CASE STUDY: Design & build

Giving The Gruffalo a new, fully interactive online home

How we created a fully responsive and immersive website aimed at both adults and children.


The Gruffalo is a children's book by writer and playwright Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler, that tells the story of a mouse taking a walk in the woods.

Initially published in 1999, the book has sold over 13 million copies, has won several prizes for children's literature, and has been developed into plays on both the West End and Broadway.

The brief

The fantastical Gruffalo lives in the deep dark wood, but publishers Pan Macmillan also wanted to give him a home online, ahead of the book’s 15 year anniversary.

They came to us to create an experience that would capture the imagination of the Gruffalo's biggest fans: children.

We were tasked with creating a website that was in keeping with the heritage of the books, with content to engage children and inform parents.

Pan Macmillan

The solution

The fully responsive and interactive site provides a rich environment through which fans can explore the world of the Gruffalo.

For children, our friends at Aardman Animations created the ‘deep dark woods’, using Axel Scheffler’s beautiful illustrations to create an interactive world of mini-games and hidden surprises.

Built on an engagement platform

Built using Kentico EMS, the new website provides a bespoke experience for every visitor, resulting in higher engagement. It is easy to edit, and scalable to meet the spikes in traffic when marketing activities are run.

The result

Oh help!

The new website has been incredibly well-received by users, the press and of course Pan Macmillan.

The combination of Kentico EMS and Windows Azure (and our efficient coding) performed admirably when a nationwide television campaign began to drive more traffic to the site.

This can be well demonstrated by the following stats:

  • 121,048 visits to the site with over 70% new visits from over 160 countries, with an average page load time of less than 2 seconds.
  • Visitors viewed an average of 4.3 pages per visit and spent an average of 4 minutes on the site with 10% of traffic spending over 10 minutes on the site each visit.
  • Over 35% of traffic came from a mobile or tablet proving that responsive was the best way for the site to be designed.

These stats demonstrate that the site was able to cope with the traffic levels and deliver a highly engaging site that users spent time viewing from all over the world.

The website has been featured in several press articles, and is a Finalist in the Kentico Site of the Year awards under "Best Graphic Design".

What do Pan Macmillan say?

James LuscombeMarketing Technology Director

"Distinction’s team worked with us from the conception of the project. This highly collaborative approach meant a wide range of people from the business were able to feed into the process from the outset.

The website has been a huge success not only for adults, children, Julia Donaldson and the Gruffalo team, but in the wider Macmillan global group."

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