“Ivan Vazov” National Theatre is one of the main pillars in the Bulgarian cultural landscape. Its history dates as far as 1904, making it the earliest and most prestigious theatrical scene in the country. The reputation of a leading institution today is proven by over 50 active plays in their repertoire, more than 250 regular and guest artists, 3 stages with 1000 seats combined.

The project

It was an honour for us to be commissioned with the task to redesign and rebuild the website of the National Theatre. It's a great responsibility to create the online presence of a century-old national institution, keeping its historical authority, while making a modern web interface for everyday use. The website is used by thousands of visitors who want to purchase tickets, see the latest premieres and learn more about their favourite artists.

When we started working on the project we found a WordPress based website with outdated design and online ticket purchasing interface that was slow and non-user-friendly. The back-end was also impractical for the administrators, who have to manage the theatre's large repertoire of plays, hundreds of artist profiles and thousands of ticket orders. We had to rebuild everything from the ground up, with a custom front and back-end.

The goals were set:

  • Create a modern design, accenting on the beautiful imagery from the plays;
  • Make the artists stand out;
  • Improve the ticket ordering process, making it quick and intuitive;
  • Connect the new ordering process with the theatre's bespoke tickets management system;
  • Build a custom back-end for effective administration of all the data, public and orders related, which is updated on daily basis;
  • Migrate the existing database of users and ticket orders to the new database.

The new design was created, fusing the colours and overall look and feel of the theatre's classical building with modern styling, fonts and content layouts. We've used the rich library of high-quality photographs and video trailers for the plays, artists, virtual tours and history pages. Each play has its own landing page, presenting the production in its full glory. The “Ivan Vazov” National Theatre is proud to have Bulgaria's most loved stars in their cast, that's why we've placed a special accent on the actors, their portraits and profile pages. Since a significant part of the theatre's visitors are active young adults, it was a must to have a fully responsive and mobile-friendly user interface.

The website is actively used for selling and managing tickets. There are hundreds of orders per day  and it needs a reliable and intuitive ordering UX. The complete user-journey was redesigned, tested and the UX – improved. The steps are as straightforward as possible. The user chooses a play, date, then selects seats from the interactive floor plan and completes the order in their cart. All bought tickets are managed from the user's personal account page. A barcode is generated for each ticket, which can be scanned directly from the visitor's mobile device at the theatre's front door, making the order process 100% digital - from buying the ticket to entering the hall.

Behind the updated front-end we've built a solid custom back-end. Starting with the content management of all plays, premieres, their promo sliders, image galleries, synopsis, adding the profiles of the cast, news sections, and of course – the thousands of registered users and the history of their orders. We've integrated one of the largest local card payment processors – ePay. The updated ordering process was connected with a ticket management system, used by the theatre's box office, for managing the pricing for different sections of the halls, seats availability after online and offline purchases.

The client was truly delighted with the completely renewed online presence of the National Theatre. Our entire team is proud to be responsible for a project with such importance to the public. The “Ivan Vazov” National Theatre now has the spectacular website it deserves as a national leader in the stage arts, proving that even a hundred-year-old institution can be up with the pace of 21st century.