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Sowing the seeds of digital transformation

  • UX Research
  • Visual Design
  • Web Development
  • Umbraco CMS
  • Hosting
  • Support
  • Attraction

How do you engage nature-lovers to explore online?

The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (RBGV) covers two flora-filled locations – their historical heart in the centre of Melbourne, as well as a natural bushland experience at the contemporary botanic gardens in Cranbourne.

Together, they form one of the world’s most impressive botanical gardens and are one of Australia's biggest tourist destinations. Their mission is to safeguard plants and natural spaces, as they aim for a future where life is sustained and enriched by natural greenery.

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With an award winning collection of flora, a highly respected scientific reputation, and a long history, the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria is a cherished piece of Melbourne’s culture.

Calico’s passion for partnering with Melbourne’s most beloved places and spaces, as well as our endless pursuit for sustainability, made this partnership irresistible.

From little things, big things grow

With over 2 million visitors each year, the RBGV was expertly engaging its customers in visiting, and returning, to its gardens. However, their online presence told a different story.

Over 80% of visitors were new and most would only visit the site once. This indicated to us that users were only visiting the website to find practical information, like directions, leading to missed opportunities for engagement.

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The site was also outdated and not in line with the up-to-date digital behaviour and trends. Opportunities for revenue raising were fragmented, both online and on premises, which was impeding progress for the organisation and causing customer issues.

In short, the organisation had outgrown its digital channels, and was unable to support the needs of and opportunities for garden visitors, customers and internal staff.

Planting the seed

We began in late 2019 by conducting a CX + UX Research Project to develop a thorough report that would inform a roadmap for the Royal Botanic Gardens website redevelopment.

This was crucial to help the organisation to understand and engage more effectively with their visitors. It was a chance to uncover pain points and barriers to enjoyment, as well as highlight opportunities that could be leveraged for visitors to have a richer experience with their gardens.

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Key to the success of the research project was working closely with RBGV’s internal teams, drawing on their experience and knowledge to guide the development of end-to-end experiences and internal systems.

We completely immersed ourselves in our client’s world, conducting 24 one-on-one interviews and 6 stakeholder workshops and spending 4 days on site at both Melbourne and Cranbourne.

Together, this built a solid foundation that guided us towards our secondary research. Here, we conducted a detailed audit not only of the site itself, but the macro environment, including social media and digital marketing, as well as landscape and exemplar analysis.

Throughout it all, we had two simple objectives in mind: increased revenue and visitation.

By undertaking such an involved research stage, we were able to develop the tactical plan that would underpin the entire redevelopment.

It revealed four key themes:

  • We had to enable visitors to understand the role and purpose of RBGV
  • We had to increase awareness and attendance of programs and events
  • We had to strengthen opportunities for discovery and wayfinding, and,]
  • We had to implement technology and systems that could efficiently understand visitors behaviour and measure successful outcomes
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Time for new growth

With a thorough understanding of where the Royal Botanic Gardens had come from and where they needed to go, we were ready to redevelop the site.

To achieve our objectives, we completely reset the digital capabilities of the website, crafting a fully responsive and Level AA accessible central site with revised information architecture, including subsites for Melbourne Gardens and Cranbourne Gardens.

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A complete visual overhaul drove the new brand strategy and visual identity, carefully balancing aesthetics with functionality.

We also conducted an in-depth content audit, across copy, imagery and downloadable PDFs, with unnecessary content made redundant and extra content added where necessary.

To arm RGBV for the future, we developed a content strategy matching key themes, audiences & channels.

We then addressed gaps and issues with RBGV’s payment and communication pathways, integrating it with existing third party systems to streamline ticketing, email and donations.

From seed to tree

The digital strategy is only as good as the action it brings and we now find ourselves in the most exciting stage - seeing conceptual insights turn into real measurable results.

The website redevelopment has provided the technical & tactical platform from which Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria can progress further initiatives and ensure its future growth.

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The new site outfits visitors with the knowledge to go deeper and further in their discovery of the gardens, while staff are empowered to achieve more with improved resources.

Together, Calico and Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria have created an online platform that meets the needs of both the Gardens’ visitors and the organisation’s mission of safeguarding plants for people and the planet.

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