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Digital transformation at one of Australia’s most beloved attractions

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

How do you connect a digital audience with the natural world?

Now in its 160th year, Melbourne Zoo is Australia’s oldest zoo. Along with Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee Open Range Zoo, the trio forms Zoos Victoria, Victoria’s largest paid tourist attraction, captivating over 2.25 million visitors each year.

More than just a tourist attraction, Zoos Victoria also operates as a not-for-profit world-leading zoo-based conservation organisation, dedicated to fighting wildlife extinction.

With Calico’s long history of crafting unique digital experiences for Australia’s most well-known and adored cultural institutions, working with one of the country’s largest attractions was a feather in our cap.

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Crafting a unified digital experience

Our enduring partnership with Zoos Victoria first began in 2012, and since that time Calico has been responsible for the overarching digital strategy of the Zoos, providing a pathway for digital engagement from the website through social media platforms, retail and membership.

In 2019, we embarked on our latest and largest project with Zoos Victoria – a complete rebuild to bring together all the existing arms of the company into a single cohesive digital solution.

Each zoo (Melbourne, Healesville and Werribee) had their own unique offering and online presence, but needed to fit together beneath the overarching Zoos Victoria branding. This relationship between the three zoos and the Zoos Victoria brand had to come to the forefront in a new, modern website to coincide with their rebranding. This would be our main challenge – to combine these separate sites while ensuring that additional properties, like the Membership site, Zoo Shop, Ticketing Site and Donation site, were a seamless part of the digital experience. 

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By binding the entire Zoos Victoria experience together, the aim was also to achieve greater exposure for the two regional zoos, coaxing visitors to wander beyond Melbourne Zoo.

Additionally, the Zoos’ conservation efforts and fundraising needed stronger promotion, with donation opportunities and conversion of visitors to members to be intertwined at every opportunity.

For ease of updating, admin would also have to be able to access all four properties within the one CMS interface.

A digital evolution

A goal of any of our ongoing client partnerships is to ensure that their digital presence is constantly evolving and continuously optimised, to provide the audience with the most contemporary digital experience.

Drawing on our long relationship with Zoos Victoria, we understood where they had come from, and where they needed to go.

With time, Zoos Victoria’s needs had changed – we now had to balance conservation messaging with revenue-raising activities, continue to manage multiple locations and brands in an effective manner, seamlessly integrate memberships & ticketing, and, satisfy the need to remain relevant in the face of changing attitudes towards zoos.

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With a long list of requirements, Umbraco was a natural solution for the rebuild – it allowed us to combine the multitude of sites to present to the user as one unified site, with a singular CMS, for ease of editing and content creation. 

We then altered the payment gateway, which allowed many of the upgrades to the membership site to occur. Tightly integrating the BOS ticketing system meant membership functionality could be included in the site itself, with a user now able to purchase tickets or a membership without leaving the site. We then added on a membership dashboard to give the user greater control over their membership details.

Seamless browsing, from start to finish

The result for Zoos Victoria is an integrated suite of online properties running from a modern and powerful Umbraco content management system. The Zoos’ engaged community are now enjoying a more considered brand experience with greater communication, targeting and education opportunities.

Clear and intuitive information architecture ensures users can easily find what they’re looking for at every step along their journey, while an emotive design, drawing on imagery of our connection to nature, has delighted and engaged users.

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Zoos Victoria now has greater communication with their audience, offers them better digital platforms, and drives more revenue as a business. Flexible and intuitive content tools enable Zoos Victoria content-creators to create rich pages and content with ease. This rebuilt digital experience offers complete freedom of content with controlled styling, ensuring that new pages are always consistent and responsive.

Our solution highlights the relationship between the three zoos and also gives additional exposure to the regional zoos to prospective Melbourne Zoo visitors, while communicating Zoos Victoria’s ever-present focus on conservation and fighting extinction.

Visit the Zoos Victoria site now to discover the full experience Calico developed. 

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