Pacific Symphony Launches with Tessitura Ticketing Integration

Congratulations to the team at Pacific Symphony on your beautiful new website!   You can see it here – Pacific Symphony Website

Pacific Symphony sought an entire web presence that could represent their nationwide brand with passion and excitement (in addition to California style).  Pacific Symphony wanted to maximize the user experience by fully integrating custom functions including Tessitura ticketing system.

ARTdynamix™ Enterprise fit that request perfectly.  Thus, DWG collaborated with Pacific Symphony through the entire process and the new web presence launched in December of 2021.  Yay!

As we began developing the Pacific Symphony’s Website, the need for a shopping environment for REST handshake with their Tessitura software in order to replace their existing SOAP based environment.  Having converted other Tessitura clients from SOAP to Rest, we began the task by understanding the way that Tessitura is customized for Pacific Symphony. Tessitura refers to itself as “arts enterprise software”.

It is an enterprise application used by performing arts and cultural organizations to manage their activities in ticketing, fundraising, customer relationship management, and marketing.

As many of you know, Tessitura happens to be amazingly flexible and allows the end user to create their ticketing environment pretty much any which way they care to.   As such, understanding the client ticketing paradigm is essential to creating a great Shopping platform.

We were able to cover the gamut ranging from short flex series with special pricing, to long term category based fixed packages, to group sales, individual tickets, and donations.

 

 

What Is Semantic Search and What is the Context in Today’s SEO?

Search engine technology has progressed substantially and will continue to do so. Semantic (context-based) search has become increasingly important for SEO. It is important and can work for you.

SEO is transitioning from multitudes of backlinks and keywords to high quality backlinks and from long tail keyword and search queries to fast websites with semantic search.

The Search Algorithms have added, replaced or modified many of the variables that are used for placement/ranking. Previously, the focus has been on speed, cohesive content and congruity, The focus since early summer 2021 has been on understanding intent and action, as well as the context (semantics) that surrounds them.

Optimization has changed. The days of reverse-engineering content to improve rankings are gone and just discovering keywords is no longer sufficient.

You must provide rich information that provides context surrounding the long-tail keywords and have a strong grasp on the user’s purpose. This combination is essential for SEO, since AI and NLP (natural language processing) are being embedded in to search engines in order to better understand the context and users of search. So, in short, semantic search is a search engine’s attempt to produce the most accurate results possible based on the end users’ intent, query context, and word relationships. In another word, semantic search, tries to process and understand natural language in the same manner as a human would.

Semantic search on the web extends nearly two decades. Whether it was Powerset or SHOE in the 2000’s or the google knowledge graph in 2010 which eventually led to Hummingbird, RankBrain and BERT. All these engines are attempting to create the Semantic Web where intent and query is matched as closely as possible with the provided content.

How do you succeed with semantic search?

Most of you who know me (Nami), know that I have been a strong advocate of structured data. Going back to 2013, DWG first advised our clients that they need to create structured data to inform search engines of their shows, events, products, content, and location.

Well, don’t be surprised then if I tell you the structured data is more important than ever. But structured data by itself, especially if not used properly can prove to be detrimental.

First as always, is your content. The age of keywords alone has long passed, so look through your pages and give your audience, a comprehensive answer and include long-tail (4 – 5 words). Before digging into more technical information, provide content that answers a typical inquiry simply and concisely at the top of the page.

Consider providing “comprehensive guidance” and more complete resources that your readers will find useful instead of dozens of small, disjointed pages, each with its own topic. Think of big themes in your field that you can go into detail about. By focusing on people’s intentions, you can build a comprehensive, creative, and high-quality content strategy.

This strategy will focus on a list of subjects for content generation that focuses on the searches that bring users to your or your competitor’s website. Focus on the real question that is being answered and not the individual keywords.

Now that you have these pages, circle back and recheck the basics:

  1. Long Tail keywords, Nice URLs, Meta tags, H1, and H2 Tags
  2. Authoritative Backlinks
  3. Use Schema.org (structured data) to help the search engines present your information in more ways
  4. Accessibility and WCAG audit – Even though it is intended for accessibility testing, this will help you find many of possible short falls of your SEO and even help your SEO in places.
  5. Site Speed – getting your site speed up is essential – Minify resources, compress images, use caching, and if possible, use a CDN.
  6. Information Design – Create a logical Information structure for your site and make sure there is a logical relationship between your content for a better user experience.

–Nami

The Vital User Experience

When I (LaMae) do presentations about web design and navigation, the User Interface / User Experience, the discussion is always lively because inherently everyone understands that UI/UX is vital.  I often tell the story of a mirror I installed in our home hallway and how I was so pleased with myself for the handiwork.  Then, I showed my husband who happens to be taller than me,  his head was chopped off and I realized the great job I had done would only work for me … or those very close to being the same height as me.  Missed the mark on that one.

A simple UI problem

Paper Towel Dispenser with sign

This picture is a  more analog example of the user experience.  Imagine how many folks had difficulty using this paper towel dispenser for someone to have taken time to make and tape up an additional explanation?   My experience was just as confusing.  I read the sign, “PLACE HAND RIGHT BELOW THE GREEN LIGHT …” but the green button was nowhere to be found unless you moved your hand under the dispenser, and then it was intermittent.  Most of us would eventually figure this out and frankly, it is only an annoyance, but how many people are choosing someone else because of an annoyance?

UI/UX on your site

The user interface (page design including the look and its ease of use), as well as the user experience (how do the site pages flow work together to get things done), should be the primary, or at least one of the primary planning considerations.  Can the visitor find what they want, is it aesthetically pleasing, can they/will they buy?  These questions are your goals (or should be).  There are probably others, too.

If someone wants to buy – let them.  Heck – make it easy for them.

Finally, this brings me to Quality Assurance.  Check your site (or paper towel holder) based on real users and not your own expectations and assumptions and minimize annoyances.

 

Acronyms for the Rest of Us!

I promise technology is not a language all it’s own even thought I think that some days.  But tech folks do love Acronyms/Jargon.  I’ll share two examples as insight into technical minds.

WYSIWYG — I had used this acronym for quite sometime before I understood the origins.  To me it is simply the ability to enter content via text and then there is a toolbar to select things such as bold, italics or creating a link.  I later learned it is What You See Is What You Get.  I find this both odd and beautifully simple at the same time.

Hardening — As you can probably imagine, this word is used often at Dream Warrior Group since we have such an array of servers.  My impression was that this was a precise series of steps to secure a server – which it is and we have a team of folks who do just that.  But the actual origin of the word is much less process oriented:  Hardening — to make the server harder to hack.   This seems like it would be a great word to use in other cases like hardening my lawn (to make it harder for weeds to grow) or maybe I can harden my cell phone number (to avoid SPAM calls).

Anyway, I’ve come to appreciate the actual simplicity behind technology speak — it is very literal.  I’ve complied a list of some common terms below and I’ll update it from time-to-time as well.  And, if there’s one you’ve been dying to understand, Let me know and I’ll figure it out. — LaMae

SaaS – Software As A Service — This is typically a could based software application that you subscribe to rather than own.  The advantage is that you do not have to host,manage or secure.  The disadvantage is that you do not own it.

PaaS – Platform As A Service — While similar to SaaS in that it’s cloud-based, this is more goal-oriented and often includes many software tools combined in one ‘platform’.  For example, Zoho software includes about 15 different software elements and if you subscribe to the platform – you can use them all.

CMS – Content Management System – This is the interface on your website that is the master controller for placement and display of content and can range from WordPress, a great general tool, to ARTdynamix(R) that has been specifically created for Arts Organizations.

WP – WordPress – The most used Content Management System that began as a blogging tool.

CRM – Customer Relationship Manager

AI – Artificial Intelligence

MA – Marketing Automation – It’s likely you have already used some form or marketing automation such as autoresponders in your Constant Contact account or thank you emails from your shopping cart.

CSS  – Cascade Style Sheet – This is where your website gets a consistent look…a style sheet defines your design element in code format.

iOT – Internet of Things –

SEO – Search Engine Optimization – On and off-site work to make sure you name or offerings reach the top of the Search Engine.

Mother of Invention

If there has ever been a necessity, it was 2020.

We all have lots of stories, ours includes knee surgeries, burglary and our need to quickly help our clients with some technologies they never thought they would need, but had become their new paradigm.

Technology brought us many great things in 2020. And it was more than medical-related items – although medical technologists made so many things possible.

Looking closer to our own work, zoom expanded capacity and improved its security quickly.   Desktop and web streaming technologies, and services bloomed and became a life saver.  Over ten months ago, we did an article LinkedIn about an interesting read on a new technology that was saving live symphonic music. The article referred to Dan Tepfer and Michael Dessen who had worked with a decade-old open-source software – JackTrip – which due to necessity was coming to its own.

To quote NPR, “[…] when it comes to playing music online with any kind of rhythmic integrity, latency quickly becomes a total dealbreaker […] The solution: an open-source software called JackTrip, developed by Stanford University researchers Chris Chafe and Juan-Pablo Cáceres over a decade ago, that can transfer high quality audio data across the Internet at low enough latencies, within a geographic radius, to mimic someone playing music roughly 30 feet away […]”

Full circle I just read a series of new articles about the  JackTrip Foundation which was helping singers and musicians collaborate online.  The little engine that could has proven mighty and is going strong.

This was only one of the many stories of technological accomplishments in face of the dreaded 2020.  During the same period, we worked with Clients and friends to bring quality live performance to the public: from simplicity of using DaCast, to the more complex Kaltura, to Isadora or OBS with zoom, and for many others using OBS with Youtube or Vimeo and even a couple of other very esoteric combinations that proved themselves.

And while we helping clients with their web streaming, we had to jump on the bandwagon and build up and expand on the technology behind our systems.  Stay tuned for the next release of ARTdynamix™ which will knock your socks off.

-LaMae