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Our new website: Introducing the content team

The editorial side of the website relaunch.

By Rob Greig (Former Chief Technology Officer)

17 April 2012 at 3.39pm | 24 Comments

As we near the launch of our new website, I wanted to share some more insights into the work we've been doing. You can catch up with earlier blogs in this series on my author page. This time I would like to introduce you to our dedicated digital content team and share with you some of the new features they have been helping us develop.

Ellen and her team are the talented people shaping the Royal Opera House web offer, producing and promoting engaging content for our broad and diverse audience. They prepare emails, produce videos, take photographs, work with external bloggers and nurture our social networks: they are the digital engine behind our online communications. The team has had the massive task of reviewing and restructuring the content from the old website ready for the new. They need to update and prepare around 80 productions for when the site goes live.

We want to make our content easier to find and easier to digest, so we are creating hub pages for each of our productions. There will be no more hunting around for casting on one page and production photos on another – everything on a particular opera and ballet will be in one place. The content, calendar and visitor information will be available all the time with no waiting room getting in the way.

If that is not enough, the team took on a fantastic project to capture a photo of and from every seat in the main auditorium. The Royal Opera House is a very old listed building and its varied types of seat are part of its charm and a cause of tension. Describing bench seats, standing places and restricted views have always been a challenge. So, four long nights and 4,514 photos later we now have a view of and from every seat in the house: customers will be able to see exactly what they are getting before they buy.

Testing has begun on the new website and we are on the home straight. This is the most challenging time but we are confident. All I have left to tell you is that it’s not going to be black and grey anymore…

Read Rob's other blogs about the new website

By Rob Greig (Former Chief Technology Officer)

17 April 2012 at 3.39pm

This article has been categorised Talk and tagged booking, content, digital media, online, website

This article has 24 comments

  1. Sandra Eikelenboom responded on 17 April 2012 at 4:42pm Reply

    Very much looking forward to the launch! Next season we will also rebuild our websites, so we hope to learn from you!
    Toi toi toi,
    Het Muziektheater Amsterdam

    • cecil W. Gomez responded on 24 April 2012 at 4:48pm

      Though I have had no cause for complain in the past and note that I have done my ticket-buying from overseas I wish you all the best in your new website.

  2. It all sounds very interesting, hoping that it will all work out and be less frustrating to use. The current website is good for information but the ticketing system is a huge source of anxiety when booking periods open. Let's hope when the replacement for the notorious waiting room will be able to cope with the traffic. Starting at 1982 in the queue is always dispiriting but not being able to get on the website at all would a hell more horrible

  3. Jeanne-Marie Marshall responded on 19 April 2012 at 12:28pm Reply

    It all sounds GRRRRREAAAT, let's hope it works....

  4. Jeremy Bishop responded on 23 April 2012 at 2:34pm Reply

    It's a great pity that your pre-launch testing failed to reveal that the "choose your seat" function no longer worked. Please confirm that you will reinstate this feature.

  5. Jane responded on 24 April 2012 at 9:53am Reply

    As an AOL user, I was unable to book online with your old system and had to hang on to the end of a phone for an interminably long time. Will I be able to book online after you have updated the system?

    • Michael Hickford responded on 24 April 2012 at 11:03am

      You may not have been missing anything. I tried to book for next Autumn's Ring online and found myself at some appalling number in the queue, so after about 10 minutes I decided to adopt a belt and braces approach and phone as well. I stayed online and in fact was answered on the phone well before I would have been able to get through via the computer.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 24 April 2012 at 1:10pm

      Hi Jane. You should be able to book online using AOL with our new site. In the unlikely event of any issues, do please let us know though.

      Social Media Manager, Royal Opera House

  6. Peter C responded on 24 April 2012 at 10:08am Reply

    Will the photos from every seat in the house be realistic enough to have a typical head and shoulders superimposed in front? Views from the slips are particularly sensitive to this with people leaning forward, out and resting heads and extended arms on the safety rails? Now there's a challenge for you!

  7. Susan Nisbet responded on 24 April 2012 at 11:40am Reply

    So glad to hear about this. Recently, trying to buy a ticket online or by phone on the 1st day of booking has been so frustrating that I've given up. Can't wait to see how the new website copes with the next booking period!

  8. Brian Wernham responded on 24 April 2012 at 1:58pm Reply

    Looking forward to the new Royal Opera House website - I hope your development has been 'Agile' enough to meet our demands as customers!

    Brian Wernham

    • Ros responded on 24 April 2012 at 9:31pm

      Although I've only recently experienced the virtual waiting room for the first time, having been number 1800 and something when I was finally accepted, I can't wait to see what you have in store for us. The future looks bright. Thank you.

  9. caro responded on 24 April 2012 at 5:05pm Reply

    brilliant plan to photograph view from each and every seat in the House; top marks for imagination and practicality combined.

  10. Mahmood BHAMJI responded on 24 April 2012 at 5:20pm Reply

    I am glad to read about your effort to re-launch your on-line booking. I gave it up long time ago (normally I do it on the phone). Is it online now? Or being tested?? I normally attend the T-dances - first come-first-serve when it opens is most important.

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 25 April 2012 at 8:49am

      Hi Mahmood

      We're currently in the final stages of testing and you'll notice a big difference when we go live!



  11. tony responded on 24 April 2012 at 6:37pm Reply

    I thought the system as it stands wasn't that bad... but if you can show every seat view, that would be great. I'm was pleased that I could find a couple of seats at a cheap price in the RHO Worth the wait IMHO.

    One suggestion - maybe you could make it clearer upfront which productions are currently not open for booking. I wasted time opening up ones that couldn't be booked. Only needs a tag like "booking now" to sort it out at a glance.

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 25 April 2012 at 8:51am

      Hi Tony

      It will be much cleared on the new site which productions are bookable, and when booking will open.



  12. Dee Dunphy responded on 24 April 2012 at 9:17pm Reply

    great idea, photographing the view from the seat, will save a lot of disappointment. I went to see the Nutcracker for the first time with my daughter and couldn't even see the giant christmas tree from my seat ha ha ha.

  13. Tzctroh responded on 24 April 2012 at 11:42pm Reply

    The experience with the ticketing website has been so bad for me that I have given up buying tickets in the last 2 years.

    I am a technician. I hope you are using cloud computing and you have resources that can adapt to the demand as needed, otherwise we will be back to square one in no time....

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 25 April 2012 at 8:42am

      Hi Tzctroh

      We will indeed be using Cloud computing with resources that we hope will make the booking process vastly better.



  14. Derek Wailes responded on 25 April 2012 at 5:42am Reply

    On the first day of public booking i was number 1994 in the queue. By 3 oclock on the afternoon I finaly got to number one. Ready with Creditdit card to book It then jumped to 1999. Should it be so painful to get a ticket or two?

  15. Does this mean that you will stop using Tessitura?

  16. John Feast responded on 27 April 2012 at 10:40am Reply

    Having a look around the new site and trying out the booking system and generally looks very good and easy on the eye. How the booking system functions under pressure though is I guess what most of us are interested in.
    I'm a supporting friend and there seems to be a problem booking for booking period 1. If you select a performance from the calendar but then select the performance title to display all performance dates they are all shown as Not on Sale and you can't get to seat selection.
    I'm not sure about the individual seat selection as the selection & zoom features seem to get mixed up. Seat selection is a little slower than previously which makes me even more concerned about how this will work when the Waiting Room is replaced by a free for all. Today when booking 2 or more seats together it's possible to find the seat you wanted has been sold to someone else. Potentially, unless you have a 'cunning plan' this could be even more likely. I've mentioned this before but I'm afraid the rather general 'trust us' response didn't reassure me

  17. Alice G.S. Page responded on 4 May 2012 at 1:03pm Reply

    No comment, actually, other than that it's good to know that you are trying to do your best and seem aware when things go awry.

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