My Summer Project: A WordPress Website for Stage Right, a Local Non-Profit

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

Stage Right has a 15-year history of quality education and professional local theater. But you wouldn’t know it from their old website… the talented and busy people who maintained the old site would regularly take down old content (such as the announcement of cast lists, or the hiring of a new staff member) and there was no obvious place for them to keep a set of links to reviews published in the local paper, or updates about what their graduates are doing now.

This week I’ve started training the staff on how to use a blog-style listing so that, instead of taking down old content to post new stuff, they should instead just create a new post, that automatically appears at the top of the screen.

I’ve ¬†also created some “pages” for the major components of the organization that aren’t time-sensitive. Our new stage manager is a committed Google Calendar user, so instead of the old system (which included copy-pasting Word documents) I’ve embedded a Google calendar into one of the pages on the site.

Eventually, I’d like to see separate Google calendars for the public, for the cast of our professional shows, and for the student productions, but for now we’re just getting started on using WordPress to manage our content.

I’m using Rimuhosting, which used to host jerz.setonhill.edu until Seton Hill decided to take all its web hosting operations in-house.

The site uses the theme “Responsive,” which I hacked slightly to replace the “Featured Photo” section to display a gallery of videos from the Slidedeck 2 Lite plugin, which in turn is connected to a YouTube playlist. The site design decently scales for tablets and smartphones.

The site also includes a widget that displays the Stage Right Twitter stream, and I’ve also set it up to interface with Stage Right’s Facebook page — but I’ll introduce the staff to those functions a little later, once the staff is comfortable with the more basic WordPress functions.

Under the hood, the site uses the Jetpack plugin to manage statistics, plus another plugin (the name escapes me) that automatically imports and uses a local copy of any image that you hotlink to.

The Stage Right artistic director produces some flashy print brochures, from which I grab all sorts of well-chosen images and nicely arranged collages, which means I don’t have to slow down to come up with an appropriate image — the site looks great because photos of the productions are so dynamic and colorful. I did not try to reproduce all the content from the PDFs, so I have uploaded them to my Google Docs account, where people can preview them from the Stage Right website (or download and print them out). Because the PDFs were large, I did run them through a filter (in the Mac “Preview” app, there’s an export filter called “compress”) that reduces file sizes considerably.