With over 250,000 visitors a year, St Davids Cathedral is a major attraction in West Wales for tourists and pilgrims alike. Heritage360 provided digital engagement materials as part of a major visitor interpretation overhaul.

A view of St Davids Cathedral from the top of stone steps.

Heritage360 worked with St Davids Cathedral between 2018-2020 to design and deliver a major overhaul of their on-site and remote visitor materials. This included the following key outputs:

  • On-site interactive touchscreens to aid visitor engagement
  • Interpretation signage for both interior and exterior contexts
  • A fold-out A3 visitor brochure with map and tour highlights
  • A new website, supporting mobile device tours for both on- and off-site exploration

The Cathedral receives over 250,000 visitors a year, partly driven by its significance as a site of religious pilgrimage, partly by its proximity to the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path and role as a popular holiday destination. The Cathedral team were eager to welcome all visitors to the site, but were aware that their existing digital materials and on-site infrastructure were inadequate for dealing with the different expectations and requirements of such a broad visitor demographic.

Heritage360 aimed to provide a coherent, accessible scheme of visitor engagement that drew upon the Cathedral's rich history and catered for both digital and non-digital experiences.

Interactive touchscreens

Two interactive touchscreens were developed as part of the on-site visitor engagement scheme.

The first, focusing on Welsh History and Nation, was located close to the visitor reception area and was intended to provide engaging, visually-led information that introduced the Cathedral's rich history.

The second, focusing on the Saints of West Wales and located in close promixity to the St David's shrine, focused on the spiritual significance of four key saints that continue to play a part in the Cathedral's story.

The interfaces for both touchscreens were designed around a common layout, ensuring a level of familiarity for visitors. Text was concise and directed, and sections were accompanied by high-quality imagery that ensured the experience was both informative and visually stimulating.

Interpretation signage and fold-out brochure

Whilst acknowledging that visually-intrusive signage was to be minimised where possible, the proposed visitor engagement scheme ensured that all visitors could access interpretation materials during their visit.

The digital approaches detailed above and below offered a low-impact route to engagement, but physical materials were of equal importance to support those unwilling/unable to access the touchscreen and web-based media. Interpretation signage therefore included:

  • Small A4-sized signage that highlighted objects and areas of significance. These were deliberately designed to harmonise with their surroundings to minimise visual impact. Each sign was accompanied by a QR code that provided access to additional information for mobile device users.
  • A small amount of wall-banner and free-standing signage was produced to highlight key elements of the Cathedral's story and present situational materials, including English/Welsh poetry.
  • Exterior signage to welcome visitors was placed at strategic access points to the Cathedral and its precinct.

In addition to the signage, a new A3 fold-out brochure was created that provided easily-comprehensible plans of the Cathedral and its precinct. The floorplan of the Cathedral provided short, introductory information on key visitor highlights in additional to practical details regarding facilities.

Website and mobile devices

The St Davids Cathedral website prior to 2020 had grown organically over the preceding decade. It was in need of rationalisation in terms of structure/content, but also required a modern, mobile-friendly graphical approach.

The web development brief was to:

  • provide an easy-to-use content management system
  • devise a facility for the management and display of regular services and special events;
  • provide a platform capable of supporting resources to encourage remote, virtual visiting;
  • enhance the digital visitor experience on-site via the use of mobile-delivered ‘web-apps’;
  • provide a platform that would support bi-lingual (English/Welsh) content delivery.

Heritage360 delivered a web resource that brought together on-site and remote visiting, allowing visitors to the Cathedral to access information on their mobile devices via discreet QR codes located throughout the Cathedral whilst also encouraging remote visiting via the rich materials on offer.