Kaysta

ABT has a new website!

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Posted (edited)

Most of us are probably pretty savvy about such things. What baffles me is that ABT wouldn't do what it takes to have a clearer, more inviting and better functioning site for those who aren't as knowledgeable or highly motivated. It's just no way to try to build an audience.

Edited by nanushka

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1 hour ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

After years of theater going I rarely use websites to purchase tickets.  I usually go to the venue, 99% of the cases within the very same day of the performance.  They all usually offer a variety of deals-(rush tickets...student tickets...standing up tickets...discounts etc).. On winter I scored a $15 rush ticket to see Placido Domingo in Nabucco the very day of the performance...right in orchestra. If I have to relay on online tickets, I then go to the venue website-(as with the upcoming Mariinsky Bayaderes). 

 

You should bear in mind that your experience is not typical. According to the most recent demographic survey by the Broadway League, 46% of the survey's respondents purchased their Broadway tickets online. (It was 41% three years earlier.) Granted, 63% of the Broadway audience are classified as tourists, meaning that they don't live in New York City or its suburbs. I doubt the composition of ABT's audience is similar, and it may be easier for them to go to the box office in person than it is for the Broadway "tourist." Nevertheless, to overlook the importance of online ticket sales is foolhardy for any arts organization.

 

Since I live very far away, I nearly always purchase ABT tickets online. I don't find the Met site particularly simple to use, and ABT tickets aren't exactly a priority there. It's not that easy to move from information about the cast you want, to purchasing tickets for that date. ABT really ought to help make it as simple as possible, because as nanushka says, other people may not be as motivated to buy and may give up. Nearly all studies of online "shopping cart abandonment" put the rate over 60%, and many studies put the rate at about 75%. Again, I don't know what the rates are for theater ticket sales, but it seems to me that if the risk of a customer not completing an online purchase is so great, a website should be designed to ensure that user frustration is not the reason a visitor gives up and closes a browser window without buying a ticket.

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Posted (edited)

It's also not just about the specific transaction of selling tickets –– or it doesn't need to be.

 

As a comparison, NYCB's website is a pleasure to use and I have on more than one occasion spent time just browsing around, reading repertoire information, checking out dancers' profiles, watching videos, etc. This is a major part of how an arts organization can get people more interested and engaged in the product.

 

Obviously, NYCB has a much larger marketing budget than ABT. But it's also about making the best use of what you've got, and not building a format that simply doesn't work well for the user.

 

It's ridiculous, for instance, that on the "Dancers" part of the new home page one has to scroll down through all those very large photos, and one can't even see the individual dancers' names without hovering over each photo.

 

(And yes, one can still get back to the old, more user-friendly format of the complete site. But that's not obvious to an unfamiliar visitor.)

 

Edited by nanushka

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Also I think it's a question of professionalism. This kind of sloppiness doesn't speak well for the company. They can't even get their programs right. They have a lot of wealthy successful people on their Board, a large staff and what seems like constant fundraising efforts. It's an embarrassment.

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It has always bothered me that there is no catalog or listing of their Repertory.

The company has such an impressive legacy and yet the Company History section

is one page and one picture from 1947. Nice to see Jerome Robbins though!

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9 minutes ago, Balanchinomane said:

It has always bothered me that there is no catalog or listing of their Repertory.

The company has such an impressive legacy and yet the Company History section

is one page and one picture from 1947. Nice to see Jerome Robbins though!

 

There is one, actually. But it's very hard to find.

 

Under "Education," go to "Library," then "Repertory Archive."

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8 minutes ago, Balanchinomane said:

It has always bothered me that there is no catalog or listing of their Repertory.

The company has such an impressive legacy and yet the Company History section

is one page and one picture from 1947. Nice to see Jerome Robbins though!

 

Oh, they have one -- it's just impossible to find it! Go here:http://www.abt.org/education/archive/index.html

 

 

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Posted (edited)

What genius sat there one day and thought, "Hmm, a place called Library is the obvious place where our website visitors would go to find a listing of all the ballets we perform"? (In a menu of tiny grey type at the top of the "Education and Training" page, no less.)

Edited by nanushka

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47 minutes ago, Olga said:

Also I think it's a question of professionalism. This kind of sloppiness doesn't speak well for the company. They can't even get their programs right. They have a lot of wealthy successful people on their Board, a large staff and what seems like constant fundraising efforts. It's an embarrassment.

 

What Olga said. 

 

Is it in no one's remit to proofread the programs and fact check the program notes? Into whose bailiwick does the website fall? (NYCB has staff dedicated to both digital content and information technology.)

 

 

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Oh, thank you! Never knew it was there. Now I have a new bookmark.

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11 minutes ago, nanushka said:

What genius sat there one day and thought, "Hmm, a place called Library is the obvious place where our website visitors would go to find a listing of all the ballets we perform"? (In a menu of tiny grey type at the top of the "Education and Training" page, no less.)

 

The world is awash in front-end web developers whose whole raison d'être is to help their clients build logical, engaging, and easy to navigate websites. 

 

I heard a member of the NY Philharmonic's Digital and Strategic Initiatives staff speak at a seminar a while back, and was mighty impressed by how much thought and energy the organization puts into its digital presence. 

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I think we should rename this topic: ABT has a new website and IT STINKS

 

:lol:

 

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18 minutes ago, Balanchinomane said:

Oh, thank you! Never knew it was there. Now I have a new bookmark.

 

PS: note that you can sort the repertory list by work, choreographer, or composer. That is a really good thing and I hope it survives the redesign when it trickles down to the Library pages.

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OMG (as the kids say.) They do have Dolin's Pas de Quatre. I would cast Part, Vishneva,

Abrera, and Lane. Oops, too late.

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4 hours ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

 

After years of theater going I rarely use websites to purchase tickets.  I usually go to the venue, 99% of the cases within the very same day of the performance.  They all usually offer a variety of deals-(rush tickets...student tickets...standing up tickets...discounts etc).. On winter I scored a $15 rush ticket to see Placido Domingo in Nabucco the very day of the performance...right in orchestra. If I have to relay on online tickets, I then go to the venue website-(as with the upcoming Mariinsky Bayaderes). 

 

Well guess what just because you don't use them doesn't mean it's not a necessary part of any company nowadays because most people do buy their tickets online. 

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, nanushka said:

What genius sat there one day and thought, "Hmm, a place called Library is the obvious place where our website visitors would go to find a listing of all the ballets we perform"? (In a menu of tiny grey type at the top of the "Education and Training" page, no less.)

 

Thanks for the laugh, Nanushka.  ;)

Website category names and menu listings are often contentious - one person's 'logical' category name may be completely misunderstood by another user, or it may simply not be intriguing enough for anyone to care to explore that link. I've witnessed many heated internal company discussions about menu categories over the years, but there's nothing like feedback from your audience - a well run company adjusts to their user/audience's needs fairly quickly.

The San Francisco Ballet website was revamped not all that long ago to favor mobile devices, and it uses a menu system that was designed with mobile users in mind. But it isn't yet as user friendly as it could be, and it's taken a number of months for some of the website organization issues to be resolved (or not), imo. One thing SFB gets right is online ticket sales - I've never run into problems purchasing tickets that I can recall. Once the subscription drive period has passed, and tickets are available to the general public, it is an easy process to view the different sections of the opera house and see which seats are still available for a particular performance date, and what the cost is for each seat. Also, if one is a subscriber, and the subscriber's discount applies to any tickets one orders, then logging into the website and purchasing tickets remains seamless - the discount is automatically applied to anything being viewed (not only when viewing the "cart" at checkout).

Edited by pherank

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Posted (edited)

5 hours ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

 

After years of theater going I rarely use websites to purchase tickets.  I usually go to the venue, 99% of the cases within the very same day of the performance.  They all usually offer a variety of deals-(rush tickets...student tickets...standing up tickets...discounts etc).. On winter I scored a $15 rush ticket to see Placido Domingo in Nabucco the very day of the performance...right in orchestra. If I have to relay on online tickets, I then go to the venue website-(as with the upcoming Mariinsky Bayaderes). 

As far as I know, pretty much everyone under 60 prefers to buy tickets online. 

Edited by alexL

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Cubanmiamiboy mentioned the special deals that are often available at venues on the day of performance, and that is something that does not seem to appear often online. It's a shame actually that special sales are not run for "tomorrow's performance" or "same day" savings, although many large companies will offer special pricing for particular performances.

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I definitely always buy my tickets online. With most companies you can now choose the exact seat you want and sometimes they give a view of the stage from the seat. It is very helpful. I am slightly claustrophobic, so I always try to sit on an aisle and that way I am also assured of at least one arm rest plus less feelings of being cramped between people. To get a good aisle seat that isn't way off to the side you have to buy as soon as tickets go on sale on the website. There are also certain opera or ballet stars where I would prefer to sit closer, some where I would sit farther away. In his heyday (1980s, 90s) and even as late as maybe 2010 when Domingo was still singing tenor (instead of now singing as a VERY mediocre baritone) I would have paid top price to make sure I have a seat exactly where I want to sit. Now if I know Domingo is singing I would buy a seat in the nose bleed section if I didn't actually run the other way!

 

I am amazed how much cheaper ballet tickets are compared to opera tickets, so parterre box which is painful to buy for opera is amazingly cheap for ABT shows. So if I can go online and buy a parterre seat in the front row of a box (the seats behind the front row appear to be for people with no legs) I will buy it, so that I don't get stuck with a lousy seat at the last minute.

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Their website brings back (oh so fond) memories of a former landlord who refused to fix most anything or just took the band-aid approach. She thought if she just slapped a fresh coat of (crappy) paint over something her tenants would consider it "fixed". The cracked or water-damaged walls were still there just glossed over. Did ABT really think people wouldn't notice (or care)? Could they only afford to have its home page upgraded? 

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Posted (edited)

I just noticed, on the bottom of the new homepage, that they credit a company called Infor with the design.

 

Assuming this is the same organization, they don't seem to specialize in website design:

 

http://www.infor.com/

 

They have a lot of high-profile clients, but I don't see any from the arts world. I think it can actually be advantageous to use a firm that doesn't usually work in the arts (they can bring a fresh perspective), but one has to wonder how ABT arrived at the decision to use them. And what tech firm in good faith could allow ABT to function with their weird hybrid website? My first thought was "Who on ABT's board has a connection to Infor?" This may be unfair; it's just the first thing that crossed my mind.

 

There are far smaller performing arts organizations that have decent-looking, mobile-responsive website. ABT's website isn't even very deep, content-wise, so a redesign would seem minimal compared to many organizations. Maybe I'm missing something, though...

 

And with regard to the menu titles, they certainly reflect a dated approach. They don't focus at all on the customer experience.

 

Edited to add: The highlight of this morning's experience of viewing ABT's website was when the banner image about the fall season (on the 1998 home page) began fading in and out on a loop. This was on mobile...

Edited by fondoffouettes

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7 hours ago, canbelto said:

 

Well guess what just because you don't use them doesn't mean it's not a necessary part of any company nowadays because most people do buy their tickets online. 

 

Oh...no doubt about personal preferences.  I was just sharing my own.  ;-)

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10 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

 

They have a lot of high-profile clients, but I don't see any from the arts world. I think it can actually be advantageous to use a firm that doesn't usually work in the arts (they can bring a fresh perspective), but one has to wonder how ABT arrived at the decision to use them. And what tech firm in good faith could allow ABT to function with their weird hybrid website? My first thought was "Who on ABT's board has a connection to Infor?" This may be unfair; it's just the first thing that crossed my mind.

 

 

That was my first thought too.  I quickly checked ABT's Board of Trustees against Infor's Executive Team: there's no direct relationship - i.e., no one on ABT's Board is also on Infor's Executive Team. That doesn't mean there isn't a connection of some sort. And even if there is a connection, it could be completely innocent: I can easily imagine an ABT Trustee saying "Oh, my firm works with Infor and they've served us really well -- I'll have someone on their team call you." That kind of thing needn't be particularly nefarious -- although a thoughtful Trustee might have said "Hmmm ... I'm going to reach out to my IT folks and ask them if there's a firm with a track record working with arts organizations."

 

That being said, ABT -- like all organizations -- needs more than front-end web design, and Infor may well have been charged with developing a whole suite of integrated enterprise systems for the organization: everything from accounting to wardrobe management to audience data analysis.

 

Also, ABT could be a lousy client in terms of putting resources behind the project or even deciding what it really wants (and we've all had those clients ...)

 

fondoffouettes' observation that ABT's website shouldn't require much by way of design to be attractive and responsive seems on the mark: if they don't need a ticket sales back end, they could practically do it with Squarespace.

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