Organization is the name of the game
Phase One of the TCT redesign began with a significant and detailed site map. It was important to reorganize the theatre’s considerable content, helping the TCT team make choices about grouping information as well as decisions on what content needed to stay, what offered the most value and what was outdated or no longer necessary. This process was a huge but crucial step in building a clear and concise message for the theatre, and allowing their story, and their voice, to truly shine through.
Time to play
The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati wanted their new site to be far more visual, bursting with playful and powerful images. The theatre is celebrating 100 years, and has an enviable bank overflowing with images and artwork that speaks of a long and enchanting history. Fast forward to today, with three locations and myriad productions, tours, classes and academies, there is no shortage of visuals and videos to help tell their story. The goal, from a design perspective, was to let the artwork and images speak for themselves, and what they spoke of was magical. Compelling stories are what draw people into a site, Plank’s goal was to give users an irresistible playground to wander through and enjoy.
Capturing the playfulness of the theatre, and how it feels to be there, was used to create a unique and engaging user experience. The goal was to echo a person’s excitement and joy at visiting the theatre, and translate that enthusiasm to its online platforms.Examples include:
- TCT’s crown logo drops down and spins as the website is loading
- A curtain is raised revealing the website
- Interactive elements were added to anything that is clickable: such as a fun hover state of bouncing people
- Elements fade in and on scroll, expanding in a smooth and interesting way
All of these animations are interactive which keeps the visual experience interesting. Care and thought have been put into each movement and experience the user will have throughout the site.
As for colors, the purple and yellow in their branding was used wisely and carefully – the purple became the colour of the buttons, the yellow a stable background. The font was modernized and made easier to read with clear and rounded letters.
Also, newly created icons for things such as workshops and study guides are more visual and engaging. And the important “TCT on Tour “ shows has their own unique icon, displaying anywhere touring shows are visible on the site.
On with the show
Plank’s design approach is modular, giving TCT site administrators flexibility in choosing what visuals and information is displayed for each show – essentially giving them control over their story. Because TCT has multiple shows in different venues, as well as touring shows, administrators need to have the ability to customize each page.
Important buttons such as Book Tickets or Donate Now are displayed at all times on the site. Information such as location, performance dates, recommended ages, show length – essentially everything you would want to know about a show – are optional in show pages. This creates uniqueness between shows, depending on what TCT wants to highlight. Show pages can also include photos, videos, reviews, cast information, credits and show resources. And as each show comes to the end of its run, it gets archived and placed alongside other past shows. Again, considerable flexibility.
It’s worth noting once again that mobile-first was far from an afterthought. The mobile user experience for TCT is now clean and efficient, offering collapsible content as an effective solution to having too much information up front. Sections also move together, in many layers, and appropriate image sizes load, potentially reducing bandwidth. This requires considerable precision to ensure it works effectively and smoothly. As a final note on mobile-first: both mobile and desktop experiences are equally complex from a design and development perspective, but exceptionally worth it.
A note about accessibility
Accessibility is an important aspect of each and every website Plank designs. This includes visual impairment: making sure the font is large enough, the contrast strong enough and that for people using a screen reader, everything is legible. Accessibility standards also take into account people who can’t use a mouse, therefore buttons are clear, large enough and easy to click and access. Our sites are built using WCGA ‘AA” as well as WordPress coding guidelines and standards. Accessibility matters, always.