2005 Orchestra Website Review: Overall Rankings

What makes a good orchestra website? The mere question can generate conversations which last for hours. Nevertheless, each orchestra will decide for themselves just how important their website activities are to the organization and how much of their resources they can allocate toward website development and maintenance…

At the core of every good orchestra website is the ability to generate revenue and create awareness in a way which is more efficient than traditional methods orchestras currently employ. The diagram to the right illustrates how an orchestra website should be constructed; a core function supported by five primary components which are delivered in an outer cover of straightforward functionality.

Although each aspect of the surrounding components (website content & services) and the outer cover (server platform, navigation structure, & aesthetic components) will be unique to each orchestra, they should never replace the core function of finding a renewable, less expensive, vehicle for selling tickets and connecting with their audience online and offline.

The Rankings

Unfortunately, orchestra websites scored a little lower this year but what a difference those few points make. The average score, 58.93 out of 100, is a failing grade, which indicates that the majority of orchestras simply aren’t dedicating the time and resources needed to create an online product worth delivering.

Remember, the websites were not examined on the subjective basis of color schemes, layout, graphics, or other aesthetic qualities except in cases where those elements interfered with functionality.

Here’s how they stacked up:

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Click to learn about how you can access this information at Adaptistration Premium

Although there are some obvious exceptions to the rule, bigger budget orchestras were inclined to do better than their smaller budget counterparts. The average ICSOM organization website scored 67.71, or a D-, whereas the average ROPA organization only scored a failing grade of 47.87.

It was more than a little discouraging to see every one of the new orchestras included in the 2005 review score below a passing grade. However, it was inspiring to see such a wide range of budget size orchestras like Honolulu, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh all make significant gains over last year, even though it would have been even better to see them break into the “B” grouping. That alone goes to show budget size doesn’t really influence an orchestra’s ability to implement significant improvements to their website.

Clearly, the majority of these orchestras need some professional help. Beginning Wednesday, 9/14/05, you’ll be able to access greater details regarding each orchestra’s score and on Thursday, 9/15/05, you’ll be able to read more about specific issues, good and bad, emerging from the review.

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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