We hope you saw in last week’s newsletter that we’re in the midst of some exciting developments for our website. That’s generated some interest and questions. So we thought we’d take this opportunity to answer a few of them for you.
Why are we updating the website?
The SLT website was last fully updated some years ago, and as with all websites there’s a risk that it could become outdated in terms of functionality, accessibility and security. We need to make sure it continues to be relevant and responsive both to members and the wider community. It’s really important in helping us attract, sign up and keep members, and encouraging visitors to see what’s on and buy tickets as we reopen after lockdown.
What will be changing?
Most people won’t see this side of it, but we need to make the website easier for volunteers to maintain. At the moment they have to work with HTML, a design language, which needs specialist knowledge and can make relatively simple changes take a long time. Changing how this works will simplify updating for volunteers without in-depth web design experience.
Will the site look different?
We’re also taking the opportunity to review where things are placed on the site, to make it straightforward for every visitor to navigate and find what they need quickly. We also have to make sure it works for people who have some kind of sight disability. At the same time we will be integrating the SLT and Old Fire Station websites so that it’s a one-stop shop for visitors, whether they’re finding out about auditions or looking to hire a room.
Who is doing the work for us?
We are working with a specialist web design agency called Chaptr. They have lots of experience working with culture and arts organisations, and they bring all that knowledge with them. We asked two different service providers for tenders and weighed up both proposals against cost and benefit analysis. One was an independent freelancer and the other a more corporate organisation, Chaptr. You can find out more about them here.
Can we afford it right now?
We’ve been able to fund this website development as a result of a mixture of fruitful fundraising and generous donations, which have secured funding to pay for almost all of the work required, so this doesn’t adversely affect the theatre finances at this crucial time. (Just to reassure you, the theatre finances are still looking relatively healthy despite the challenges lockdown had brought.)
When will it go live?
Lots of work is already happening. But there is still a lot more do – not least to make sure the transition goes smoothly. So we think it will be ready for launch in June or July, but we’ll make sure everyone knows when it’s coming!