Web Design, Development & WordPress


Baggårdteatret is one of the most prominent regional theatres in Denmark. They have produced contemporary works since the 1960s and continues to challenge the traditional perception of what theatre is. This includes embracing the digital reality on stage as well as online.

About the project

The main objective was to design and develop a user-friendly website that caters to the full spectrum of today’s digital devices, with a clear focus on the theatre’s main product: their performances. It had to be easy for their customers to browse through their program, read about performances and find tickets. Additionally, the theatre wanted to experiment with different integrations of social media and strengthen the website’s ability to work with different online marketing channels.

My role

I was in charge of the design, strategy, front-end development and WordPress integration. I started by wire-framing their website with attention to the features they had requested in their initial brief, extended with a few other ideas of my own. Once the client was happy with the structure, I refined the design to match their overall branding and vision. I then coded up the site as a single page application for a more fluid user experience and integrated it into WordPress.

Modular campaigns

We knew that we wanted the front page to present their program. But we also wanted to reserve an area that would allow them to promote specific campaigns in a more direct manner. This could be anything from performance-specific promotions to off-stage product advertising. The important thing was to make a system that allows for flexibility over time. So we dedicated an area at the very top of the page and build a range of customisable modules for the client to choose from, depending on what they wish to promote at any specific time. Some of them are custom made for a specific show, while others are more flexible and can be used more broadly. It was also important to ensure that the system would make it easy for us to design and build new modules in the future, since we can’t possibly know what kind of content we may wish to highlight in the coming years. At the moment they have 5 different modules to choose from.

Lessons learned from the ‘Annual Pass Campaign’.

The second campaign we launched was to promote annual theatre passes. With an annual pass, customers would gain access to all performances for a whole year. The annual passes are effective at generating a community around the theatre while increasing overall revenue, so there is a big incentive to promote these. The campaign proved very effective, selling more passes in the first month than in any other month before that. In fact, they had a 51% increase in sales compared to the bestselling month before that. While this was really great, we also noticed that sales dropped again as soon as we switched the campaign to something else. This immediately countered the flexibility of the campaign system. We realised that while it was great to be able to promote the annual pass in the campaign, we also needed higher visibility for the annual pass when another campaign was active. That way we could use the campaign to push the annual card further at peak months but still utilise the campaign module to promote other products. So to solve this issue, we decided to integrated a “Buy Annual Pass” button next to every “Buy Tickets” button on the site. That way customers would become aware of the option at that critical moment when they decide to buy a ticket. With this change we are now able to promote other products through the campaign module again.

Image of the 'Annual Pass' ticket button next to the 'Buy Ticket' button.
we decided to integrated a “Buy annual pass” button next to every “Buy tickets” button on the site

It was very intersting to see how we were able to find new opportunities by dedicating such an important area to experimentation and modular change. The campaign module is a perfect tool to try out new ideas, and be able to get feedback fairly quickly.

The performance timeline.

At the core of a theatres communication strategy lies their performance program. The performances are the main product and it is critical that it is easy to navigate through their calendar. When designing a calendar for a theatre like this, it is important to realise that performances almost always run in date-ranges, rather than individual dates like you would expect from a concert venue for example. If you design a calendar that represents each day separately, you would end up with clusters of days with the exact same performance right next to each other, forcing the user to scroll through a lot of repetitive information. So in order to allow the user to skim through the program easily, I developed a concept of a timeline — highlighting each performance only once. That way the user can get a quick overview of what is going on before deciding to read more about a specific performance. I also added a feature that allows the user to ‘time-travel’ back and forth through seasons in case they are interested in performances that are further in the future. This is particularly useful when they release their full program for the next year, while still having a few performances left in the current one.

Social media widgets didn’t quite work for us.

Baggårdteatret wanted to integrate social media on their website with all the bells and whistles. Social media is obviously a big part of online marketing, and seeing all these social media widgets around the web had them convinced that this was worth doing. Personally I am always a little sceptical when it comes to integrating social media widgets on a website. Mostly because it usually looks awful in the design, has a negative impact on pagespeed and doesn’t appear to be effective enough to be worth it in most cases. But in this case I was curious to see if we could make it work. If we could make some sort of community-driven PR happen on social platforms by making it a part of the informationflow on the website. So we went all-in and integrated all of them: Facebook like counters, facebook comments, Instagram galleries, share-buttons and twitter tag-feeds. The hope was to push the performance pages to social media, and get the audience to talk about their experiences publicly online.

When we first launched the website, the performance module in the timeline looked like this:

The first version of the performance module had social media elements displayed at the bottom with ‘likes’, comments and share-options.

It kinda worked. We managed to get quite a few likes on the bigger performances and we even got a fair bit of facebook comments. But watching it over time made us realise two things:

  1. While 300 likes on a performance page is pretty impressive for a regional theatre, it still is perceived as a small number when you consider the social media landscape that we are used to see online, and showing a two-digit ‘like’ count on the smaller one-day events simply looks worse than not showing like-metrics at all.
  2. The nature of a theatre’s calendar, is that every piece of content is temporary. The performances were most likely to see engagement in the week or two before the event. After the last performance-date, it disappears from the calendar as it is no longer relevant to promote it. The nature of the forward-pacing calendar counters the likeliness of generating high social metrics on the performances — at least for a business of this size.

So a few months after launching and testing, we decided to remove the social media widgets and focus on making sure the content from the website integrated as nicely as possible when shared. This allows the bigger performances to generate shares, likes and comments directly on facebook, without displaying the less impressive metrics on smaller events on our own site.

B-times – From physical to digital

B-times is Baggårdteatret’s physical publication with cultural news from the region of Southern Fyn. It is released around 4 times a year, and can be found around the local area. A lot of work goes into this publication and a lot of good content is written for it. We, being a digital agency, thought it was a bit of a missed opportunity that this content wasn’t available to people outside their region, as most of it would be absolutely relevant to people outside of Fyn as well. So we approached the client with the idea of a blog-style subsection on their website, where they could publish the articles. This would not only allow them to reach a much bigger audience for their articles, but it would also give them more effective shareable content for social media and be beneficial for SEO. The client liked the idea, so we built the digital version of B-times.

Publishing the articles on their website has a few benefits to the physical publication. One of them is the ability to link to related content. We created a widget that the client could use to link directly to a performance when it was relevant to the article. In the example above, the article is an interview with one of the actors from their 2015 performance “Carl”. So in this case its relevant to link back to the specific performance, potentially generating new leads.

Results and takeaways

It is always exciting to work with a client who’s passionate about trying out new ideas in their online marketing strategies.I believe this is one of the best ways to ensure good results. It is not always easy for clients to understand that a website is never really finished, but rather should be looked at as an ever evolving tool. There is always new things you can try out, things that can be improved and changes that need implementing because the company evolves. Baggårdteatret has been exceptional to work with in this regard. I believe that we have created one of the best user experiences on the Danish theatre market with a website as dynamic and modular as the theatre.