2011 Orchestra Website Review: Overall Rankings

Between 10/12/11 and 11/04/11, 71 professional orchestra websites were examined and ranked by how well they presented their concert schedule, sold tickets, facilitated making donations, provided organizational information, utilized dynamic content, and on overall content and functionality on both desktop and mobile platforms.

2011 Orchestra Website Reviews Overall RankingsKeep in mind; the websites were not examined on the subjective basis of color schemes, graphics, or other aesthetic qualities except in cases where those elements hindered functionality. Consequently, the reviews are not only fair but based on a set of quantifiable criteria, all of which allows orchestras of varying budget size to be evaluated on an even playing field.

It is also worth keeping in mind that the 2011 reviews employed an expanded set of evaluation criteria (details) along with measuring how well sites performed on a variety of mobile platforms.

Additional changes for 2011 include the new data table display for the rankings along with a five star grading system, which replaced the traditional letter grade assignments.

The 2001 Orchestra Website Review data is only available at Adaptistration Premium; get your subscription today.

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]Kudos to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for taking top honors this year’s review.[/quote] For the first time since the very first orchestra website review, the top spot is occupied by someone other than Chicago Symphony and Nashville Symphony, although those groups still managed to take the #2 and #3 slots respectively.

It’s also interesting to note that those three groups were the only orchestras to break 80/100 points. Likewise, two of the Top 10 spots went to ROPA ensembles, #7 Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and #9 Dayton Philharmonic; which just continues to demonstrate that a big budget isn’t a prerequisite to developing an effective website.


The remaining Top 10 covered the gambit from high 60’s through high 70’s. Beyond that, groups continued to garner increasingly lower scores due in large part to the following issues:

  • A lack of direct buy tix links for events featured on the landing page.
  • A convoluted donation shopping cart (some systems actually required users to remove ticket purchases before they could add a donation).
  • A lack of search features and/or sitemaps.
  • No social media share buttons on convert event pages.
  • Concert calendars that displayed nothing more than an event’s name (no what/where/when details, no “buy tix” link, etc.).
  • Inefficient optimization for tablet platforms.

Tomorrow’s article will examine detailed category scores and survey results for each orchestra in addition to analyzing scoring trends over the past five years.

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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