Edinburgh Zoo


For more than a century, iconic visitor attraction Edinburgh Zoo has created memorable, fun-filled experiences for people of all ages.

It has inspired and excited visitors with the wonder of living animals and, at the same time, established itself as one of Europe’s leading centres for conservation, education and research. To build on that fantastic heritage, we created a new website and mobile app that now offers an improved user experience and supports the zoo's long-term objectives.



Our brief was to create a digital presence that reflected the zoo's dual status as a modern visitor attraction and influential conservation centre.

The previous digital presence was outdated and unsupported. It was failing to capitalise on the growth in traffic generated by its globally-famous webcams or cater for its growing mobile audience. Our challenge was to create an improved user experience that would better support the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland's commercial and conservation objectives.

Two audience types were identified: new visitors, who needed to be enticed to make a booking, and given the information and resources to get more from their visit; and those with an existing connection to the zoo, who needed to be reengaged in order to extend their association through adoption, membership, repeat visits and advocacy.


Animals became the star attraction with big, emotive photography placed at the heart of the design.

This approach has helped break down barriers such as language and age whilst offering a more tactile experience that is closely aligned with a visit to the zoo. We complimented this with a professional and sleek look-and-feel, where our use of white space maximises the impact of the content.

In addition, to bring the zoo’s wide range of brilliant content alive, we introduced a unique iconography that has since been implemented in and around the zoo.

Stuart Rayson

“We incorporated modern design and free-flowing architecture on fully responsive templates to ensure the platform would offer the ideal experience on every device.”

Stuart Rayson Head Front End Developer

We made the zoo’s brilliant content easy to find and easy to use, helping users to explore and plan.

The website is packed with great content, from a full animal glossary to three captivating webcams. We had to ensure this content played an important role in the two user journeys.

We streamlined navigation. Gave users the freedom to flip between webcams. Added prominent calls to action. And created new ways for the zoo to communicate - including video, sound clips, image galleries and social media streams.


We gave Edinburgh Zoo control over its content.

It was essential that the new CMS allowed Edinburgh Zoo to efficiently organise and manage its content. In addition, it needed to offer the stability and flexibility to withstand the spikes in traffic that occur during peak periods and when events and news are shared.

By choosing Umbraco - a platform the RZSS team were familiar with - we created consistency across its entire digital stable and made it easier than ever to cross-promote content - especially important for communicating Edinburgh Zoo’s conservation charity status.

Phil Cox

“The Umbraco CMS has many advantages for Edinburgh Zoo, particularly the time and resource will save its team in creating, editing and sharing content with its users.”

Phil Cox Programming Director


We split the app’s user experience into two distinct categories: ‘I’m planning a visit’ and ‘I’m at the Zoo’.

This gave two very clear messages to the user and brought forward relevant content based upon customer type and what they were trying to achieve. ‘Planning’ focused on visitor information such as prices, animal details, attraction details with alert function and webcams; whilst ‘on site’ introduced explorer trail quiz, digital map guide, QR scanner and photocards.

Users are able to share photocards across their social networks, furthering the zoo’s reach to new audiences and reminding people of what it has to offer. Plus, key elements of the functionality were made available offline, meaning visitors could continue to use the app when not connected to the internet.


The website and app have both had a big impact across KPIs.

In the first 12 months, the app was downloaded 8,600 times, received a 4.5 out of 5 rating on the App Store and contributed to a 59% increase in revenue from the Christmas retail campaign. Meanwhile, the new Edinburgh Zoo website has recorded the following successes within the first year:

25% increase in ticket traffic

A 25% increase in traffic channelled to online ticketing

13% bounce rate reduction

A 13% reduction in bounce rates on mobile devices

2.7m visitors

Over 2.7 million website visitors during the first year

"The new website and app have had a profound impact on the visitor experience. We now have a modern digital presence with user-friendly and content-rich platforms that fulfil our long-term objectives to inspire and engage our audience, whilst enriching their zoo experience."
Jon-Paul Orsi, Digital Director Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS)
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