nytheatre.com is different
March 7, 2012
On Monday, we implemented a new version of nytheatre.com. Today I want to write about the changes we’ve made to the site, and why we made them.
We had two goals in developing nytheatre.com 4.0: streamline and modernize. We’re trying to buck a couple of trends on the web that disturb us:
- we don’t want to make you have to click through page after page to read what you want (the main reason sites do that is to make you look at more advertising)
- we don’t want you to have to wade through a distracting maze of media, boxes, ads, etc. all vying for your attention–we want you to see what you came to see
We’ve eliminated some features. The listings of what’s playing today and tomorrow have been taken down, along with the separate venue pages and seating charts and a few of the Now Playing listing categories. We’ve not done this capriciously. The new design of nytheatre.com reflects both long-term trends in our readership and the genuinely transformative changes that have occurred on the internet during the past several years.
When we started nytheatre.com in 1996, there were few alternative sources on the internet for the content we provided. For example, individual venues, productions and theater companies didn’t have their own websites 15 years ago. Now they all do, along with strong presences on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere in the social networking world. So the need for us to tell readers about venues and how to get to them or to include extensive details about current shows–which was highly necessary when we made nytheatre.com 1.0–is simply not there anymore. Our approach at nytheatre.com has always been to focus on what’s needed rather than offering something that duplicates another service. That’s why today we include more and more links to ticketing sites, company and show websites, Facebook, YouTube, etc., on our show pages.
One challenge we’re addressing in our site redesign is the strange but true fact that gathering data from producers, publicists and ticketing companies has become more, rather than less, cumbersome in the past several years. Schedules, ticket prices and other items related to individual shows are much more fluid than they used to be (for example, when we launched nytheatre.com, you could pretty much depend on Broadway shows all having the same schedule; now there’s enormous variation not just between shows but even week to week for a single show). We’ve become increasingly aware that some of the detailed info our readers get from our site may not be accurate, and that’s distressing. So we’ve decided to omit some features from nytheatre.com and, again with lots of hyperlinks, enable our readers to get up-to-date info from the source rather than post something that’s misleading or incorrect.
We monitor how our site is used thoroughly. None of the decisions we made about changing what’s on nytheatre.com has been taken lightly. We understand that every page on nytheatre.com has probably been useful to some people, but our commitment has to be to providing the features that are most useful to the largest portion of our readership on a regular basis.
Which brings me to my final and most important point. The key outcome of streamlining and modernizing nytheatre.com is to give us–a tiny organization with just one paid full-time employee (yours truly)–more time to provide valuable and innovative services to our community. Our latest project, Indie Theater Now, is an important part of our strategy to do just that. Over the next few months, as we continue growing Indie Theater Now, we’ll also be integrating it more tightly with nytheatre.com, to create a nexus for discovery and exploration of contemporary American drama and performance.
nytheatre.com, a program of a nonprofit corporation, is a free public service and it’s important for us to hear from the public about what we’re doing. The intent of this blog post has been to provide complete transparency to our constituencies–the theatre community in NYC and beyond, especially independent theater artists; and people who love, care about, attend and support theater. Your feedback and comments are not only welcome but necessary. Please take some time to look at our new version of nytheatre.com, and let me know what you think!