I thought I was in the know when it comes to the world of digital and theatre, especially being a culture blogger I thought I was on top of everything.
Recently a friend introduced me to a website called SeatPlan having never heard of this before, she told me that the website is a platform where audiences can post their reviews of West End shows and its venues.
Not wanting to be the odd one out, I thought I would see what the fuss was all about and play around with the website.
When I first clicked on the website, I was not very sure as to what I was exactly looking at nor did I know what to click on first.
Being a theatre website, I am not sure that I like the blue coloring or the fact that the logo is smaller- I think that could be improved by increasing the size and maybe changing it from blue to red.
When you see the home page, it advertises London shows and as you scroll down for the rest of the information- you see what looks like a bad instagram account. There are users images of views of the stage from where they have chosen to sit. As they review their comfort and experience, these photos are not the best quality and I don’t think the photos are needed or if they are then chose better images.
I thought I would have a go as if I was in need of some information, so for example I am looking to see Matilda. So I typed in the show in the search bar and it came up with 2 options, either in the location of London or Bristol. I selected London and it gave me an overview of the plot of the show, a map showing the location of the venue, the time and dates of booking (including the running time) and the link to book tickets. What’s missing is some travel information to provide us with how to get to the venue.
So far so good, I got to grips of the site and could just about understand and use it.
Then the reviews come in at the bottom of the page. Now don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the reviews and if I am honest I only read reviews from fellow theatre bloggers/critics so it was hard for me to want to read the reviews from the public.But they are honest and do give useful information about where they sat, how their theatre experience was and their review of the show overall.
The review section is hard to read as you have to hover the mouse over them and scroll the page down to be able to read it in full. Now if the site is audience focused then the reviews should be at the fore front of the website, it needs to be somewhere at the top rather than having to scroll down to find them.
I am also not a fan of the star rating but that’s another blog post entirely. I tried to click on the profile who wrote a particular review but it does not let you do it. It shows you the name and the amount of reviews but also helpful votes (I don’t know what the helpful votes are).
After having a play around with the home page and website, it finally clicks and I understand why what this website is about and how it works.
Trouble is, I only found this out at the last moment- which is a shame. Anyway, turns out that when you search a show (rather than the location) more reviews and content comes up. I find it easier to type in the show, as when you do that- you get venues, photos and all of the reviews.
And as you click on a venue, it cleverly gives you the seating plan with reviews from where audiences have sat with a useful color coding system that reflects her review.
I do think SeatPlan can be a useful website for audiences, especially if they are unsure about going to the theatre of if they are unsure about where to sit or are worried about accessibility issues. Though I am not sure the reviews of the shows are useful, I think it needs to be entirely focused on the venue experience.