Plaza Cinema

Portfolio

We occasionally like to build a site for a community group or charity who would otherwise struggle to get the funds together to really benefit from a top-end website. 

This time we donated some of our time and energy to Crosby, Liverpool’s Plaza Cinema.

The Plaza cinema first opened in 1939 and ran for many years, before being offered for redevelopment in 1995. Following a campaign by the local community to save the cinema, it reopened in 1997.

Visit the site at www.plazacinema.org.uk to take a look for yourself.

Image shows the Plaza Home page

Requirements

  • Site functionality to handle complex cinema schedules
  • The development of a site with an improved and simple workflow
  • A fresh, modern, responsive website, able to hold its own against large competitors

Services

  • Full Web Design
  • Development of sophisticated WordPress theme
  • Extension of Events Plugin to handle complex cinema schedules
  • Development of TheMovieDb.org API plugin to improve workflow
  • Custom taxonomies
  • Hosting
  • User training
  • Ongoing user support
  • Links to newsletter subscription systems
  • Ongoing content management support

Project Background

Before embarking on this project, we were successful in making the shortlist to redevelop the FACT website. We had heads full of great ideas for the presentation of cinematic information and schedules and we fancied implementing them. The designer and developer of this site had recently moved into a new house near the Plaza Cinema and couldn’t help noticing that their site could benefit from our skills. An idea was born, some calls were made and a plan fell into place.

Image shows the What's On page

Site Design

A cinema website design is a tricky thing to get just right – after all, you need to be able to easily present complex scheduling information (what’s on, what’s coming soon, etc.) whilst at the same time allowing the films to sell themselves. We wanted to create a cinematic experience within the browser quite unlike the surprisingly poor visual experience of most cinema websites.

The design language within interconnect/it is very much based upon typographic systems following mathematical structures. There’s not only a grid of columns, as is common on websites, but a carefully structured typographic scale allowing for the creation of vertical rhythm.

With the strong typographic there is little need for graphical frippery and instead you can allow the text and movie images to really stand out. On the movie pages we use large backdrop images, pulled in automatically from the TheMovieDb.org, to create a visually bold statement with very little effort from the site administrators.

On top of this there is a dynamic feel to the site where hovering over film names changes the backdrops and clicking them has the feeling of dimming the lights while the film trailer is pulled in from YouTube. The feeling of being at the cinema is reproduced in these actions.

Image shows the film info

Time-Saving Workflow

One key element we focus on at interconnect/it is that visual design is nothing without a good workflow for the people who assemble the site. A CMS should never slow down or stress the user or visitor and we look at what takes up their time and what we can do to save it. In this site’s case, the ability to automatically pull in movie descriptions, images and taxonomies such as actors and directors means that a lot of time is saved in creating the site’s content. Previously it took about an hour to create a film listing, whereas now it takes around five to ten minutes to not only list the film but allow visitors to view trailers and see the key people involved.

This video shows how the workflow comes together:

 

Post Launch

The site has been running successfully since 2011. The site is updated very regularly with minimal problems for the Plaza Cinema team and support overhead is as a consequence minimal.

It’s interesting to note that the web design has aged extremely well – a testament to the hard work of our developer on this build. We think it’s fair to say that the design works as well as it did when it was first developed over 5 years ago and is still able to successfully hold its own against its larger competitors.

Visit the Plaza Cinema website for yourself, to see why it’s a step forward in cinema website design.

David Coveney

David Coveney

Dave has been working in software development since 1988, starting with payroll development and then ERP consultancy for large corporates. He is a keen traveller, photographer and motorsport enthusiast, but now puts family first as he’s massively in love with his two little boys. Dave is still an early adopter. He was connected to the internet from his bedroom, way back in the eighties, had a personal website by 1994, was into the connected house in the late '90s, a smartphone by 2002, and a was the first in the office with a fitness tracker.