When Theatre Forward needed a new website, our dear friends at Actors Theatre pointed them in our direction. We were immediately on board when we discovered who they were and what they promoted. And when we say on board, we actually boarded a plane to go meet these awesome folks in New York City.
Through almost an entire day of stakeholder meetings, we really got to know these passionate people. Theatre Forward’s mission is to advance nonprofit theatre and its communities. They achieve this mission by providing funding and other resources to the country’s leading nonprofit theatres, like Actor’s Theatre.
Our primary objective for the site was to integrate the funding focus areas under the larger Theatre Forward brand, aiming to inspire financial contribution and participation in its cause. Our goals were:
- To increase the amount of corporate, individual and foundation supporters.
- To improve the user experience of the Save my Seat functionality, achieved by building a custom application.
- To increase engagement and awareness, positioning them as the go-to for philanthropic, art-related news and promotion.
Formerly known as National Corporate Theatre Fund, the organization had decided to rebrand and combine a fragmented portfolio of fundraising efforts. This consolidation was aimed at strengthening brand awareness in several different areas: discount ticket sales, theatre support, theatre education and theatre enthusiast events. We were tasked with the web implementation of this rebrand working with New York City based PluPerfect.
A New Brand
Visually, we looked to communicate movement and impact. We believed the design and user experience should create a sense of innovation and passion within the user, showcasing their forward-thinking influence.
It’s all about movement – propelling the industry in the right direction. Giving the website the same consistent message was all in the details.
Movement with Code Animation
One element that we added a flourish of movement to was the button hover states. Move your cursor over any button on the site and the background pushes to the right. This fun bit of animation not only adds visual interest to the site, but it reinforces the brand’s central focus.
To implement these button states we took advantage of hover.css (link: http://ianlunn.github.io/Hover/), a robust, open source library for hover states. We chose this library because it is easy to implement and supports LESS mixins (our CSS preprocessor of choice). After installing the library, creating these effects was as easy as defining our button and adding the animation mixin.
How to Support Theatre
To work toward our goal of increasing awareness and support, we wanted to tell the story of the impact of this organization in a compelling way. In the What We Do section of the website we created a magazine-style layout that highlights their initiatives and successes. Using large images of the theatres and quotes from people involved in the projects funded by Theatre Forward gives a clear view into the use of donations.
Another way we continued our story-telling approach throughout the site was to replace traditional page titles with sentences that set the tone for the page. For instance when you land on the support page, instead of repeating the button you just clicked we immediately say, “Contributions to Theatre Forward directly support the work of our network of the leading nonprofit theatres across the country”. This small change helps visitors get a more personable understanding of the page’s purpose.
“Working with VIA Studio was a wonderful experience. From the beginning, they were invested in getting to know our new brand and that made all the difference. They were especially dedicated to the user experience and implementation of our Save My Seat program.” – Rebecca Black
Save My Seat
Another way Theatre Forward raises money for their work is through their corporate discount ticket sales program, Save My Seat. In our early research we noted that competition in the discount ticket sales space is dense. We needed to position them as a progressive force. Theatre Forward’s Save My Seat ticket program gives patrons and the employees of their supporting companies access and discounts to Broadway, Off-Broadway and regional theatre tickets. Managing discount tickets in their previous system was a slow, laborious process. One of the goals of the project was to make managing discount ticket data an easier process for them internally.
We were able to work closely with one of Theatre Forward’s partners, TheatreMania, who provided data services. Working with TheatreMania’s API, we developed a custom WordPress plugin to automate the majority of the discount ticket data management, saving Theatre Forward tons of time.