment Facil­i­ties and User Man­age­ment Sys­tems were devel­oped specif­i­cal­ly to cater for cus­tomers’ unique require­ments using the lat­est Dot​.Net C# tech­nolo­gies, in a secure envi­ron­ment that pro­tects children’s data and per­son­al details online.

The site is cur­rent­ly live in Eng­lish, but also sup­ports Span­ish and French lan­guages with a view to adding fur­ther vari­a­tions as the busi­ness grows. 

The response from stake­hold­ers and PGL’s net­work of cen­tres has been extreme­ly pos­i­tive and has enabled us as a team to build big­ger, more com­plex sites in a short­er time. 

Over­all, cus­tomers are stay­ing on the new site for 20% longer; mobile ses­sions are up 44% and bounce rate is down by 13%. Specif­i­cal­ly, book­ings have increased for school groups; 30% of all adven­ture hol­i­day book­ings are now made online and job appli­ca­tions are up 29.5%.

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