Writing West Midlands Case Study

Events Booking Website Design & Development

The Backstory

Writing West Midlands (WWM) evolved from the Birmingham Book Festival which was established way back in 1999.

The organisation has gone from strength to strength and is now the literature development agency for the West Midlands region. Services include Spark Young Writers programme, our Room 204 Writer Development scheme, the Birmingham Literature Festival and the West Midlands Readers’ Network.

The Challenge

WWM had a problem. Several legacy websites that were impossible to maintain. The website developers were slow and unsupportive, the sites were technically out-of-date and event listings were hard to browse.

All of this meant that the sites were losing sales due to the technical and usability issues.

Writing West Midlands needed new sites and they needed them fast. They needed a simple to use Content Management System, Event Listings, EventBright Integration and the sites had to look and work as though they were part of the same overall group.

Strategy & Approach

With a major writing festival looming we had to move fast. We analysed the current sites and designed sitemaps and layouts for the primary site with the goal to use this one as a template for the design of the other sites.

We reviewed the brief and the problems and then clearly relayed this back to the team at WWM to ensure we fully understood all requirements. We also made suggestions where we felt something could be improved.

We then created a working prototype of the initial website that could be reviewed on desktop, laptops, tablets and mobile phones so feedback could be gathered and the layout and functionality refined.

With the prototype signed off we then set to work to get the first site live.

For the build we utilised the WordPress as the CMS and then built a custom theme and page layouts.

We imported all the content, integrated with the EventBright ticketing system and worked with Writing West Midlands to create a fully accessible and optimised site.

We then provided a training session and ongoing support to help the team at Writing West Midlands get the best possible results from their new site.

Finally, the site was hosted on our servers and fine tuned for speed and SEO. We also provide all technical support and maintenance keeping the site running smoothly and flying high on Google.

We have since then built two more sites for WWM and are working on number four.

The Results

Writing West Midlands now have three sites that all feel like they are part of a single group and that help them continue to grow and deliver this important work in the region.


All of these sites have exceeded their marketing goals and continue to help drive growth for the organisation.

Don’t just take our word for it

It is easy for us to blow our own trumpet but we would rather let you hear directly from our customers.

Olivia Chapman – Writing West Midlands:

Writing West Midlands has commissioned Bowler Hat to overhaul 3 websites in as many years, and build a completely new one from scratch.

Each website has a slightly different focus, completely different feel, and different functionality.

Every time, we have found working with Bowler Hat not just easy but a pleasure – they’re always quick to reply, spot problems and sort them out before they’re problems, and really be sure to understand what we need the website to do before they start the project – which means there are no misunderstandings or unexpected issues along the way.

The project brief they produce is thorough, clear and free of web-design jargon (which means everyone can understand it, including Trustees who need to sign off the budget spend) and they have always been on schedule if not ahead of schedule, which we appreciate hugely. They also communicate exceptionally well to let us know where they are with each stage and when we can expect the next stage to be completed.

Feedback on websites-in-development could not be more simple, and are quickly acted upon.

Once the website is ready, they undertake a thorough dummy-run check (a huge reassurance!) and once it’s launched, are always available at very short notice to sort out any bugs.

We truly feel supported by Bowler Hat as a team and are very grateful to have found them. They have made website management exceptionally stress-free!

Emma Boniwell – Writing West Midlands:

We worked with Andrew and Marcus on the redesign of our website www.sparkwriters.org There was a lot of content from the old website to bring across and recategorize, as well as our requirement to use an event bookings plugin that none of us were familiar with. They worked out the architecture of the site, explained their reasons and were very responsive to our suggestions.

The wireframe really helped us to visualise how it would all slot together before we populated it.

We find the Bowler Hat team great to work with – they are very responsive when there are problems, they never talk down to us, and help us to improve our WordPress skills by explaining what the problem was, rather than just fixing it for us.

It’s like having a web developer on the staff!

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