Magazine article Stage Directions

Weaving a Great Web Site

Magazine article Stage Directions

Weaving a Great Web Site

Article excerpt

Five basic principles to guide you to success.

Successful websites offer content that is both useful and relevant. Fortunately, creating one that does both isn't a mysterious process. In fact, it boils down to five essential elements.

1. Have A Plan.

Begin by mapping out precisely what you intend to accomplish. Everything else-design, content, graphics-should proceed from these goals.

Ask yourself, "What information or services can we provide that patrons, current and potential, need?" These might include season productions and dates, background on each show, directions to the theater and how to become a volunteer or make a donation. More interactive services include taking ticket orders and handling requests or questions from patrons.

Separate the functions you intend to provide, and create a separate page for each. Then link these back to a home page directory (see below).

2. What Have You Got To Say?

A site can and should offer lots of information, but it should never seem complex to the visitor. Most are looking for something specific, such as production dates, how to order tickets, audition announcements or the location of your theater. The most important element on your home page should be a menu of clearly defined choices (e.g., "Now Playing," "Season Ticket Information," "Directions," "Our Mission," "Join Us") that leads the visitor to content-specific pages. The rest of the home page should be sparing in design and text, with one central graphic highlighting one current event.

3. Keep Design Simple.

Your website should have the same high quality of design you'd expect from a season brochure. Unfortunately, many theater sites are designed by technical people with little understanding of how to present or manage content. The result is a jumble of text and graphic elements. …

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