Last week we found out that Hoffi’s proposal to design and develop a destination website for the National Theatre Wales had been accepted. Now that we’ve had time to return to earth following the great news, we wanted to come back to this community to begin to realise the connection between it’s members and the new destination website for the theatre.
The website will ultimately form a home; a place where events, productions and the theatre can be promoted.

Having said that, it’s not a closed concept. Instead it would be useful to learn how members of this community, which is already established, would use the website. We’ve already had some positive feedback from a previous forum post, but now is our chance to delve further.

We would appreciate your input, so when you have a few minutes free why not write a short synopsis of what you would like the National Theatre Wales website to be, and be as creative as possible.

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Congratulations Hoffi guys on being appointed National Theatre Wales web designers. If you would like to start a new version of this forum to explore ideas as the plans develop, or simply update your original post, we can feature it on the front page. Just drop me a message to let me know. Meanwhile, anyone who has opinions on our web development - do post them here.

Michael, thanks for your really useful thoughts. One comment to put your mind at ease; we absolutely want to make the NTW website, and the social network, a place where audiences feel at home as well as artists and theatre professionals. However, until we announce the programme in November, we aren't really pushing out to potential audiences so much. So don't worry if you are largely in a community of artists for now; it's a glorious, inspirational community, and I'm sure once the potential audiences start arriving everyone will work to make them welcome and involved. And soon they will be the majority!
Thanks for your comments John, I’m sure as the initial plan develops we will have a blueprint for the National Theatre Wales website, which can be included within the forums, for suggestions and feedback.

In the meantime it would be fantastic to see this community provide general comments, ideas and aspirations. Thanks to Michael for starting the ball rolling with these.
Andrew. If you'd like to update the blog post main copy, I can feature it on the front page. J
Hi Andrew and yes, congratulations!

I think it's very important not to ignore the massive possibility of using the NTW website to create an interactive theatre experience i.e whether it's simply social networking or using it as the base for an ARG (that would ultimately lead us to an NTW production). Have you guys had any experiences of producing ARGs? I've put a little blurb about it on a previous forum that might be of interest to you.

So, in terms of what the website would need, having the ability to upload photos, videos and text/blog (which is already here) would be awesome.
What's ARG? (why use something you don't define - are we supposed to go and find what you mean for ourselves)
ARG is an acronym for Alternative Reality Gaming. Bethan has wrote an interesting article on the subject here:
Congratulations. NWT have made a good choice.

Expectations will vary and you've given no clue as to what the brief is, so most suggestions will be off the mark. Here are some suggestions
- The public website should be an International Showcase of Welsh Theatre (what defines 'Welsh' theatre. What sets it apart. Who are the people / companies / shows that best illustrate this, and performances we all remember (use Video archives. These are relatively easy to provide). Ultimately the site must answer the questions "What is Welsh Theatre" and "Where can we see more of this" - is this just 'in Wales' or anywhere where Welsh theatre is being performed)
- Theatre is about a live audience. The aim of the public site is principally to get more people to live performances and/or engaged with Theatre in Wales. Upcoming shows and online bookings are the main reason to visit this site. Showcase these shows and make the booking easy!
- Use new media & Web2.0 tools to 'promote' performances, but remember these are not a replacement to live shows.
- Use video trailors of dress rehersals, actors interviews, etc. to 'sell the shows'
- Encourage 'sharing' across all social networks to get more people attending. Make it easy for any user to create a group list of their friends who might want to come (this could be via Facebook Connect or as a saved list, plus 'new emails and Twitter ID as required). Allow users to send event notices to these lists and for the recipents to accept / decline (Facebook events does this well)
- Create 'packages' that users can buy (once you've got the public on the site, get them to buy something. Better still get them to buy an entire package of shows!).
- Include 'suggestions' as Amazon does (people who brought this also purchased... NB this could be DVDs, CDs, T-Shirts, Books, etc. Remember the public site is mostly a SHOP!)
- Link the public to Profiles of the people (with Brief bios, Videos, galleries, podcasts for both production staff and the performers - this could be where the 'community' site adds value; but don't expect the public to join the community - most will not).
- Encourage users to post reviews on any / all of the social networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) The more exposure you get the better!
- Provide a facility that allows the audience to order half time drinks via Twitter (great way to get their twitter account details!)

Hope this helps ;-)
Thanks for these suggestions Greg. Our take is very much as you suggest - for the live event itself 'You had to be there', but the web environment can create a wide ranging context and community around those live events. I think there is an opportunity at the moment to really engage with how live and digital can complement each other, while emphasising their distinctiveness.

You ask about the brief. We have asked Hoffi to design a site that can do the key basics of informing people about shows and creative opportunities, including making it as easy as possible to book (a potential challenge as we will be working in many different venues and non-venues), to link as seemlessly and interactively as possible with this network, and to provide the kind of surrounding content and context for shows that you are talking about. All while maintaing a strong sense of the company's tone of voice - i.e as open and interactive as possible. I'm confident that they will come up with something special, and input here will be very useful.


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