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Website design, build, and management for the Chipping Norton Literary Festival

Building a flexible and intuative experience for one of the best literary festivals in the UK

In 2019, it was time to apply a few updates to the Festival site. Although everything was running fine and looked good, there was a bunch of optimisations that 4 years of tech can add.

Craft CMS needed to jump from v2 to v3, but with a small wishlist (the data model and structure from 2015 is robust and remains), it also made sense to refactor the HTML and CSS. The result is a much faster and accessible site with a lot of help from Tailwind CSS.

From 2015 the Chipping Norton Literary Festival has had a high profile and took on a new identity from mark-making*. Here, my role was to take the brand ideals and apply them to the festival website, which incorporates enables editors to easily manage Authors, Events, Sponsors and a Blog. Every aspect of the site from default text to asset management, replete with features for captions and photo credits - is under control of the site editors.

Working with the festival team has been a great privilege over the past few years. The festival has quickly grown since 2012 into one of the best and unique events on the literary calendar, using iconic local locations (such as The Theatre) and attracting some of the biggest names in literature.

Chipping Norton Literary Festival Website

Working with Simon on the ChipLitFest website has been a real pleasure. Simon has effectively managed the full design and build process, developing solutions that are both well-designed and simple to use for the end-user. He has great insight into user experience and has created a site that the Festival is proud to use. This is backed up by the great feedback we have had from many users. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with Simon again and to recommend him to anyone.
-Emma Walker
screenshot of Richard Osman event page
screenshot of Kathy Slack Page


There is a lot of content, and a lot of content related to other content. Authors are arguably the headline attraction, but in the cold light of structure they are actually one element in the system.

In this system, Events are what makes everything tick. Each Event can have multiple Authors and Authors can have multiple Events. Events also have a date and time, not to mention sponsors. Sponsors also can sponsor multiple Events and have their own set of biographies, logos and urls. Events have a type. Events have prices. Events have Venues, and in turn, Venues have their own place in the system. Add to all this, all the standard SEO and tagging tools you would expect from a modern CMS.

screenshot of David Badiell event page
screenshot of festival lineup of authors
screenshot of Alan Johnson author page
screenshot of Alan Johnson event page

Building a comprehensive system

After massive success with SOFII, On Form Sculpture and White Post Farm sites, Craft CMS was the obvious choice to build the ultimate festival events system. We can build complex multiple relationships with simple section from specified lists. Then drag and drop to reorder.

A blog with multiple authors and content editors also has the ability to produce complex long-form content within the CMS. The same is also for a general section, where editors can create pages that don’t fit within the site structure.

Editors have complete control over page ordering and naming in the navigation, and ability to select locations with simply dropping a pin on a map.

The homepage, event and blog homepage are completely customisable with drag and drop, rather than not being tied to date or any other parameter.


The committee approached me to update their existing website both from a brand and technical perspective. Another local agency, mark-making*, were working on a super new identity. As a previous attendee of festival events it felt the natural fit to work and support a positive local event that raises the profile of the town for the right reasons.

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