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Theatre Web Design Guide And Techniques

By Michael Macneil on Monday, 12 March 2018

Theatre web design - Recently, ID Studio Web Agency was commissioned to build the new theatrical website for the National Youth Music Theatre (NYMT). This was an exciting project that has spurred us into the arts and theatre web design arena.

Gone are the days when just selling tickets and providing critical information on your website was enough. Competition has led to much higher expectations and your theatre-based website needs to stand out and deliver as one of your primary selling tools.

Just the word alone, 'Theatre' conjures a strong visual picture, and this is what your website needs to evoke.  Let the actors shine with fantastic photography, promote your shows, provide sneak previews to enthrall and engage your visitors.

Theatre Web Design Functional requirements

The website's functional requirements will be dictated by the target market and the type of services you are offering.  You might want to consider any of the following for inclusion on your website.:

News and blog articles – Having a blog is a great way to promote your theatre, shows, galleries or industry-related news.  If implemented correctly, a blog can help grow traffic to our website, increase sales, improve domain authority and the overall perception of your website and business.

Social media promotion – Incorporating an effective social media strategy can have enormous benefits with exposure to your website.  It will help improve your Google search rankings, increase links, visibility and traffic to your website.

Marketing list – Creating a marketing list will have many benefits for your theatre and arts-related website.  You can help grow your lists through newsletter signups, physical visitors to your business, social sharing, referrals etc.  Once you have a list, you need to make it as detailed as possible so that you can target people by demographics, preferences etc. making your marketing campaigns even more effective. MailChimp is a great service that can help you manage and look after your complete email newsletter strategy.

Promote actors/artists –  By prominently promoting well-known artists you will help retain site visitors and increase the chances of converting them into customers. 

Online Ticket booking – In the theatrical industry, it is highly likely that you will be selling tickets.  Incorporating this functionality into your website will reap rewards.  Some of the main advantages are that you are open twenty-four hours a day, potential customers don’t need to ring back during office hours or visit your premises. The benefits are numerous, however, as this article is not exclusively about online booking systems, I will just list a few of them - Convenience, control, up-selling opportunities, capturing customers data…

Venue layout – I expect this is not just me, however, I certainly want to know where I am sitting when buying tickets.  Am I crammed in the middle, by the toilets or is there a pillar right in front of me?  By excluding this information you are potentially creating barriers and ultimately losing out on conversions.  Many third-party ticketing portals offer this technology, if you are going to utilise one it’s worth checking out.

Locational information – Your theatre website design needs to show where you are located, public transport, parking spaces, coffee shops, venues to eat and anything else that people might want to know.

Live chat – This is a great technique to keep people on your website, answer any questions and help convert them into paying customers.  It is cheap to set up, however, you need someone to run it!

FAQs section – Help reduce any potential barriers by answering common queries, with a decent content management system you can keep this area fresh and relevant.

Prominent information must be clear and immediate

If the main purpose of your website is to increase sales in the form of tickets or visitors, then you need to create an online journey to help achieve this process.  It is paramount during the wireframing process that core information is immediately available, in the main line of sight and not hidden away.

Importance of Photography, images and galleries

The visual impact of your website is paramount because of the industry you are in, people will expect to be visually impressed.  The inclusion of professional photography, showcasing current and past theatrical performances, artists etc. will help sell the experience.  All photography needs to be of the highest quality, preferably taken by a professional photographer.  Images need to be crisp, high resolution, relevant, interesting, inspiring, capturing the moment so that people will want to come and purchase tickets or visit your gallery.

Strong calls to action

This is especially important for the theatre and arts industry where you are trying to convince site visitors to complete the desired action.  The website needs to be designed so that visitors interact in a way that compels them to purchase tickets, request a brochure, view a video, make a booking etc.  Without strong call-to-action triggers, this will be difficult to achieve.

Teaser Video

Before you go ahead and add video content to your site, it is imperative that it is of high quality.  Adding a video that is in low resolution, dark, poor sound quality or out of focus will do more harm than good.  The whole point of the video is to promote your theatrical or artistic business, not showcase some dodgy clip that makes you look amateur and slapdash.  Take a look at the Lion King website as a good example, or even small local theatres that often use high quality, targeted videos promoting their offerings.

Most decent content management systems such as ProcessWire will allow you to add videos to your website, and you can host them on Vimeo.

Back yourself

Awards – Showcase any awards, articles in newspapers, online reviews etc. make sure to showcase them on the home page encouraging people to view them.

Testimonials – Add testimonials throughout the website, this helps build trust and faith in what you are offering.

TripAdvisor – If you have great Theatre TripAdvisor ratings, showcase this on your homepage.  Let people see what they are missing out on.

Google reviews – Again, if you have some fantastic Google reviews about your theatre or gallery, make sure to show them off on the home page and other select pages.

Go that little bit further

If there are great restaurants or cafes close by your theatre, let people know and provide their contact details.  By providing this information you don’t just improve the overall website experience, it might also be the deciding factor that converts that booking to your theatre.  Also, this creates another opportunity to gain incoming links to your website from the businesses you are promoting.

SSL Enabled

This is especially important if you are taking payment through your theatre or arts-related website.  Having an SSL certificate will encrypt sensitive information that is passed through your websites, such as user information and payment details.  If you are taking payments, trust is an enormous issue and not having a valid SSL will cost you sales.  Even websites that have login forms will be using sensitive information such as usernames and passwords, that people will need and want to protect.

In addition, Google also endorsed websites that have an SSL certificate, so it can have some benefits to your search engine rankings.

Websites that do not have a valid SSL will have a warning displayed to site visitors in their browsers.

You can purchase a private or shared SSL certificate, in layman's terms a private SSL is for your domain only and a shared SSL would be from a web hosting company.  There are many informative articles if you are still unsure searchable on Google.

If you would like more information on how ID Studio Web Agency web design London could transform your theatre-related website, contact Mike on 020 8948 5808 or use our contact form.

Michael Macneil

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