Originally, I was going to fill this column with my annual rant against the Tony Awards. This year, they really outdid themselves. The design winners were barely seen on-air, having been relegated to a time slot before the broadcast began. I was all set to denounce the New York Theatre Wing and the League of American Theatres and Producers for marginalizing the work of designers. There's only one hitch: The winners didn't show up. Two of the three design awards, for scenery and lighting, went to Catherine Martin and Nigel Levings, for their work on La Bohème. They're both Australians, so they chose not to make the trip. (William Ivey Long was on hand to accept his costume design award for Hairspray.) That took the wind out of my sails. So I'll wait until next year to tell you how the Wing and the League treat designers like dirt.
Now that I'm worked up, I do have a little bone to pick. In working on the Lightfair report in this issue, I referred to several companies' websites, to check the spelling of products and miscellaneous facts. Several sites haven't been updated in months, in some cases, years. One company — I'm not naming names — has proudly posted all of its press releases — through 2001.
A website is the easiest, most accessible way of spreading information about a company and its products. If you're going to have a website — and these days, you have no choice — it has to be kept current. If you don't do so, you aren't just misleading your customers, creating a bad image for your company — you are, quite literally, driving away business.
Nobody knows more than I do that websites are a pain to maintain. They eat up time and money. If you have a small staff or a limited budget, it's easy to concentrate on other concerns. That's why it's better to have a modest, but updated, website as opposed to some ambitious production that's too hard to maintain. But whatever you have, it must be kept up to date. If you showed a product at LDI 2002, you should have that information on your site sometime before the following June. If you haven't posted a press release for three years, delete them. Otherwise, it looks like you have been doing nothing for the last three years.
Websites really do matter — especially with younger, more digital-savvy designers and technicians who get most of their information from the Internet. I urge you all to take a critical look at your website. If it isn't up to date, fix it now. At the very least, your customers will be better informed. And who knows? You might actually move some product.