2005 Orchestra Website Review Criteria

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.
  • About Drew McManus

    "I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

    I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

    In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

    For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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