The very first submission on the site was nineteen months ago, almost to the day. Since then we’ve heard a lot of feedback from both troupes and festivals on how to improve the tool. I don’t intend for that communication to end, but I’m very excited to announce the new submission tool which went live this week based on the feedback from folks. So grab a tasty beverage and I’ll give you a tour.
One of the things festival organizers have asked for is more customized information. More information is always great, but if we start making troupes fill out complete forms for each festival, the whole point of the instant submission tool is kind of lost. So the submission side isn’t too terribly different. You can still submit with one click, but if you need to include a little extra information, there’s now a way to do it.
Let’s look at the main submission page for any festival. It looks pretty similar to the old tool, except for some minor visual tweaks. You still have all of your troupes listed with a checkbox on which groups to submit.
When you check the box, you’re ready to submit, but you’ll notice a new sidebar shows your troupes availability and has a small area for any notes to the festival producers.
If you’re unable to make a certain day of the festival, that’s really helpful information to send to the festival producers, so you can uncheck any days you won’t be available to travel.
After that you’re good to go. That’s it. Hopefully still a very simple process.
Just a reminder though. One thing that hasn’t changed is that while we can program changes to our own website, we can’t reprogram PayPal’s website. Sometimes PayPal takes up to 15 seconds to complete your transaction and send confirmation back to the submission tool. If you don’t wait it out for those few seconds, your submission might not be recorded properly.
For Festival Organizers
The rest of this blog post is mostly for festival producers, but for everyone else; if you’re curious about what the submission process looks like or you want some extra tips on how to let your best side be seen, then read on.
One thing that has been added for anyone that is reviewing a festival is a quick link on their main profile page. Just below their troupe and theatre information will be a link to take them directly to the festival page. This saves some clicks of going to find it int the list. This link is only visible to the reviewers (meaning other people won’t see the festival link on your profile page) and will disappear once the festival starts.
Once on the festival submission list, you’ll be presented with a lot more information right away.
Immediately visible will be the name and avatar for the troupe, their city and state, their availability, any notes left by the troupe, their home theatre, time of submission and status.
Not all troupes connect their troupe with a home theatre, and they certainly aren’t required to, but it is often helpful to help festivals have a bit of background on your troupe. If you want to connect your troupe to your home theatre, you can contact your home theatre’s admin and request to be added.
The Status pull down is only visible to the event’s administrator (other festival reviewers will see text in its place). This is so multiple people aren’t undoing each other’s work. The check box area can be set to “SELECTED”, “WAITLIST” or “REJECTED”. Once one of those options are selected, a second drop down appears to let you track if a group has been contacted and whether they’ve confirmed or declined an invitation.
That last part was important to me personally. I know it can be heartbreaking to not get into a festival, and even moreso when you find out about it from some other group’s Facebook post. Contacting “all” groups, both accepted and rejected is really a best practice for festivals and this status box will hopefully help producers better facilitate communicating with groups.
The last thing you may have noticed is the (Not Paid) tag next to certain troupes. You won’t see that often, but it will happen. Earlier in this post, I mentioned waiting for PayPal to send confirmation back to the website. 95% of the time, people do that. But once in a while, a group will leave the PayPal page before letting everything finish up. We certainly don’t want to penalize groups who have troubles with PayPal, so on those occasions where a group didn’t quite finish the PayPal portion of their submission properly, it will still show up in the submission list with a not to try to get in touch with those groups and finish the submission properly.
And of course, since there are more options on the submission review list, there’s also an “Update” button to save your changes. Actually, for festivals with very long submission lists, there are a few “Update” buttons, spaced out along the page to prevent a lot of scrolling, but there’s no need to stress over which one to use. They are all identical.
So that’s the new submission tool. Big thanks to the folks at the OC Improv Festival, Alaska State Improv Festival, Twin Cities Improv Festival, Phoenix Improv Festival, Detroit Improv Festival and Houston Improv Festival who offered a lot of suggesstions and helped with occasional beta testing on these new tools.
So what’s next? There are some more tools coming soon, but none of them will require a complete replacement of the tool. Those features will just start popping up in the next little bit. Curious? Here’s a sneak peek at some of the features coming in the 2.1 version of the submission tool:
- Who’s Reviewed This? Soon each reviewer for a festival can mark individual troupe submissions as viewed. This will allows the submission committee to track who has seen which shows. (Hint: everyone should see every show)
- Mark Complete Nothing huge technologically here. Just an option to set your review process as complete. This will remove the link from reviewers profile pages.
- International Options More flexibility for festivals overseas (currency, timezones, etc).
- Contact Now An option to directly email groups from the submission list. This will automatically set the group’s status to “Contacted”
I hope the new tool makes people’s lives a little easier and give festivals and troupes the opportunities to put on the best shows for audiences. As always, suggestions for the future of the tool are always welcome.