Principles & Values

After a week of exploring, here are the 10 guiding principles the Engine29 Garage Team used in redesigning the community-theater site:

  1. ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE: The current site is designed so that Cleveland.com content dominates the conversation and thus undercuts the site’s purpose: engaging the community theater scene. Sharing of stories and other content should be made easier. This is a conversation, NOT a form of traditional news delivery.
  2. OFFER INCENTIVES: The redesign needs to offer more incentives for theaters and audiences to participate, perhaps via contests, games and polls. Content from community theaters and bloggers needs greater visibility. Services important to the community, like the publication of audition notices, should be given prominence.
  3. CREATE A HIERARCHY: The site needs a cleaner, less cluttered look, with content organized more logically, according to a clear hierarchy. The site should be more dynamic and fluid so that users will want to return on a more frequent basis.
  4. ADD MORE MULTIMEDIA: Videos, podcasts, photo galleries and other multimedia content should be increased and given a bigger presence on the site. Better use of graphics will make the site seem less text-heavy.
  5. INTEGRATE SOCIAL MEDIA: Theaters’ Facebook and Twitter feeds should be integrated on to the site and given greater visibility.
  6. ADD/IMPROVE CONTENT: Functional content, such as a clickable calendar and audition notices, drives traffic. Adding a Google Maps feature will allow readers to more easily find theater locations and nearby restaurants and other amenities. Listings for children’s shows, a vibrant part of the community theater scene and in many instances among the most attended, should be added. Also, the site should provide unique content unavailable elsewhere, such as the “Cleveland Theater Memories” feature, which allows people to share memories of great performances, shows and other theatrical experiences.
  7. ADD LINKS: Dining out and nightlife are frequently part of the theater experience, and so the site should offer prominent links to Plain Dealer restaurant and bar guides elsewhere on the Cleveland.com site.
  8. BUILD THE COMMUNITY: Offer context by emphasizing community theaters’ relationship to the larger community, i.e., professional theaters, and include their community outreach and educational programs. Important and distinct groups such as college and high school theater programs also should be highlighted. This will help broaden the site’s potential audience to include theater educators, students and their families.
  9. PROMOTE TRANSPARENCY AND BALANCE: Users must know where the content is coming from. Curation is important to reduce information overload.
  10. EMPHASIZE LEGACY: Cleveland and the northeast Ohio region traditionally have been known for classical music and rock but theater has had an equally important impact/influence, and the site aims to promote that significance.