Chester Zoo's “Islands” project, which will recreate the South East Asian islands of the Philippines, Bali, Sulawesi, Papua, Sumba and Sumatra, in a previously unused part of the zoo, was recently given an online presence by Code Computerlove. The award-winning, Manchester-based digital agency designed the website for the zoo's new £30 million project in order to teach users about the various ecosystems and animals they will be encountering at the new attraction when it launches in Spring 2015. Code Computerlove was appointed to the project in 2013 and has been working with Chester Zoo for four years, in which time it has created an award-winning mobile site that has driven mobile ticket sales up by 233% and created a location specific companion app for the zoo.
Chester Zoo's “Islands” project will recreate six South East Asian islands
The attraction itself has been designed by German architecture firm, the Dan Pearlman Group (DPG), and will be built by the engineering company, Laing O'Rourke. The six islands will be separated by bridges, with each area holding examples of the wildlife that would be found on the islands they have been designed to represent.
"Code Computerlove has brought the Islands at Chester Zoo project to life within digital and mobile channels in a fantastic way.” Simon Hacking
There will also be a 15 minute “Lazy Boat Trip” and a stunningly immersive subtropical environment called “Monsoon Forest,” which will officially be (upon completion) the largest indoor zoo exhibit in the UK. DPG has also designed buildings based on the style of their respective islands to help keep the areas cohesive and convincing. The project is the largest of its kind in Europe, spanning 50,000 square metres, which is the size of seven football pitches. It's an experience that's expected to add an average of 2 hours to a Chester Zoo visitor's trip.
Islands at Chester Zoo - Teaser Trailer
The website will work across all devices, with optimisation for smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops. As well as letting potential guests know where they will be able to find the tigers, crocodiles and orangutans that will be taking up residence in the islands, the site also houses a virtual fly-through video (above), which provides an idea of the project's ambitious scale, and an interactive map with further information on the islands and their various wild residents. The locations on the map are currently being unlocked through social media shares, which is an incredibly clever way to incentivise sharing the Islands experience. The site will also contain a vast array of bespoke video content, competitions, and a frequently updated news section.
Code Computerlove's bespoke Islands website will work across all devices
Simon Hacking, the zoo's online marketing manager said that "Code Computerlove has brought the Islands at Chester Zoo project to life within digital and mobile channels in a fantastic way.” He also adds that the site has been designed to be used as an online hub for the zoo's digital marketing programme, which “Will now also include continual updates and engagement in social media channels.” He also says the new hub will “Now also include continual updates and engagement in social media channels,” plus encouragement for people to sign up to email updates as part of their CRM strategy. He says Islands is a major project, “Not only for Chester Zoo but for the UK as a whole and the website is a fantastic illustration of what is to come in spring 2015.”
The project is the largest of its kind in Europe
Kieran Stanley, chief executive of the Dan Pearlman Group, says the challenge for them was “To create a holistic seamless visitor experience while integrating 16 different buildings and facilities along a 1.5 kilometre series of paths through 50,000 square miles of jungle landscape with behavioural enrichment features for the 13 different endangered animals’ species that will find a new home here.” It certainly sounds like they had their work cut out for them!