When reviewing websites for musicians, we generally break down the reviews into 3 categories:
- Organization & Navigation
For each category, there are certain key things that we look out for. We’ve decided to share our checklist so bands can assess their own websites!
So here’s our 16-point band website assessment checklist to measure how your website is doing (download the checklist here):
16-Point Band Website Assessment Checklist
Section 1: Design
1. Does the imagery represent the band’s style?
Do your photos, font colors, and website theme match up well with the sound of your music? This can be quite subjective, but if you play children’s music, a dark theme with drab colors probably won’t be a good direction to take for the design of your website.
2. Design doesn’t get in the way of the content?
Does your site feature lots of crazy Flash animations? Do visitors have to scroll past too many design elements to find content? When it comes to designing a site for your band, simple is often better.
3. Are photos professionally shot, and properly formatted for the site?
We often tell bands that they should spend more money on getting professionally shot photos than on designing their websites. Having professional photos is one of the most important elements to a great looking site.
Once you do have some great photos, make sure they’re formatted and sized correctly for your site. We come across many sites where photos are oddly cropped, blurry, or the aspect ratios are off.
4. Does the typography represent the band's style, and is it easy to read?
Another element that can make or break a website’s design is the typography. Again, simple is best. Don’t use too many different fonts on your site. Each has its own style, and it can be difficult to match them properly.
For body text, keep the size of the fonts between 12px and 16px. Any smaller than 10px is too hard to read, and larger than 18px creates too much scrolling to read through. Also stay away from colored fonts, too much bold, and never use ALL CAPS.
5. Does the website look good on a smartphone or tablet?
How does your website look on a mobile device? Does it format properly? Is the content still easily accessible? Do all the features work?
With more and more people accessing the web from mobile devices, it’s extremely important that your website gives fans a good experience on any screen size.
Section 2: Organization & Navigation
6. Is there a clear and focused call-to-action on the Homepage? (1 or 2 max)
A call-to-action is designed to direct people’s attention to something specific that you want them to do while on your website. It could be to join your mailing list, buy your latest album, listen to your latest track, or donate to your fan-funding campaign. But it’s best to limit yourself to one, maximum two calls-to-action.
7. Are there a reasonable amount of menu options? Is the menu easy to understand?
For band websites, we suggest having a maximum of 8 main menu options. You can push that to 9, or even 10, but after that, it starts to get messy.
If you only have 5 or 6, that’s fine. Any less than that, you’re likely leaving out some key information and content from your site.
8. Is the menu easy to understand?
When naming your main menu buttons, keep it simple. People have very short attention spans, and not a lot of time. If they have to think about what content *might* be in a certain section of your site because the name is fancy/cute/artsy, chances are, they’re going to skip it.
Stick to names like “Home”, “About”, “Music”, “Shows”, “Store”, and avoid vague names like “Experience”, “Discover”, “My World”, etc.
9. Does each page have a clear purpose?
A good rule of thumb is to have one clear purpose per section of your website. On your Bio page, don’t add a Fan Forum or a Guest Book. On your Calendar page, don’t add a blog.
If you have certain features/elements to your site that are important, they should have their own section.
10. Is each page a reasonable length?
Finally, each page should be a reasonable length. Don’t force visitors to scroll down the page forever to see all of your content. Either edit the content down, or organize it in a way that each page is focused, clear, and easily scannable.
For more about creating the navigation for your site, check out our post: The Magic 8: Essential Menu Options for Your Band Website
Section 3: Content
11. Does the site look up to date?
Your website shouldn’t be a static flyer. If your last update is for your Christmas album from 2009, people will likely think you’re no longer active. Be sure to update your site on a regular basis to let people know what’s happening in your career.
12. Does the Homepage give a good 1st impression of the artist and their music?
Your homepage is often the first page visitors to your website will see, so it’s important to make a strong first impression. Having a great header and/or background image, a short bio, your latest news, as well as a music player for people to sample your music in one, easy, obvious click can help make that great first impression.
A well-designed homepage combined with a great call-to-action can also get you more sign-ups for your newsletter, more sales from your online store, and convert first-time visitors to becoming active and engaged fans.
13. Is the band making a personal connection to the fan?
Are all of your updates and content written in the 3rd person? More than ever, fans want to feel a direct connection with artists. Make sure you’re including content on your site that is coming straight from you, and doesn’t sound like it’s been written or posted by a label or manager.
Find out why it’s so important to make a personal connection with your fans: Do Musicians Need to Interact with their Fans?
14. Is there a reason for a fan to come back to this site?
Are you giving your fans a reason to keep coming back to your site? Posting regular blogs, new photos, and adding other new content on a regular basis can help keep fans coming back to your site.
Need ideas for blog posts? Check out these 13 Topics That Musicians Can Easily Blog About
15. Is there content relevant for industry and media?
Remember that it won’t just be fans or potential fans visiting your website. Industry people like bookers, agents, festivals, as well as journalists/bloggers will be going to your site as well.
Make sure to have all the information they need, like your official bio, promo photos, reviews, etc.
Build a digital press kit on your website: 7 Essential Elements for your Band’s Digital Press Kit
16. The site doesn’t have any useless or annoying content?
One example of useless and annoying content we see on band websites are ads. Focus your website on your music, don’t try to send people away with ad links. Chances are, they won’t generate much money anyway, and they look kind of cheesy.
Another example would be if you’ve embedded tons of widgets onto your website. If you’ve embedded every calendar, social media, and ecommerce platform’s widget onto your site, chances are, the design will look cluttered, and will make for an annoying experience for your visitors.
Download the 16-point Band Website Assessment Checklist
You can download this checklist and use it to evaluate your own website, just click the button below!
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