Festival Websites – Optimise or Die

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In the ever-evolving world of digital, it goes without saying that things can change in the blink of an eye. We can’t turn our heads without companies like Apple pulling something new from up their sleeves, and software is becoming faster and more reliable than ever. But, when it comes to websites, can the same be said?

If you compare a website from 10 years ago to now, it’s clear to see that they have improved massively to keep up with the advancement of technology. Therefore, if we were going to apply the theory of evolution to our websites, we must either adapt to the changes, or miss out on revenue-generating opportunities.

Whether you are a business starting out, or you have been around for a while, it’s important to know what is going to work best for your company as a whole, and what you can do to generate traffic in the quickest and most efficient way.

With that in mind, we thought that as we are currently amidst the festival season, we would take a look into festival websites. More specifically, we wanted to look closely at whether these festival companies have optimised their websites so that they can be viewed easily on multiple devices – desktop, mobile, tablet – and see whether or not this makes a difference to their overall sales, and whether they are user friendly as a result.


Reading & Leeds Festival

Originally, just the Reading Festival, The Reading & Leeds Festival came into existence in 1999.

Now, both of these festivals have become an August bank holiday weekend staple, famous for the fact that their headliners perform at each location, alternating on a nightly basis.

But a lot of the tickets for this event are purchased online by people all over the UK, so it’s important that they have websites that are user friendly, fast and easy to operate.

And it’s also important that both of these websites are optimised to work well on mobile devices too.

The Leeds & Reading Desktop Websites

Leeds festival

If you visit the Leeds or Reading website, you will notice that it has an extremely fast loading time.

The ‘Buy Tickets’ option takes centre stage – as does the line-up – along the top of the page. This leaves little room for anyone to be confused. If you want to know who’s playing, click the first one. If you want tickets, the second one is the one you need to look at.

It’s clear that customer experience is at the heart of everything they do, and their request for feedback only adds to this. But how are they faring on mobile devices?


How Leeds & Reading Festival Have Optimised Their Website

Leeds festival mobile

It’s clear that the Leeds and Reading websites have been optimised for mobile devices. Even though the website does take a little longer to load (we’re referring to the speed on an Android smartphone here), it’s still incredibly easy to navigate and stands out with its stylish, bold colours.

Again, tickets, the line-up, latest news and social media are all advertised on the homepage. The ease of finding tickets for these events is an important part of the festival website experience for this business – that’s clear.

The highlighted artists at the event also feature on the homepage, making it easier to find out if your favourite act will be there.

It’s features like this that make the optimised Leeds and Reading websites perfect for their function – and as more and more people shift towards mobile technology, there’s never been a better time to pursue this than now.



This festival is one that reaches a lot further back than the rest of them, with 1914 being the first time that a ‘Glastonbury Festival’ was held. It’s shifted and grown a lot since then, and now Glastonbury has become a festival celebrating all art types.

It can actually be argued that Glastonbury is more like an event than a festival because there is just so much going on and so much to see. It’s largely about the music but in recent years, Glastonbury has become more of an experience than anything else.

So how has this iconic festival made the most of their website online?


The Glastonbury Desktop Website


Although slightly slower than the Reading and Leeds websites, Glastonbury does load fairly quickly on a desktop computer, which could of course lower the website bounce rate and keep customers on the page for longer.

There isn’t a direct link to the tickets on the Glastonbury website. However, this is because you have to register to get tickets to attend the festival – which means there’s no option to actually purchase them.

Despite this, the Glastonbury website does everything that it needs to do. It offers news, information about the festival, a detailed line-up page and even offers an insight into the history of the festival.

But can the same be said for the mobile version?


How Glastonbury Have Optimised Their Website



Despite looking good when fully loaded (and this does take a great while) The Glastonbury Festival really does miss the mark when it comes to mobile optimisation.

The idea is the website needs to be fast to load, or face people clicking away and visiting another website.

The reality is that these days, people will not wait around when it comes to browsing the internet. They expect a fast loading speed and it’s up to providers to give them that.

And if they don’t, then they’re missing a trick.

A high website bounce rate will result in people spending a smaller amount of time on the pages of your website – yet you could argue that this won’t affect the Glastonbury revenue considering they are a widely revered festival known by the nation and beyond.

But as more and more festivals pop up and join the fight to become the first choice for customers, Glastonbury may need to revisit their lack of mobile optimised website and join the game once more.


Download Festival

Download Festival is the most recognised Rock music festival in the UK. Beginning back in 2003 – after it took over from the Monsters of Rock brand – Download is a place for all lovers or rock music to come together and celebrate the genre.

So let’s take a closer look at what the Download Festival’s website is like, and how it fares against the others in this selection.


The Download Festival Desktop Website

Download Festival 2015

The desktop version of the Download website is fast loading and tells you immediately what Download is about from the word go.

Despite the fact that Download has been and gone doesn’t change the fact that as soon as you click on the website, there is still the original banner of information at the top – under the main Download logo – that displays the line-up, ticket information and news clearly.

In terms of the layout, its an extremely clean website and you’re not scrolling through page after page to get to the bottom – everything you really need is compact, which is always a great sign for a company’s homepage, as this is the first thing people will notice.

Again, because the festival has already taken place, there is now an option to take a look at the best bits of the festival, memorable moments and behind the scenes information for those who either missed the festival, or are experiencing those post festival blues.

As far as effective desktop websites go, Download has done a pretty stellar job!


How The Download Festival Has Optimised Its Website

download festival

When you first click on the mobile version of the Download website, it takes seconds to load, which for ticket buyers is a major plus.

The top banner no longer exists. Instead, there is a dropdown menu alternative that when clicked, displays all the relevant information about the line-up, tickets etc. So it’s clear here that optimising their website enabled Download to make all their important information easily accessible for website viewers.

Not only this, but if you scroll down the website, there is a second banner advertising tickets to make it even easier for rock enthusiasts to make sure they don’t miss out on the opportunity to attend Download.

The fact that Downlod have chosen to optimise their website for the convenience of visitors, gives this ticket banner the opportunity to stand out. It may not look as prominent otherwise and the idea is to make searching for tickets as easy as possible for potential customers.

Download have used optimisation effectively as a result so we wouldn’t be surprised why more visitors choose to view this website on their mobiles.


V Festival

To those who aren’t actually aware, the idea of V Festival came from Pulp’s frontman, Jarvis Cocker in 1996. After announcing that he wanted to play two outdoor festivals in two days, Pulp’s promoters came up with the idea of putting the gig into Victoria Park Warrington and Hylands Park Chelmsford. This gave fans in both the North and South a chance to experience the band.

As more bands and more stages were added, Victoria Park became too small to host the festival, so the North leg of the festival moved to Western Park in Staffordshire and has been there ever since.


The V Festival Desktop Website

V Festival 2015

When you first click on the link for the V Festival website, it loads within seconds. All the important information you need regarding tickets, the line-up and general information is located on the top banner and you are immediately face-to-face with a large countdown banner on the homepage – a great idea to get V Festival fanatics a chance to get excited in the lead up!

The layout is fresh and colourful so it immediately attracts attention as soon as you click on the link. For those who view this on an iMac or an equally sizable desktop, this is a very visually appealing website and represents summer and festival life to a T.


How V Festival Have Optimised Their Website

vfestival mobile

When you click on the V Festival website using a mobile device, the website loads just as quickly as the desktop version – so far so good!

Everything you view on the homepage on the desktop version is still featured on the optimised version, with the exception of the top banner. Rather than have all the information laid out in a row, there is now a dropdown menu version, which allows the website to look clean and neat when viewing it on a mobile device – very similar to the Download optimised version.

It’s clear that V Festival have considered optimising their website for mobile devices but have managed to keep their bold and fun design still a prominent feature. All the information that is key is still easily accessible for users and the countdown is still there so that V Fest-goers know exactly how long they have to wait until the festival  no matter what device they use to view the site.

The fact that V Festival have chosen to optimise their website will no doubt do wonders for their traffic. This is because the fast loading and relevant information aspect allows viewers to find their way around the website quickly and easily, especially if they are on the go. Increased traffic means more people will choose to buy their tickets via a mobile device and more tickets could potentially sell as a result. Therefore, optimising their website was a great move for V Festival.



Just like the rest of the festivals on this list, Parklife is an annual occasion held in Heaton Park, Manchester, and where indie and electronica collide.

It usually falls when exams are just finishing, which makes it a popular festival choice for students. However, there is always a mixed bunch and it is jointly organised by a number of groups – one of which is the Warehouse Project.


The Parklife Desktop Website


The Parklife website gives you an instant vibe of what the festival is about from the moment you click on it. It showcases the main stage of the festival and a huge crowd enjoying the highlights and experiencing Parklife to its fullest. It also changes from day to night, which gives the website a cool and contemporary vibe.

The dates of the festival are clearly highlighted in the centre of the homepage, with the main information regarding tickets, line-up, VIP and even information about the Warehouse Project for those who may be interested.

However, the homepage is a little cluttered when viewing it on a desktop computer because it largely consists of long lists of the line-in various formats (various days, stages and A-Z). An option to view the line-up is already available at the top of the page so the homepage would probably benefit from having less content like Download’s.



How Parklife Have Optimised Their Website


The Parklife website, when viewed on a mobile device, is very similar to the desktop version. In some ways this can be problematic because if a visitor has viewed the website on a desktop and they are not too keen, the mobile version isn’t that much different.

The website loads relatively quickly but again, because it takes a while to scroll down to the bottom of the page, this could cause a lot of people to lose interest. A lot of the information is repeated and it’s unlikely that viewers are going to sit on their mobile devices reading through the entire page.

You often find you are scrolling faster than the information is actually loading meaning that there’s probably far more content on a homepage then there needs to be. The homepage would have a greater impact via the optimised version if it was less cluttered, so as far as optimisation goes, Parklife haven’t really used it to their full advantage.



As you can see, all the festivals we have covered have made some attempt at optimising their website for mobile devices.

Although some of them may be lagging behind others in terms of accessibility and loading speeds – they’re all heading in the right direction.

Soon, these website types may not even be accessed by desktops – and now that Google also has implemented its mobile updated, it’s more important than ever to have an effective mobile optimised website. This is especially true if you want to get as many website visits, and sell as many tickets, as possible.

So what’re your thoughts on mobile optimisation when it comes to festival websites? Are there any that you think could be improved? Or perhaps some that deserve and extra special shout for being great?

Join the conversation and tweet us @OV_Group. We’d love to hear from you!







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