A reader recently complained that a lot of theatre's websites don't serve their purpose; informing potential patrons about current or upcoming productions.
What is going on with some of the local theatre's web-pages? Most of the theatres do a good job with keeping up their pages but some theatres have not updated their pages in months.
Are these theatres still in operation?
I've written about this before. A theatre's website is as important as its lobby, its programs, or its paid advertising. In many cases, it is the first place people go to find out what the company is doing.
I thought I'd take a more detailed approach this time: first, I'm going to set up criteria, then I'm going to see how every theatre website on my list of links stands up to them. I'll be starting from the top, and work my way down.
I am going to leave out the performing arts centers; their missions are different than a regional theater's, so the criteria will and should be different.
So first, the criteria: in descending order, here are the five things a theater's website MUST provide at first glance:
- The name of either the current production, or the one you are about to open. Should include basic information about the play itself.
- The dates of the production (previews, opening, and closing).
- The performance schedule - which days can we see it, and at what times?
- A link to purchase tickets OR a phone number to your box office, icluding box office hours.
- Directions to your theatre.
Each of the five criteria are worth up to five points, so a perfect score is 25. Points will be awarded based on completeness of information and ease of use. Up to 3 bonus points will be awarded for inclusion of downloadable press packets (1 for its existence, 1 for photos, 1 for including the show logo).
Ten points will be subtracted from the final score if the information on the site is obsolete, and all points will be removed if the website is more than one production out of date.
The point of this excercise is information, not to punish anyone, or to show that some company rocks while another doesn't. A theatre's website should be considered mission-critical - it is the one public relations outlet that the company have full control over. I'm not "accusing" anyone, and it's not meant as an attack. It's an assessment of the current state of communications on the Theatre Scene.
Comments, as always, are welcome, but try to keep it polite, and try to be helpful. "It sucks" isn't a useful observation: "I can't read purple letters on a blue backround," however, is.