I’ve selected the website of a not-for-profit arts organization, the Village Light Opera Group, as the subject for my Web Design project this month. (My fiancee Kathy has been a member for some 20 years.)
The NYC-based group, formed in 1935, specializes in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas but also produces classic Broadway shows such as Oklahoma! and Fiddler on the Roof. Many performers have appeared in professional productions and have resumes with programs whose names you would recognize.
A screenshot of the group’s home page appears below:
The site appears structured around providing potential members with an easy way to pay dues or just to make donations to the cash-strapped organization. Those are important aims, but my thought was that the site might advance its members’ cause better if it provided more content around the group’s productions and other activities.
The site doesn’t convey the fun and excitement that goes in hand with putting on a show. The “past shows” page is just a slideshow of posters of programs that VLOG has done. (The slideshow also moves at an interminably slow pace, unfortunately, and users can’t control what they’re looking at.)
Members have loads of high-quality digital photos that could tell a compelling story about what they do. It goes without saying that embedded videos of musical numbers would vastly improve traffic.
The site also lacks the engagement aspects of social media, such as a blog or a page where the members can promote themselves and the shows they’ve appeared in.
The sad part of Gilbert and Sullivan companies is that this specialty form of theater is falling by the wayside across the country. Public taste for light opera has always been limited, so membership is falling at VLOG and other companies; indeed, light opera clubs at college are closing their doors — a bad omen for the future of the genre.
A livelier web presence could convey a broader and more engaging sense of what VLOG does, drawing more members and infusing fresh energy into its activities. My general strategy for the site is more visual and less text-driven, while retaining important functions such as payment links for membership and ticket sales. (Their logo with the name folded into a scale of musical notes is especially strong graphically.)
The end goal is to raise interest in participation in VLOG activities.