Website Reviews: A Word To The Wise

Today marks your orchestra’s final opportunity to make sure its website is ready for the 2008 Orchestra Website Reviews. In particular, it would be wonderful to see each organization make certain they do everything they can to make sure they meet the following criteria to improve the three sub categories which garnered the lowest average scores from the 2007 reviews…

  1. Higher review scores are within reach
    Higher review scores are within reach

    Institutional Transparency (avg score 0.82/10): include copies of your 2007/08 Annual Report AND IRS Form 990 (for the latter, a direct link to your organization’s GuideStar page will suffice).

  2. Press Contacts (avg score 3.12/10): make sure you have your primary press contact name, mailing address, email address, and telephone number listed in an easy to find location among your press pages. Make sure there is some sort of contact information for the designated players’ representative as well.
  3. Seating Charts (avg 3.88/10): include an interactive seating chart with photos (at least) and videos (at best) from each seating section of your primary venues.

Items #1 and #2 are particularly easy to improve and should take less than 30 minutes to adjust and/or update but if you don’t have the third item in place already, it will be “challenging” to get something in place by the evaluation period.

Other quick fixes of note that will improve your orchestra’s review score include:

  1. Remove any outdated content (you might be amazed at how many orchestras don’t check all of their webpages).
  2. Include contact info for staff members and executive board members (at the very least, a single dedicated board contact email filtered through an admin assistant is sufficient).
  3. Include contact email for the entire conducting staff (like the board email, even if it actually goes to an admin assistant first, that’s fine).
  4. Make sure your copyright, privacy notices, and legal boilerplate notices are up to date and easy to find from the home page.
  5. Verify that all payment links from donation and concert event pages are functioning properly and that up to date security notices are present.
  6. List your box office hours of operation and telephone contact info from the home page and/or concert info pages.

Making sure your website contains the above criteria can make the difference between a “C+” and an “A-” in your overall grade. With that much advance aid, there’s no reason any orchestra should have a website that garners a score lower than 70/100.

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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2 thoughts on “Website Reviews: A Word To The Wise”

  1. Hi Christopher,

    There is only one reviewer and that is me. I can certainly confirm that I have been active in developing elements of effective website design for performing arts organizations, evaluating sites on a consulting basis, and designing specific componenets for years.

    The review criteria is comprised of six categories and 23 sub categories, all but one of which are strictly quantifiable. The singular subjective sub category (“Uniqueness of Offerings”) only comprises 2.5% of overall possible points so its impact on rankings is negligible.

    The websites are not examined on the subjective basis of color schemes, layout, graphics. Consequently, this allows orchestras of varying budget size to be evaluated on an even playing field and the overall process ensures that the final results are fair.

    As an example of some of my recent work which impacts the reviews, a portion of the new components from the 2008 grading criteria are related to new media offerings. Consequently, you can be certain to find much of what is covered in the free eBook I wrote for 2008 NPAC, “How To Connect With New Media,” in the respective sub categories.

    If you’re looking for more information about the review criteria, you can find quite a bit at the former review pages as well as the print edition of the website reviews which details each review sub category.


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