An €8.3 billion industry

The Irish tourism industry was worth €8.3 billion to the Irish economy in 2016 and is growing steadily. Frontend have worked with Diageo for over 11 years - the creators of the Guinness Storehouse, Ireland’s #1 tourist destination and one of the biggest attractions in Europe.

Building on the success of the Guinness Storehouse, Diageo created a brewery experience for their Smithwick’s brand located on the original site where the Ale was brewed from the 1700s. Opening in July 2014, The Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny is already the #2 attraction in Kilkenny.

In recent years Smithwick’s repositioned their brand, leveraging the increasing popularity of craft beers & ales and to resonate with a younger target market of 25-40 year olds. The Smithwick’s Experience website needed to align with this brand repositioning whilst also retaining some of its own positive brand attributes.

It was also felt that the existing website did not convey the experience adequately, fundamental to attracting visitors and encourage recommendations to others. It was functional but not compelling. Diageo also wanted to position the Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny within a broader tourism context, linking it to Ireland Medieval Mile and Ireland’s Ancient East - particularly important from an SEO perspective and attracting overseas visitors planning their vacations.


The Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny Homepage
A sketch which the design team wanted for the homepage image.


A Persuasive Rationale

A key starting point was understanding the role of the website for the business and its context of use. Ticket Sales is an obvious objective but we needed to determine key drivers to purchasing, the typical purchasing journey and devices used at key points in this journey. We needed to understand customers ‘moments of delight’ when visiting the experience, what they valued and what encourages them to recommend it to others. We achieved this through on-site research, reviews of social media feedback, staff insights and insights from Diageo stakeholders.

The new, fully responsive website was simplified considerably, helping to improve UX. Key messages are brought to the fore, making sure that task orientated visitors were conscious of the value proposition. The design also ties the Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny with the Smithwick’s ales, however, persistent calls to action to buy tickets leaves the user in no doubt that this is not just a brand site but a visitor attraction. The new site also makes the Smithwick’s Experience synonymous with Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile and Ireland’s Ancient East.

""We have delivered a website that truly reflects the direction of the brand and more importantly reflects the type of tour visitors can expect when they come to the Smithwick's Experience

Mark McGovern, Smithwick's design team discussing ideas.
An internal presentation of the design team.


Local, friendly and knowledgeable guides are highlighted at the outset, reflecting what customer’s value. Elements of the experience are alluded to including hi-tech holograms, interactive exhibits and surprising dynamic media, without being explicit; adding to the sense of discovery. Micro-interactions and micro-motions draw the user through the site and enhance the feeling of surprise. Ubiquitous Tripadvisor endorsements provides social proof online, a key factor influencing sales conversion. While the ‘Tickets’ button reduces friction in the online purchasing process.

Core to the success of the new design was creating suitable imagery. Frontend worked with the Smithwick’s brand team to determine the essence of the Ale’s brand and how it could be applied to Smithwick’s Experience. Imagery was carefully crafted to create a compelling narrative supported by succinct content. All visual assets were created to also support above and below the line marketing activity.


Real Results

Within a couple of months of launch the new website demonstrated dramatic improvements across every metric, and the redesign was nominated for an Eir Spider User Experience Award. were delighted to work with one of Ireland’s most cherished brands. The result is a truly contemporary site that reflects Smithwick’s brand value of having innovated for over 300 years.

To see the results visit

  • Join

    We are always looking for the world’s top design talent.

    Join Us

  • Two Decades of Thinking

    Read insights and analysis from our team of thought leaders. Thinking