It's rare that we talk too much about the tech end of things here at BroadwayWorld.com. But we've made so many improvements over the last few weeks, and have gotten a slew of email kudos and questions, that I thought it'd be useful to compile a quick list of some of the more visible changes.
One of the challenges that we have, besides having the best editorial team in the business (a GOOD problem to have), is that we have a lot of content. We've been hard at work 'under the hood' to better optimize how to best get it all out to you.
We've made a ton of improvements on the back end of the site that I won't bore you with - like server and software upgrades. But here's some of the big and small changes to the public site:
* Since this project began in early January, we've got the average page size (the code) down by 33%. This has resulted in faster loading times, which are especially noticeable on older computers and mobile devices, but should be a little 'snappier' elsewhere too.
* Our homepage has been heavily tweaked as on both the back and front end. We've managed to reduce the size and to re-write a number of older elements to get its size and load time down by half. At the same time, we made a number of design and output tweaks to make our 300-500 stories a day less overwhelming when you hit the homepage. To that end, our top stories have been increased in size, with a larger top story and larger secondary stories with bigger images.
* All of our homepage news boxes (Feature Stories, Photo Coverage, Top News, More News and West End News) now feature 'infinite scrolling'. Basically, if you've got the time, you can now scroll back through several hundred stories reducing the risk that you will miss something.
* We've also introduced a major revamp to the lower half of the homepage, unveiling 'Around the Broadway World Today' - get it? Punny. This new feature, which I'm personally VERY excited about, automatically compiles the top stories from the past couple of days from ALL around the Broadway World, including all 150 US and International markets that the site covers. Want to know the top news from the West End, Los Angeles, Spain, or Off-Broadway? It's there.
* We simplified our left navigation bar, combining our popular CD, Book and Video databases into one major new site section, appropriately called CDs/Books/DVDs that brings together the latest news and a comprehensive database on all the bits of theatre that you can consume at home or on the go.
* On the right navigation bar, you will find easier and bigger access to some of the site's many exclusive features, including easy links to InDepth InterViews with Pat Cerasaro, Backstage with Richard Ridge, Chewing the Scenery with Randy Rainbow and Bruce Kimmel's Outside the Box. We've got a few more on the way too that I can NOT wait to share.
* All of our regional homepages have gotten a similar revamp and are faster loading and give all of our local editors more control over managing top stories. News stories will now appear faster as well, so look for these pages to be even more active (if you can believe it).
* Our show listings pages have gotten two major enhancements - glorious color visual cast pages like this one for ANNIE, and our Twitter Watch has undergone a major upgrade, now bringing in tweets for all your favorite shows - in real-time, like here.
* Last, but not least for the moment, we unveiled new Mega Stage Tubes, which are an enhanced version of BWW's Stage Tube feature. We were the first to start embedding third-party videos, and now we're offering 'Mega' versions as well that let you browse through more than a dozen videos, one at a time. The best part is that you can click from video to video WITHOUT the whole page reloading. It results in less page views for us, but we always prioritize the reader experience. Here's a fun one we ran yesterday in advance of the IN THE HEIGHTS concert, and if you enjoyed it as much as I did, you're clicking back through it all today.
* Ok, one more - BroadwayWorld.com correspondents will now appear on dedicated Citybuzz TV channels in 72,000 hotel rooms in New York and Chicago.
MUCH more to come and as always, thanks for reading!
Posted on: Thursday, February 14, 2013 @ 01:39 PM Posted by:Robert Diamond
I've always been a (happily) self-proclaimed geek myself, always with a dual passion for theatre and technology (thus, BroadwayWorld.com). As the new sites ramped up with content, and traffic, it quickly became evident that we had room for 1 more BWW site.
Today we've officially launched BWW Geeks World, timed to the 2013 International CES in Las Vegas, for which our new geek gurus are covering left, right and center with hundreds of articles about the newest in consumer tech.
The new site will cover the geeky end of home entertainment, mobile, social media and more -- basically featuring all of the many devices and services on which our readers will be consuming entertainment over the years to come. We launched the other sites because the world of theatre continues to open up and to intersect with other areas of the arts. Today, as we're seeing more productions filmed, more technology making its way to the stage - well, it's another perfect fit.
If you're a fan of technology, I'd like to personally invite you to also check out the new BWW Geeks World here, otherwise, stay tuned for a SLEW of very exciting BroadwayWorld additions and upgrades that are being cooked up here in the virtual kitchen as I type. The Spring is shaping up to be a great theatre season and our continued, unmatched coverage is full steam ahead!
BroadwayWorld.com, the largest theatre web site on the net, is pleased to announce the latest addition to its family of education centers with the launch of the BWW Student Center - Elementary School Edition, and the re-launch of BWW Classroom.
Modeled after BWW's College and High School Centers, the Elementary School Center features theatre related coverage of more than 1,000 K-9 schools nationwide, including such information as upcoming student productions, cast lists, photos, videos, ongoing stories featuring individual schools, and much more.
To visit the BWW Classroom, click here. To visit the new BWW Student Center - Elementary School Edition, click here.
In addition, the re-launch of BWW Classroom welcomes the return of the site's entertaining, informative behind-the-scenes video series, Stage Magic. The series includes exclusive features on WICKED, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and more, with many new episodes slated for 2013. Also new to BWW Classroom will be an ever-expanding selection of interactive study guides for Broadway and touring shows, presented by content partner StageNotes.net. These expertly composed resources will entertain, educate, and foster greater comprehension, and appreciation of stage productions for students, educators, and general show goers.
"Arts education is one of the things that we're most passionate about here at BWW" said CEO Robert Diamond "and we couldn't be more excited to launch these new additions to the web site, as well as introduce new content by the equally passionate StageNotes.net and CampBroadway.com".
"StageNotes® has been publishing authorized study guides for Broadway shows for over 10 years," says Lauren Sagnella, content manager for StageNotes.net. "We are excited to work with BroadwayWorld.com to help make this enriching content readily available to parents and educators.
"For nearly two decades, Camp Broadway® has been providing the authentic Broadway experience to children ages 8-17," says Melissa Caolo, Executive Director. "We are proud to collaborate with StageNotes.net and BroadwayWorld.com in presenting and promoting the theatres performing arts to audiences of all ages. By working together we can help Broadway retain a vital and relevant artform.
In 2010, BroadwayWorld.com launched its BWW Student Center - College Edition which features fully detailed information on more than 350 Universities, and over 2,500 upcoming student productions. In 2011, the BWW Student Center - High School Edition launched to include upcoming show listings for more than 1500 high schools nationwide. The Student Center also features a complete database of every University across the United States that offers performing arts programs, including searchable degrees, well-known alumni, web sites, social networking and more.
Across all of the student centers, schools can register for 'enhanced' listings on the site - adding in photos, cast lists, videos, links and more. Productions that take advantage of this will receive highlights on our listing pages, extra editorial mentions and potential spotlight features.
BroadwayWorld is the largest theatre site on the Internet covering Broadway, the West End and beyond to 100 US cities, and 35 countries worldwide. With over 3.5 million monthly visitors, BroadwayWorld delivers complete up-to-the-minute Broadway, off-Broadway, and regional theatre news, in-depth interviews, extraordinary photo coverage, entertaining video features, lively message boards, ticket discounts, reviews, and more.
About Camp Broadway and Stagenotes.net
Founded in 1995, Camp Broadway® has worked at the intersection of entertainment and education to become the industry leader in theatre arts youth programming, special events and educational publishing. The company serves the Broadway industry by being an authorized channel for families, schools and social organizations that believe in the essential value of the arts as a means of life-long learning. In 2000, Camp Broadway LLC introduced StageNotes®: A Field Guide for Teachers, a study guide series that features standards-based activities and discussion questions for dozens of Broadway shows from classic musicals such as 42nd Street and Kiss Me Kate to contemporary works including Wicked, Legally Blonde, In The Heights, Billy Elliot: The Musical and The Addams Family. Camp Broadway has worked collaboratively with dozens of Broadway productions, estates and authors to develop and present interactive workshops that have enabled over 350,000 school children to attend Broadway shows. In 2002, Camp Broadway received the Educational Theatre Association's Standing Ovation Award for Leadership in Education.
StageNotes.net is sponsored in part by Camp Broadway LLC. The development of this online resource furthers the company's long-standing commitment to restore performing arts education in schools by opening lines of communication between professionals in the industry and the teachers around the nation who are inspiring future artists and audiences.
To visit the BWW Classroom, click here. To visit the new BWW Student Center - Elementary School Edition, click here.
After a record number of nominations in 30 regions worldwide, and careful proofing by our local editors, we are VERY excited to announce that voting has begun for this year's BWW Regional Awards. It's our BIGGEST EVER!
Voting is now open and in most regions will run through Dec. 31, 2012. Winners will be announced in early January. You can only vote once, so make your vote count! As always, we'll provide open live statistics throughout the awards so make sure to check back often.
"We launched many of these sites as subsections of BroadwayWorld.com" explained CEO Robert Diamond "because of the increasing intersection between the stage and other areas of entertainment. After witnessing explosive traffic growth across the board, we decided to tap into, and exploit each market's full potential by launching them as their own comprehensive websites. We will take what we've learned from nearly 10 years of leading theatre coverage and apply it to these other major areas of entertainment."
Each site will have a dedicated Editor-in-Chief, fully supervising content along with a team of newsdesk managers, photographers, photo editors, video crews, advertising sales teams, and more. Already, new site teams are working closely together, offering both media and sales opportunities across different outlets with distinct audiences, demographics, and targets.
"We've already begun to run both editorial exclusives and advertising programs" said Miles Silverman, VP of Sales and Marketing "that target a more general TV or Film audience focused on big stars and pop culture, as well live theatre's coveted upscale, highly affluent consumer audience. The response thus far has been extraordinarily positive as advertisers are increasingly interested in reaching multiple audiences via one reliable publisher for maximum cost efficiency."
All of BroadwayWorld.com's market-leading features including Mobile Sites, Message Boards, Twitter Watch, Photo Flashes, Video Coverage, Exclusive Interviews and more, along with the best news team in the business will be launched across the board to service each individual entertainment category. Additionally, the sites will share a registration system, so one login will work across all the web sites, allowing fans to seamlessly jump into conversations across the board.
Over the coming weeks, BWWComedyWorld.com, BWWDanceWorld.com, BWWMusicWorld.com and BWWClassicalWorld.com will offer regional subsections devoted to the top 25 markets around the world for each genre.
Wisdom Digital Media
Wisdom Digital Media Publishing launched in 2001 and its first flagship site, BroadwayWorld.com in 2003. BroadwayWorld is the largest theatre site on the Internet covering Broadway, the West End and beyond to 100 US cities, and 35 countries worldwide. With over 3.5 million monthly visitors, BroadwayWorld delivers complete up-to-the-minute Broadway, off-Broadway, and regional theatre news, in-depth interviews, extraordinary photo coverage, entertaining video features, lively message boards, ticket discounts, reviews, and more.
We were the first Broadway app on the market back in 2009. The world has come a long way since then and our apps have too!
Just a few weeks back, Apple released their iPhone 5, with a bigger and better than ever screen and now, BroadwayWorld.com's App has been optimized to take full advantage of it. The screen now fits more news, more posts -- and even more great Broadway (and beyond) content.
If you already downloaded our new app, which was released just in time for the Tonys, you'll have received the update automatically via the App Store. New users can click the links below.
BWW's new apps were completely redesigned from the ground-up and release in June and feature all of our news, content, videos, show listings, message boards, special offers, radio channel, search features, regional news and lots more - all updated in real-time!
Nominations are NOW OPEN for the 2012 BWW Regional Awards in 30 regions! Click on the link below to your region and nominate your favorites now!
You have until OCTOBER 26 to get in your nominations. After that, voting will open on November 5 and run until December 31. All productions which opened between September 2011 and October of 2012 are eligible.
Don't miss out! Fill in the nomination form and make sure that your favorite stars and shows get the recognition they deserve! Submit your nominations today!
Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Liza Minnelli, Itzhak Perlman, Lang Lang, Michael Feinstein, Chris Botti, Maria Friedman, Brian d'Arcy James, Rob Fisher, Essential Voices USA, former cast members of A Chorus Line and cast members of The Nutty Professor came together in top form for an invitation only event on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 to pay tribute to Marvin Hamlisch at the beautiful Peter J. Sharp Theatre at Juilliard.
The place was packed and 'Broadway heavy', with just about every star you could think of present for an emotional and thrilling evening devoted to the beloved Marvin Hamlisch.
A child prodigy, he was accepted into Juilliard before he was seven...yes, seven. We were reminded at the start of the evening by his wife Terre about just how early his talent shined through and about how he spent the rest of his life giving back to others with his friendship, time and musical genius. He never said "no" to a request to help out for a worthy cause, and tonight kicked off a very worthy cause in his name, of a new scholarship fund at the school. For information about giving online, visit www.juilliard.edu/giving. Let's help support the next generation of Marvin Hamlisch's.
From the 'Essential Voices USA' choir that started the show, to the skill of musicians like Itzhak Perlman, Lang Lang and Chris Botti to the emotion of best friend Liza Minnelli, the acting of Maria Friedman and Brian d'Arcy James to the soaring vocal talents of Aretha Franklin and Barbra Streisand (yes, she's still got it, and then some - and also earned the only standing ovation of the night!), it was an unforgettable night. We also got a tease of THE NUTTY PROFESSOR which hopefully will make its way into town sooner rather than later.
Here's who sang what:
ESSTENTIAL VOICES USA - 'Anatomy of Peace'
CHRIS BOTTI - 'What I Did for Love' from A Chorus Line
LIZA MINNELLI - 'If You Really Knew Me' from They're Playing My Song
DENA DIGIACINTO, EMILY FLETCHER, HOLLIE HOWARD - 'At the Ballet' from A Chorus Line
ARETHA FRANKLIN - 'Nobody Does It Better' from The Spy Who Loved Me into 'Deep River'
ROB FISHER - 'Theme' from Sophie's Choice
BRIAN D'ARCY JAMES - 'At the Fountain' from Sweet Smell of Success
ENSEMBLE - 'While I Still Have the Time' from The Nutty Professor
MARIA FRIEDMAN - 'Nothing' from A Chorus Line
ITZHAK PERLMAN - 'I Cannot Hear the City' from Sweet Smell of Success
LANG LANG - 'Overture' from A Chorus Line
BARBRA STREISAND - 'The Way We Were' from The Way We Were and 'Through the Eyes of Love' from Ice Castles.
There will never be another talent like his, and tonight was most certainly a worthy celebration and reminder of that. Once again, for more information on the scholarship and how to donate, www.juilliard.edu/giving
Alistair Smith over at THE STAGE has revealed details on a new controversy over in the UK that's worth reading... Time Out, the print publication that features listings and reviews launched a new production arm, appropriately titled as Time Out Live, "the events-producing arm and successful brand extension to the Time Out Group."
So far sounds OK, right? It does to me, who's always been a firm believer in expansion.
Now, here's the problem... The publication is now recommending its own shows as part of it's critic's choice 'top five best shows this week' and 'top five best outings this week' columns. If you read the fine print, it notes that the show is presented by Time Out, but Smith feels that "this is hardly clear to readers: Time Out is certainly not saying ‘we have a vested financial interest in you buying tickets to this show, for which we are a producer’." He ntoes that the shows have gotten a lot of coverage in the mag as well.
Conflict of interest - absolutely! I've been asked multiple times personally to take investor meetings for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, but have always begged off citing a conflict of interest myself. I most certainly would not be able to fully direct unbiased coverage of something that I had a financial stake in. In this case, I'd most certainly advocate separating any sort of promos for Time Out Live events from their editorial coverage.
Click here for the full blog, and it's your move Time Out...