Notes

When designing a site, the first question should be, "why do we want a site?". I would assume that your intent would be to generate support and involvement of the community and sell tickets. The website can be essentially a bulletin board where things are posted, or it can generate a community. I assume that you would prefer the second.

This means that you need more and changing content. I'm sure there are lots of photos taken of rerearsals and events. There could be a "Happenings" page that would have a list of events. This would link to individual events with description and photos. It should be chatty. The writer should imagine a typical patron sitting across the room and write as they would talk to them. There should be someone hanging around the theater who would be anxious to do something like this.

All upcoming and archived plays should have a synopsis, reviews (if you have them) and DATES. Not just month, day, but also year. These should be interesting to read. Have someone who likes to photograph, take pictures of the actors, building the sets, the director, volunteers. These should be linked from the plays. Comments that would generate interest or empathy should be attached to the photos. I don't think you should have to searth for people to do these things, this is a chance to be creative, which is why many people are involved in the first place. But their work must be used and displayed. The website is the obvious place to do this.

I have added titles to all pages. This and CONTENT will get you listed in web browsers, which is why you need synopses(?) and other words on the pages. Text contained in a photo, does not count.

The way browsers work: No person from Google will look at your site, a machine does this. It copies every word (including page title) on your site. When I type in "Bellflower Theater" in the search window, their program goes through a billion pages and lists pages in order of relavance to those words. Most weight is given to page title, headings (H1, H2, etc.) and how rich the content is (how many times these words are used). I have included "Bellflower, CA" in the title of the home page. It adds to relavance and lets people know in Bellflower, Iowa that this is not their theater. There should also be some short welcome blurb on the Home page (content) that uses the words Bellflower, theater, play, and whatever other words that people are most likely to use in a search. Using a word more than once is good, but too many times and the browser may discount them as SPAM.

I also used a script for your email address. This will eliminate a lot of SPAM in you mail box. Don't post any email addresses without this code.

I changed the colors and layout of some pages. This was rather quick and I probably missed some links or some links might not work. I am submitting this because I would like to see your program thrive. Your webmaster can copy any or all of what I have done, or not. Or may just incorporate some of the things I have mentioned. These are 2 CSS style pages, the locations are shown in the HEADER. I have eliminated all Flash features. The links that have to be clicked twice can be frustrating and serve no purpose. There is a place for Flash and scripts, but they should make the site easier to use or in some way add value to the experience. I admit I don't know much about Flash or scripts. I have recently seen flash used in very effective ways, so may have to learn. You webmaster obviously knows more about these features than I.

Some of the copy on these various pages I picked up from the Internet, some I made up... it may not be accurate.

Possible additions: A Blog. If you have a person who likes to write (there should be several in a theater program), this person could keep a blog of the theater. Should be gossipy. What's going on, interviews with kids, players, how it is to direct, maintenance... whatever. A separate one for the youth board would be good and would generate more enthusiasm. There are free blog sites, which can be customized. I haven't done this, but it shouldn't be that hard. The more people who are heard or seen on the site, the more people feel that it is their site and the more of their relatives will come to see what they have done.

If I can be of any help, let me know.

Barry Witt




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