The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU:
Welcoming, Educating, Embracing: One Website, Two Audiences - A Case Study for the Arts
We are in the midst of a technological and social revolution that is changing how we think and feel– together and in ourselves: no wonder ballet is reimagining itself.Jennifer Homans, Founder & Director CBA
“Ballet is reimagining itself,” said Jennifer Homans, the Founder and Director of The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University. And in turn, to follow this new image, they needed a website that would take them into the future, while celebrating their past, and engaging all members of their community.
e9digital was waiting in the wings to take the stage with The Center for Ballet and the Arts (CBA); to study, design and launch their new website, helping them achieve their next step. The following case study explains the process of building a new website that targets both audiences, embraces the future of ballet, and helps bring the client’s hopes to fruition.
For most of the projects that e9 takes on, we are able to not only create the client’s website, but also the look and feel of their brand that is involved in that build. For The Center for Ballet and the Arts, the situation was a little different. In this case our design needed to reflect their modern branding while supporting it.
“The Center for Ballet and the Arts exists to inspire new ideas and ballets, expanding the way we think about ballet and bringing vitality to its history, practice, and performance in the 21st century.”
We wanted to echo this sentiment through the website. Our job was to inspire new ideas and help bring the motto of the CBA to life on their new page. Not only was integration key, but so was consistency in this build. This project needed to dance in tandem with our client and not form its own steps.
Learning the Steps
We approached the ideation phase of this build knowing we had a lot to learn about the client and that we had to be thoughtful with our final product. In the same way you learn the steps of a dance, e9’s team entered into ideation with a clear vision from the client on what needed to be done.
The Center for Ballet and the Arts’ previous website was okay at appealing to the “new” members of their community, but there were no valuable reasons for existing fellows and/or alumni to visit this site.
Knowing that ballet is not just an “okay” form of art, e9 knew each facet of this website would need to flow alongside the branding and vision of the CBA.
How would we address the need to appeal to both former, current, and new community members? How would we help bring the CBA into the digital and social enlightenment of the 21st century while respecting and celebrating their past? And finally, what else could we bring into this “performance” that would give it a standing ovation?
“We are thrilled to have a platform on which we can feature our assortment of visual content. Previously, our website did not allow us to present this content publicly. Now, we are able to disseminate our photos and videos to a wider audience.”Jennifer Homans, Founder & Director CBA
Practice Makes Perfect
How do you speak to multiple audiences in one execution? e9 decided to integrate multiple new site functions to address the needs of all the CBA’s community members. The Fellow Search was implemented so current and existing fellows had the ability to publish their progress and final products in one database. This met the client’s needs of giving current enrollees a reason to use the site while also giving past members the option to post their old work for others to see and appreciate.
And while the Fellow Search worked, the Event Platform accompanied it. Boasting a main function of not only a tool to advertise upcoming events on the website and via calendar, but also to show historical recaps from performances past. Yet again blending the past with the future to please both audiences for The Center for Ballet and the Arts.
To accompany other site functions, a big ask of alumni and site visitors, in general, is to support the program through monetary donations. So an on-site donation system was added by e9, that integrates with NYU’s default payment processor. This was a much-needed improvement in UI from what NYU provided.
Lastly, as both current and former fellows audiences were being addressed, there was a need to address prospective fellows and those interested in a future with the CBA. So, an Application System was embedded into the site to show multiple programs for applicants and a way to toggle applications availability. As all performers on stage work together to form a collective performance, every execution on the final website moved in unison to deliver the client exactly what they asked for from e9.
A Foundation For The Future
e9 knew it had to help The Center for Ballet and the Arts achieve its goal of embracing the technological and social revolution they were taking part in, so initial wireframes included heavy video, social, and live-streaming capabilities.
As widely accepted and used as social media is, the CBA needed a way to alert site visitors to their social media presence, while not overshadowing the performance of the site as a whole. To achieve this, we implemented a Social Stream plugin that our technical director Travis wrote. This stream automatically populates posts from Facebook and Instagram using the #cbanyu hashtag and displays them on the site.
Lastly, there are social icon callouts in the footer to drive visitors to the CBA’s main pages as well.
“It is great that we have a social wire that highlights our key moments on social media. It’s a valuable piece of the website because we understand the importance of cross-promoting our platforms.”Jennifer Homans, Founder & Director CBA
The Look Accompanies The Dance
While much of ballet is the movement and the performers enacting that movement, another aspect is the wardrobe and stage design. As e9 tried to mimic the artistry of ballet into a website, we did not want to neglect the visual components that complement the technical ones.
“The e9 team was committed to helping us produce an aesthetically pleasing site, and they responded thoughtfully to our artistic requests.”
Jennifer Homans, Founder & Director CBA
The Center for Ballet and the Arts’ old website was extremely text heavy and after e9 learned they had access to an extensive photo library, they opted to utilize these photos through the site for visual treatment.
This take brought new life to the site and with the addition of the video header, the visual component of the website relayed the look and feel of the art of ballet just as well as the content did.
The Final Performance
For The Center for Ballet and the Arts, we knew we had to take a beautiful form of art and relay that onto a site. We did this through sound strategy, intelligent design, and thoughtful content. Every element of the site meets the brand standards and the client’s vision down to the elements that might go unseen.
For those moments in between pages, so the user never misses a beat, we created a custom loading animation that highlights the branding and also provides a smooth transition as the page loads. This gives the first impression of quality and attention to detail in an elegant way.
This performance highlighted e9 digital as a collective whole. We displayed our individual talents (design, content, strategy) with how they work together to bring our clients a better product than they had before (ideation, implementation, support).
We give our all to each project, oftentimes creating amazing work that ultimately can get cut from the final performance through rounds of edits. This highlights that we sell out for each iteration of our work, whether it’s a first viewing or a final hand-off of assets. We take every step of our dance with our clients seriously.
“Our biggest issues with our old site were usability, navigation, and multimedia capacity. It felt a bit flat and didn’t allow us to demonstrate the amazing work we do at the Center. We feel the new website has improved greatly in those three areas.”
Jennifer Homans, Founder & Director CBA