San Francisco Ballet

Transformative Storytelling for the Arts

Method partnered with San Francisco Ballet to design a new digital platform that facilitates engagement with its audience through multiple touch points with the intention to clarify the company’s story, provide inspiration through dance and attract a broader audience through education. The new online experience gives audiences the freedom to explore & appreciate the ballet through multiple lenses, while extending the same elegance you would find in a performance to some of the more focused tasks such as ticket purchase or donation. The site launched September 21st, 2016.

One of the outcomes we didn’t expect, was that through this process we would reexamine the very fundamental way that we communicate about ourselves. Method helps you to articulate yourself, which I think is key to differentiation. Through our work with Method, we were reminded to put our brand forward, to elevate the institutional values. This was a huge gift for us, and something that really hit to the core of who we are and how we work and how we think about the work we do online from this project and beyond.
Thomas Weitz, Senior Manager, Digital Marketing, San Francisco Ballet

Client + Challenge

Traditionally, the arts are a patron-based world—largely comprised of a more mature, affluent audience. The push to diversify and reach new groups has grown considerably, and what started as an opportunity has become a necessity: engaging the next generation of dance enthusiasts and donors by providing a coherent experience across touchpoints.

San Francisco Ballet is America’s oldest professional ballet company and regarded as one of the most innovative in the world. Method’s work for San Francisco Ballet is one of the first projects that aims to expand participation through the innovative design of their new web experience. We were asked to redesign San Francisco Ballet’s online presence to illuminate the organization’s heritage and story, provide a richer informational and transactional experience, bring broader awareness and appreciation to the art form, and inspire audiences through dance.

Method doesn’t lead by saying 'we’re going to do the most innovative thing you’ve ever seen. We’re going to blow your minds with innovation.' Instead, what Method does is create an atmosphere where innovation can arise every day.
Thomas Weitz, Senior Manager, Digital Marketing, San Francisco Ballet

Approach + Solutions

Large arts organizations like San Francisco Ballet often run into challenges many large companies face: diverse priorities and siloed teams, which can result in the misalignment of the benefits of an online experience. A large part of the success in this project was empowering the organization to work more collaboratively and efficiently, helping them understand that the new website serves as a tool for all of the teams across the organization.

Throughout the process of the project, the team focused on driving the potential of the interaction model, service layer and design system to enhance storytelling and connections to San Francisco Ballet’s diverse audience. Though the performing arts space can be antiquated, San Francisco Ballet is more progressive than most. Still, they wanted their site to not only be innovative, but cutting-edge. The team accomplished this through a responsive, relevant, forward-looking digital experience that provides a direct path to the art form of dance.

Education and storytelling served as the primary drivers, laying the groundwork for the project, couched in the “changing season” as the overarching design theme. Due to Ballet’s repertory, off, and holiday seasons, Method approached the design to flexibly adapt to the features of each distinct time period. The navigation stems from the content of each page instead of an actual navigational dropdown menu, enabling related content to live within the pages, while providing quick access to other sections within the site.

One of the goals in creating this website was to create something that would grow with us. The new focus on storytelling and the modularity of the site will really allow us to grow and evolve the story of SF Ballet over time.
Mary Beth Smith, Director of Marketing and Communications, San Francisco Ballet