Between 8/22/05 and 8/31/05, I examined 80 professional orchestra websites and ranked them by how well they presented their concert schedule, sold tickets, provided organizational information, facilitated making donations, and on their overall content and functionality. The websites were not examined on the subjective basis of color schemes, layout, graphics, or other aesthetic qualities…
Orchestras were graded on five categories, each with multiple subcategories:
Category 1: Performance Schedule – 20 points maximum
Patrons need to be able to log onto an orchestra’s website and be able to gather information about the latest performance directly from the home page. This category contained two sub-categories which covered layout & organization features s well as monthly concert schedule navigation.
Category 2: Purchasing Tickets – 20 points maximum
In addition to being able to find concert information quickly, patrons also need to have as easy of a time securely purchasing tickets for any given performance with as little frustration as possible. This category contained six sub-categories covering features such as single ticket and subscription sales, ability to select seating, box office information, and secure purchasing options.
Category 3: Orchestra Information – 20 points maximum
Learning about an orchestra and having easy access to contact information and educational program information is crucial to an orchestra’s ability to establish meaningful contact with its community. This category contained six subcategories covering biographical and contact information for music directors and musicians. Staff and board listings with related individual contact info were also considered essential. Dedicated education sites assured the highest score possible in that sub-category. This category garnered the lowest average score of any in the examination.
Category 4: Making Donations – 20 points maximum
With the cash starved balance sheets most orchestras are suffering though, providing and encouraging patrons to donate online to a variety of programs should be considered crucial by every orchestra. This category contained two sub-categories addressing issues such as providing secure commerce servers and a variety of one time and preplanned giving options.
Category 5: Content & Functionality – 20 points maximum
if patrons can’t find your website then it won’t really matter how nice of a site you develop. Orchestras need to be able to present large amounts of information and e-commerce solutions to their patrons without overloading or making it difficult to find what they need. Accuracy, timeliness, and uniqueness of offerings all play an important role in this category. This category contained seven sub-categories covering issues such as URL clarity to navigation structure.