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.
Keep 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.
[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.
SOURCE OF THE TROUBLE
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.