With an ever-evolving and growing business, the Carolina Theatre of Durham took on a rebranding project. “It was time,” said Aaron Bare, chief operating officer of the Carolina Theatre.
The Carolina Theatre has grown since its main stage opened in 1926: producing bigger and more numerous shows, bringing on a new CEO in 2010, and maintaining robust performance and daily film-screening programs.
As a historic space and downtown Durham landmark, the Theatre is a primary contributor to the performing arts scene in the Triangle, showcasing live performances in music, dance, theater, as well as a nationally respected film program.
“We’re a nonprofit theater, and a changing theater. We used to be a small, very community-oriented organization. Now we are much bigger, but still very community-oriented,” Bare said.
Working closely with the Carolina Theatre since 2008, DesignHammer has developed the Theatre’s main website, an iOS app, and subsites for the Theatre’s numerous film festivals.
DesignHammer previously built the website using Drupal, a free open source software content management system used by prominent entities in the entertainment industry, such as South By Southwest, Eric Clapton and the Grammys. Drupal offers an abundant list of features and add-ons for a variety of website needs.
The Theatre recognized its growing business and customer needs, and returned to DesignHammer for rebranding the existing website.
For the rebranding, the Theatre wanted communication materials to have a modern, clean look to present its extensive programming in an alluring way.
“We hope what they see is inspiring,” Bare said.
With eight-to-ten film screenings daily and 70–80 live performances throughout the year, the Theatre specifically needed an online calendar that could display intricate information in an attractive and digestible way for users.
“It brings a lot of challenges to the website to take the daily film program, in addition to the concert series, and have information that is easy to find and displayed well,” Bare said.
To display the detailed film listings, DesignHammer built a custom Drupal module that can display multiple show times in the schedule.
“The new schedule is day-oriented and user-friendly,” said Frank Yonnetti, partner and lead designer at DesignHammer.
With initial design concepts by Carolina Theatre, DesignHammer completed the website rebranding through Drupal theming and theme buildout.
The redesigned website also utilizes Responsive Web Design, which provides an optimal user experience for mobile browsing. Responsive design facilitates easy navigation and reading for mobile users by adapting a website to most devices and browsers.
For managing site content, Drupal’s easy user interface allows organizations to add new material independently.
“We tend to do film festivals on the fly and create on the go. One of the challenges DesignHammer helped with was creating something fluid and flexible that moves with the company,” Bare said. “We’re thrilled that DesignHammer has always helped us to accommodate this.”
Bare said that with the numerous performances throughout the year and small staff, DesignHammer built a great online system that allows the Theatre to manage the volume of content easily. “We’re small, but DesignHammer has created a website that looks like the content is run by a large team of people,” he said.
Even with a newly updated Web presence, Bare said he is already thinking about the next project. “Websites are living documents. You need to have a good team to help you keep that doc breathing and alive,” he said.
“With DesignHammer, it feels like I’m working with friends,” Bare said. “It’s just this open process of collaboration, and after a project, I always feel happy about it. I look forward to doing this again in three-to-four years, and a big part of that is working with people I know.”
The Carolina Theatre of Durham, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that manages the city-owned Carolina Theatre at 309 W. Morgan Street, Durham, NC 27701. Carolina Theatre of Durham, Inc. is dedicated to presenting vibrant, thought-provoking film and live performances that contribute to the cultural and economic vitality of downtown Durham and the Triangle Region.
Founded in 2001, DesignHammer is an award winning, full-service website design and development agency. The firm specializes in graphic design, content management systems, online application development, search engine optimization, usability and hosting, with experience in serving the needs of organizations of all sizes.