Over the last few weeks, we’ve examined topics that circle back to a problem in the arts field where organizations tend to place artificial limitations on how they connect online with patrons. A key point of contact in that process is e-commerce, which covers everything from purchasing tickets to making donations.
Instead of merely ranting about it, I’ve been working with a new arts-based website client over the past few months who decided it was time to shrug off those restrictions and look at designing an e-commerce component from a new perspective.
All things being equal, the site will launch in a few weeks but I wanted to take today’s post to share some of what’s in store and connect it with the problems we’ve been examining.
For this project, a composer with a catalog of more than 1,000 works, many with multiple versions to publish, needed a way for users to easily and quickly navigate this vast sea of music, find what they need, and make a purchase.
If you visit most composer and sheet music publisher websites, you’ll find works categorized via a single structure: orchestral, pops, chamber, solo works, etc. That works fine for a catalog with a few dozen works but if you spend enough time surfing those websites, you’ll discover this single categorization approach is applied pretty much the same regardless of how many works a catalog contains.
But what if you want to find a concerto for piano and orchestra that’s available for rent or purchase with a duration between 12 and 25 minutes?
Good luck with that.
If you visit most retail websites, multi-taxonomy filtering (the ability to search and filter products by one or more categories) is normal. But for whatever reason, the classical music field seems almost willfully resistant to the idea.
Having said all of that, classical music doesn’t always have easily defined, universally agreed on categories. Consequently, the first step in the process is a doozy: figure out a way to group everything that comes across as intuitive for a diverse group of buyers.
If that isn’t a big enough step, you also need to factor in the very different buyer perspectives. A professional orchestra looking for holiday pops programming will approach searching a catalog in very different fashion than a solo pianist looking for a new concerto to perform.
In web development, those groups and how they interact with the site are called user stories. A user story describes something that the user wants to accomplish by using something like a search/filter interface. Clearly defined user goals, such as “I want a piano concerto with orchestra and chamber orchestra orchestration that lasts around 15 minutes,” helps to organize and prioritize how user interaction is designed.
Lastly, everything needs to be constructed with an eye toward ongoing evolution. Using a platform that provides the ability to easily edit and expand categorization in a way that doesn’t break the bank is critical to staying with the technology curve.
Here’s a sneak peek of the solution we’re in the process of finalizing:
Once the site goes live, you’ll get to experience everything first hand. In the meantime, if you buy sheet music for yourself or your organization, what are some of the limitations you wish didn’t exist?