Jobsite Theater, the resident theater company of the Shimberg Playhouse at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, needed to update their website to be easily accessible for its growing 40-65 year-old audience, as well as be flexible enough to appeal to its base of 25-40 year-olds who are just as inclined to visit via their tablets/phones. To reflect the company’s growth in production scale, the site also needed to mirror some of the company’s own technical advances online without over-saturating the user with dated information.
I designed and rebuilt Jobsite’s website on WordPress for several reasons, including:
- the best range of extensibility on a low, not-for-profit budget;
- the ability for other company members to contribute without the need for 24-7 support; and
- to incorporate many features that were heretofore unavailable to the company online.
Since then, the 250 page site has grown to over 400 pages, reaching over 27,000 distinct sessions per year.
One of the challenges to JobsiteTheater.org is to establish the company’s overall brand, while also promoting the brands of each Jobsite production.
To promote a show’s brand, I create a micro-site for it, using that show’s artwork as the base flavor, and then letting its content evoke the show’s spirit and meaning to sell the show to prospective patrons.
In 2016, I began incorporating film onto the home page to promote each show. I specifically targeted the front page banner, so that when the video became available, I could immediately give visitors the slightest taste of what it’s like to see this show, right now, from a view closer than the front seat.
Not only does this help promote Jobsite’s unique 100-seat black-box theatre feeling, but it conveys what you can expect when you come and see this show.
Breaking the Ceiling
For several years, Jobsite had hit a ceiling with selling it’s most valuable product – season tickets. No matter what they tried, they simply couldn’t get over a hump. Likewise, since Jobsite does not have a permanent store front, making it hard to sell additional merchandise.
In 2016, I installed a WooCommerce shopping cart and imported Jobsite’s current merchandise inventory, extending it with the possibility to sell tickets to events.
Once the shopping cart launched, Jobsite’s season-ticket sales spiked 30%, breaking through that ceiling and selling out opening weekends for every show in their mainstage season.
Not only does pre-selling these shows offer a financial security, but it improves Jobsite’s production quality, because they can better forecast each production’s budget.
Along with the new ability to pre-sell tickets to other Jobsite events (like their Gala), Jobsite’s merchandise inventory (some of which hasn’t sold for years) experienced a 600% increase, prompting the company to reevaluate their new branches of revenue.
Prior to the rebuild, the Artistic Director maintained a company blog via a free platform, primarily where he could discuss shows behind the scenes, conduct artist interviews and occasionally let other artists contribute directly. While helpful, the blog was severely restricted in what it could contain, but furthermore, it was located on a domain separate from Jobsite’s main brand and domain.
To consolidate the user experience, as well as let the Artistic Director contribute personally to the site, I imported, streamlined and embedded the blog into JobsiteTheater.org.