Having a central online presence is not only useful for your audience, it’s an important way to legitimize your company, or your work as an artist. Websites play a huge role in the visibility of you and your company within the performing arts, and also give potential audiences an insight to what you do. Websites have become more necessary than ever for every type of business, and this holds true for even the smallest of theatre companies. The good news is, it’s never been easier to get a website of your own.
The benefits of having a website are varied, and the more you put into it the more you can get out of it. Having a website is about more than being a fancy contact page. It can be a place to showcase fun content and engage with your audience. People will easily be able to find you and your work without having to sift through Google searches to find your social media or reviews. You’ll be able to host images, videos, press kits, and more, which all come together to tell your story in one easily navigable online location. You can also create your own online content (interviews, videos, blog posts) to to deepen or broaden the relationship between you and your audience. (see: Social Design)
Web design and development is one of the fastest growing tech industries, and from the freelance world to established firms it’s very easy to find a developer that can build you a robust, eye-catching website.
However, hiring a web developer can be very expensive. For a multi page site you’re looking at at least $3000-$5000 for design and build, possibly more. Contracting out the creation of your website will require you to convey a clear vision to your designer, it will require coordination, planning, and meetings. The building of a website does not happen overnight.
But when you hire someone, you can have peace of mind that the task is being handled by a professional, and that you won’t need to take time out of your own day to learn to do it yourself.
A great way to find a web designer, outside of a Google search, is to think of your favourite websites from companies based in your city, and see if they list the web design company at the bottom of the page. And to keep costs down, you can look for a developer at the beginning of their career. Training companies like Toronto’s HackerYou and Bitmaker turn out hundreds of new developers every year. Find their graduates on their sites, or contact them for referrals.
If cost is a chief concern, you can always consider making your website yourself. Having a basic understanding of HTML and CSS can certainly help, especially if you want to go beyond templates, but is no longer necessary for making a great site. Many people have built excellent websites using online services that specialize in making the process as simple as possible. All of these website builders have their own individual pros and cons, costs, and options, so make sure to do your research, have a look at their examples, and find one that suits your needs.
Popular website builders:
There are two types of websites you can choose from, depending on who you are and what you do. Under each category we have put together a list of things to include on your site. Click the type of site that works best for you!
A website is simply a set of files that are hosted on the internet. Beyond the actual content of your website (the words, the images, the links, etc.) you need two more things before you are finished:
Note that if you decide to build your website using a website builder, they will often include domain name registration and web hosting in their packages.
Accessibility is a major factor in modern web development. Websites, like buildings, should be places that are navigable by everyone, regardless of ability Learn more about Accessible Websites and Documents and make sure you aren’t leaving any of your audience behind.
Responsive design refers to the fact that people access websites from multiple devices, all with different screen sizes and resolutions. To have your website stand out, it has to look good on any screen, whether it’s a smartphone, a laptop, or a widescreen monitor.
Again, speak to your web designer about the responsiveness of your site. Responsive design increases the cost of development, because it essentially means building multiple versions of your website for different screen sizes, so take that into consideration.
Modern website builders will offer responsive design options as well.
As you continue to work and develop new stuff, you want to make sure that your site is up to date. Again, think about who is viewing your site; possibly potential employers, audience members, or producers looking to hire you. If your site isn’t up to date, they may think that you are actively producing work, have left the industry, etc. People only return to a website when there’s something new to see, so maintaining and updating your website has to become a part of your regular routine.
Here are some theatre company websites that we love the look of, all with different design philosophies. In some cases these are one or two person operations. Remember, you don’t have to be a big company to have a nice looking and functional website.
- Pencil Kit Productions
- The Howland Company Theatre
- PARADIGM productions - The Empire
- Shakespeare in the Ruff
- The Red Light District
- Small Wooden Shoe
- Why Not Theatre
- The Amy Project
- Pandemic Theatre