Here Are Some Quick Ways To Avoid Common Website Mistakes

As the 2013/14 season is getting underway for most groups, this is an ideal time to make sure you aren’t inadvertently overlooking a few vital aspects at your website that are should be easy to modify. To that end, let’s take a look at what those are and how they can be corrected.

1) Subscription sales are up but no notice about when singles go on sale.

It’s no secret that you should be eyeball deep in your subscription sales push but in addition to those links you should also have notices about when single tickets go on sale. In the end, you don’t want to cannibalize your subscription sales but posting a simple notice along the lines of “Single tickets go on sale [day], [mm/dd/2013]” notice will do just fine.

Tip: be sure to include the single ticket date notice on individual event pages as well as any ticket or box office overview page(s).

subscriptions
A GOOD EXAMPLE: FranklyMusic.org had a prominent action button for subscription sales and a simple notice for when singles will be available. When singles went on sale, the action item became the same red button where the advance sales notice resides.

2) Dead end action items.

One of the areas where orchestra websites have improved the most over the past few years is adopting some sort of homepage slider; and although it sometimes goes by different names, it is the large image based promotional item that rotates any number of images.

These are terrific tools for fitting a large amount of content in a comparably small footprint but one bear trap to avoid is forgetting to include a link to the conversion target. For example, if one of your slides promotes subscription sales, there should be a link to the internal page selling the subscription packages.

One item to consider here is if the entire slide is the clickable link, don’t forget to include some sort of visual notice to that effect, including a redundant action button or iconography confirming a clickable action exists is the way to go.

slider icon action item
A GOOD EXAMPLE: This slider image at ChattanoogaSymphony.org contains a “tap” icon to visually indicate that the pocket calendar is available for download.

3) No day-of event info listed.

Ideally, your homepage has some sort of direct link to basic event day information such as parking, directions, traffic, box office info, weather, etc. In short, anything your patrons might be looking for the day of an event should be no more than a single click away.

These items lend themselves to something as simple as list style group of links or if you’re brave enough to trust the technological literacy of your audience base (and you should be), descriptive icons are a great way to go as well.

quicklinks
A GOOD EXAMPLE: Placing the list of quicklinks immediately below the search field helps site visitors visually drill down to day-of event links, like this example from the ChattanoogaSymphony.org footer content.

Conclusions

In the end, thinking about the sorts of small changes that can improve your site bit by bit is a good habit to develop. Assuming your website provider offers the sort of access and control you should have over your website’s content and functionality, each one of these items should only take minutes to update.

Having them in place makes your site more likely to produce an overall positive user experience while simultaneously maximizing revenues and engagement.

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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