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!
The 2001 Syracuse University graduate (School of Information Studies) is also the owner of Wisdom Digital Media, an award-winning leading design company for entertainment and technology web sites. In his previous life, he held an executive position for the world's leading publisher of technology magazines, web sites and conferences and, as a result, was named among the "Top thirty magazine industry executives under the age of 30" by FOLIO Magazine. Robert Diamond founded BroadwayWorld.com in 2003, which has now become the largest theatre web site in the world. He also serves as the site's Editor-in-Chief, covering Broadway and beyond, with specific local coverage for 100 cities in the United States, 35 countries worldwide and 15 other related areas of entertainment - including dance, opera, fashion, concerts, comedy, films, television and more. In May of 2014, the site was awarded a 2014 Award for Excellence in Theatre Arts Education by the prestigious Theatre Museum. Diamond got his start in the entertainment field, accidentally, when he created the 'official web site' (while in college) for Michael Crawford, the popular actor and original Tony and Olivier Award-winning star of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. (He still blames Crawford - and credits him - for anything that goes particularly right or wrong during an average day.) As a respected member of the Broadway and theatre community, Diamond also served as Lead Producer for a series of sold-out shows using the BroadwayWorld.com 'brand' for a set of 'Standing Ovations' concerts, which also branched out into titles that included Holiday Shows and even more specific concerts like 'From Stage to Screen and Back Again' in tandem with publishers and movie studios. All proceeds were in turn donated to Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS, the industry's leader in aid for performers in need. Robert lives in Manhattan with his wife and two dogs, growing the business and getting little sleep. In addition, you can usually find him in a theatre many nights a week. Robert's very popular blog, 'The Broadway Pulse' appears daily on BroadwayWorld.com and he also wrote weekly about theatre for the USA Network's Character Approved blog. In December of 2011, Diamond was one of 5 Syracuse University Alumni, all having achieved success in the world of start-ups, business growth and venture capital, participating on a panel addressing young alumni who are currently pursuing their dreams of running their own business and experiencing the day to day challenges of a startup. It is part of the university's new Student Accelerator Program, for which Rob was recommended by Syracuse University's i-School. In late 2012, Wisdom Digital Media announced the official spinoff and launch of 10 new entertainment web sites including BWWMoviesWorld.com, BWWTVWorld.com, BWWFashionWorld.com, BWWBooksWorld.com, BWWMusicWorld.com, BWWArtWorld.com, BWWComedyWorld.com, BWWDanceWorld.com, BWWClassicalWorld.com and BWWOperaWorld.com. In January of 2013, BWWGeeksWorld.com, devoted to home entertainment, mobile technologies and social media launched as well, followed by BWWFitnessWorld.com and BWWTravelWorld.com in April of 2013. In July of 2013, BWWHub.com launched as a portal to the complete family of entertainment and lifestyle offerings. In 2014, BroadwayWorld.com returned to the concert stage, with a series of benefit concerts featuring Broadway's brightest stars. A new partnership with Rock-it Science Records will record and release these special evenings, with proceeds benefiting various charities.