Growing an International audience

Growing an international festival audience with locally-supported content tools

Manchester Literature Festival (MLF) is an annual event offering high quality live literature experiences and a year-round programme of related activities. Human created a cost-effective content platform for the festival using tools from its PagePlay offering. The audience, programme and ambitions have expanded over the years, with the website serving as an important platform for growth.

MLF competes in the busy marketplace for cultural audiences by showcasing the very best in contemporary writing from across the world and commissioning innovative literature from established and emerging writers to provide opportunities for writers to experiment with new media in the production and presentation of their work.

The brief

The festival delivers more than just the annual programme; promoting Manchester as a hub for international cultural exchange and providing inspirational opportunities for children and young people to engage in creative writing and reading activities.

Growing the audience and boosting the year round programme of activities year-on-year are key objectives for MLF.

  • Improve access to the annual programme content.
  • Browse by category, by time and by following connections between events.
  • Make clear connections between authors, venues and events.
  • Allow creating and sharing of content in relation to the year round programme of events.
  • Integrate social media.

Production & ongoing development

  • Production of website and CMS
  • Delivery of a cost-effective relational content platform
  • Augmented the PagePlay toolkit with bespoke insight, design advice and user testing
  • Evolution of the interface and support for the team since Spring 2013

The MLF team realised early on that our approach would have a value disproportionate to the investment required. Because we could augment existing tools and technologies with our own brand and strategic insight we were able to deliver a digital service which punched above its weight at the time of launch.

Challenges faced

  • Standard tools don’t always meet every need.
    • Human took an adaptive approach playing in third party tools such as Wordpress where useful.
  • Workflow of content addition
    • Working directly with the MLF team to understand pain points and iterate new solutions into the tools together.


The MLF team got a solid solution which allows them to create the programme for the forthcoming festival each year and maintain an archive of previous years. Attendance at the festival has continued to grow each year.

Compromise is an essential dynamic in making limited budgets work hard for growing publicly-funded events. MLF showed true leadership by choosing to work with a proactive team unafraid to use a mix of tools and techniques to get the job done.

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