The Morgan Quarter is the heart of Cardiff’s shopping district, offering quirky boutiques & independent shops alongside prestigious brands & award-winning eateries in two vibrant Victorian arcades.
Cardiff is known as the “City of Arcades” because of the transformation that took place in the city centre during the Victorian era. During the 1790s, records show that the shopping scene in Cardiff was limited to 25 ‘market stalls’, but by 1902 the city could boast nine arcades, with thousands of feet of shopping space. It began with the Cardiff Arcade Company in 1858, who were founded to construct the Royal Arcade, which connected The Hayes and St Mary Street. As Cardiff’s first indoor shopping area, it significantly increased the number of shops available to the locals. Then, in 1879, David Morgan opened his first store on The Hayes, catering largely to the drapery trade.
When he opened his second shop in St Mary Street in 1898, he was already constructing what is now the Morgan Arcade. Originally called the New Central Arcade, it ran parallel to the Royal Arcade, and when it was completed in 1899 it connected the shopfronts of both his stores.
The David Morgan Department Store existed on that spot until 2005, when it closed its doors for the last time. Its legacy has been reborn in the Morgan Quarter, which brings together the Grade II-listed Royal Arcade and Morgan Arcade into a thriving area of shops, apartments and office space.
With 80% of users searching the internet on smartphones, it’s increasingly difficult to make the most of your online presence without a website that looks good on a small screen to people who are on the move. The Morgan Quarter needed to be able to reach people who are out and about, which formed the core of their brief to us.
Unlike many of the clients that Creo work with, the Morgan Quarter were fond of their existing website, and wanted to improve on its technical drawbacks while preserving its look and feel. They particularly wanted to retain the characteristic grid format, which is a strong visual representation of their branding. Our challenge was to reimagine that distinctive design as part of a responsive website.
A responsive site was necessary to reach the Morgan Quarter’s target audience, but as well as having strong visuals, it needed to let visitors quickly and intuitively navigate the host of shops and cafes on offer.
We began by examining the old Morgan Quarter site, establishing what aspects of design to preserve and how to update its functionality in line with technological advancements in the web design industry. During the redesign, we focused on usability, making sure that each page offered strong, on-brand visuals so that users can enjoy their virtual tour, and topping each page with a logo optimised for clarity during mobile browsing. We’re particularly fond of the fact that it continually changes hue, reflecting the vibrancy of life in the Morgan Quarter.
We ensured that the technical structure of the site was easy for users to navigate by building a system to filter all the stores by category, alphabetically and by location. Because Cardiff’s arcades can be a little confusing to navigate on the ground, we added a new “Finding Us” section, which houses a map and directions for travelling to the Morgan Quarter by foot, car, bus and train. We also linked the website with the Morgan Quarter’s social media feeds, populating their gallery with Instagram pictures that shows what’s going on in the arcades.