"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Thomas Jefferson
Sept. 23, 1800

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Y Is For......Yay Me

My last two posts were a birthday post celebrating my great friend and an open love letter to my most awesome wife. I love pointing out the awesomeness of all the people I'm so incredibly lucky to have in my life, it makes me feel happy and rich in the things that really matter. But lately a number of things, mostly work-related, have had me down and I need a pick-me-up, too. So this one is about me. I'm not going to talk about what an unusually gifted and giving and selfless person I am because I'm not. I'm not going to talk about how wonderful a life filled with me is to live because I think I probably require an unusual amount of patience to put up with. But I recently took on a new challenge and I'm pretty happy about the result, so I'm going to toot my horn about that.

This year I became one of the new members of the Brunswick Little Theatre board of directors. Having a huge mouth with no filter, I volunteered myself to take over upkeep of the group's web site before I was even officially seated on the board. I had no idea how to do this, which is part of the reason I volunteered, strangely enough. My family's involvement with the theater has led to all of us opening new doors and experiencing and learning new things, and we've really quite enjoyed that. I figured why not take on one more new thing, learn another skill. How hard could it be? It turned out I needed to do more than upkeep. Because we were going to be attempting to add a Pay Pal link to the web site and because I was going to be using a PC rather than a Mac to update it, it meant I had to completely dump the old web site and star over fresh. I would have to create a new site completely from scratch. Who likes to half-ass anyway, right?

So I researched several web design programs and ended up buying one with a ton of bad Amazon reviews because it was the best of some very limited options given budget and time and the things I needed to be able to do. The program came with a wide variety of templates, all completely useless. Again, no half-assing here, I was really starting completely from scratch. That was ok, the website we had sucked. Bad. It was so bad, our Facebook page keeper refused to link to it. She said it was an embarrassment. Ok, Jen, tell us how you really feel. No pressure, there. Heh. I suppose mine would have to be better. She said it couldn't possibly be worse.

The problem with the old page was primarily that it was meant to be more an artistic statement and an expression of the designer's cutsie sense of humor than a source of information. Mine wouldn't be like that as I have a journalist's style and zero, and I mean ZERO artistic sense. My site may be ugly (it kinda is) but it would be useful goddammit!

It took me a few weeks to teach myself  how to use the web design software, but it came to me eventually. I had a few scary moments trying to upload to Go Daddy, but it worked out. What I came up with is pretty good, if I do say so myself, and I do. It has it's faults, the most glaring being that it is not centered on your screen. It stays on the left hand side for some reason and I can't change it. It isn't really pretty, the colors probably drive an artist's eye bonkers and I am entirely too fascinated by the great variety of fonts available, but I am not a looks-based kind of guy. I am impressed by content, and this site is coming along better than I had hoped.

Here is the home page, if you want to go see for yourself. I feel it's easy to navigate and has lots of info without being confusing. Anyone coming here will see what BLT is doing right now and in the near future. I created "show pages" to highlight each project we are working on. Some are nice, some are ok and some suck. They are pretty much up to the directors in terms of content and if they don't help, it isn't much of a page. But I'm proud of the idea and I hope to slowly introduce the BLT theatre world to the idea that maybe no one has come to their shows in the past because they are the worst salesmen in the world. Once they understand that selling a show is part of the process, I expect these pages will look really good and be a really fun place to visit.

I turned what had been the most confusing part of the old web site, the Get Involved page, into what I think is a great introduction to what we as a community theatre do, and how everyone can and should help us out. It features slideshows and some pithy writing. Go look :)

I also had the bright idea to create a place where anyone who desires can download and print out their own show posters. Show posters are a bone of contention around BLT. The board decided a few years ago that posters don't do a good job of advertising a show. See, I told you they were the worst salesmen in the world. So, we don't print posters to hang around town anymore. And the shows since have almost all lost money, with the exception of last year's Wizard of Oz for which the lovely Lisa and I took over publicity, and imagine this, I PRINTED POSTERS. Anyhow, now there is a place for the cast and crew and friends to make their own posters to hang up around town. I just need to find a way to let people know it's there. Facebook, here I come....

This kind of brings me to the reason I decided to write this increasingly way too long post in the first place. If the site isn't seen, it is useless, no matter how great it is. So I installed a site meter to track views. I expected to be depressed. But, hooray me, I was happily surprised. Thanks to the wonders of the Google search, lots of people are coming to the site. Well, by lots I mean maybe a dozen or two dozen a day, but that is WAY more than I expected. I found one guy this week who came by way of Google search and stayed for almost 5 minutes looking at quite a few pages. He then left by clicking on a link to our Facebook page (which is awesome, by the way.) That is the synergy Jen and I were hoping to create. She has begun linking to the web page, I am proud to say, so at least she is happy with my work. Today I found something even better during my obsessive checking of the site meter. Someone came upon the site while searching for something else, in this case movie theaters in Brunswick County. He didn't mean to look for us, but he came and he stayed for almost five minutes and read from three different pages. I am so happy. In my fevered imagination, this person saw an alternative to movies at our site and was intrigued enough to investigate. I am going to believe he will come to our next show, Dixie Swim Club at Playhouse 211 beginning a week from Friday. I'm even going to pick out a person in the audience and pretend that he or she was that random web searcher.

It will amuse me. And make me feel good. And I deserve that.

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