WHAT MAKES A GREAT ARTIST WEBSITE?
In my last blog entry, 3 PRACTICAL STEPS FOR PROFESSIONAL GROWTH, I dove into how musicians can create their professional toolkit. One of the more daunting tasks for many is the creation of a website. Sometimes musicians ask if they should have one, but, most often, they seek advice for improving their existing one. In this entry, I’ll answer several commonly asked questions.
Do I need a website?
With the web accessible from the palm of your hand, if you want to be visible and findable, you absolutely must have a website. Every year Google handles billions of searches as people increasingly look online for answers to questions and for the things they need. It’s a small window for the public to see who you are and what you do, allowing you to take an active role in your public relations.
What should I include on my website?
This largely depends on the intent of your website, but there are four essential elements everyone should include.
Services with basic pricing (if applicable)
Media (good photo, audio, and video)
Depending on your specialty, there are a few other elements you can add.
Portfolio: could include lesson plans, academic papers, published articles, major past projects, compositions, etc.
Blog: a place to talk about current projects, trends in your field, thoughts on relevant topics, or to share a bit more about yourself.
Discography: if you’ve created or performed on recordings, I highly recommend this if you want to do more recording work or want to sell what you produce.
How should I organize my website?
There's no room for extensive navigation menus, complicated graphics, or poorly organized information on your pages.
Make it easy to explore with a clear and consistent navigation menu at the top of every page.
Please don’t make people click too deep into the website to find what they want to know. Not only does it keep people on your site longer, but it also helps with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), allowing Google and other sites to index it better.
Scanability and readability: clear font, bullet points, subtitles, images to add visual interest and break up the text.
Highlight what you want people to take away and emphasize the action(s) you want them to make.
Optimize for mobile as a majority of people will interact with your website on their phone.
Design elements are another critical element that can make or break your site.
Font: Clear, readable, not a time for fancy script fonts.
Color: This is wide open but make sure there is a high degree of contrast with light on dark or dark on light.
Photos: Use them when appropriate to help break up the text but avoid using photos that don’t relate to you or what you do.
Should I hire someone to make my website?
While this depends on your needs, most individual artists and small chamber groups don’t need to build a website from scratch. However, it can be helpful to work with a PR professional to make sure the essential information is there, to fully optimize it for mobile and SEO, and to manage it once created.
Site-building resources I recommend looking into:
Wix: Customizable templates, straightforward interface with some options for more advanced web development options, and reasonably priced.
Squarespace: Customizable templates, easy to use with a good user interface, and reasonably priced.
Wordpress: Requires more knowledge of coding languages, highly customizable, open source platform with apps, and reasonably priced. Well-suited to large ensembles, nonprofits, and other institutions.
I recommend always paying for a customized URL and web host. It will elevate your professional image, gives you a lot more control over your site, and makes SEO much more accessible.
It’s now more essential than ever to have a website because without one you’re basically invisible. By utilizing the right resources and some planning, you can build your niche online and help people discover the fantastic work you do.