Three Simple Steps to Reboot Your Website
Today’s post is by Eric Saber, an Account Specialist here at Patron Technology.
I spend a large portion of my day in front of a computer, staring at performing arts organizations’ websites. Last week, in preparation for this post, I had the following exchange with one of my colleagues:
Do you know any good performing arts websites?
(10 seconds of silence)
Colleague: Um, good question.
I think the exchange speaks volumes.This is a call to action: if you work for a small to medium-sized performing arts organization, then in all likelihood your website needs some fixin’.
The good news is there are three simple steps you can take right now to not only improve your patrons’ online experience, but to immediately benefit your organization:
1. Stop procrastinating and redesign!
Here’s something I hear at least once a week: “We’re in the process of redoing our site.” In my experience, this typically means that the organization realizes its website could use some work. However, it also means that the new site will probably launch sometime in 2015 😉
Having a professional website in 2011 is a foregone conclusion, so why do so many organizations put it off? We’ve all be there; when something feels important we often rationalize our procrastination by saying it’s too difficult, time-consuming, or expensive. Up until a few years ago, these things were true of web design, but that’s no longer the case.
Your site is the digital face of your organization and just as you meticulously design print brochures to be very professional, you need to present yourself online in the same capacity. There are tons of ways to go about this, even on a shoestring budget. 99 designs and Elance are great resources to find affordable and talented designers and programmers to assist in creating an online identity. Weebly.com offers a professional, easy-to-use service for creating a new site. Even a premium WordPress.com template can work in the interim. The important thing is to get started now.
2. Forget Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. First, make it EASY to buy tickets.
In Breaking the Fifth Wall, Gene Carr and Michelle Paul discuss in detail how important it is to make your patrons’ overall ticket buying experience pleasant and smooth, start to finish. Of the performing arts sites I regularly visit, one of the most common offenses I find is that there is no clear link to purchase tickets for the current production, right now.
This is important. A link to purchase tickets (or at least information on how to buy them) should be very prominent on your site. Ideally, it should be directly below your logo in the main navigation and in concise, simple language (i.e., “Buy Tickets”). By now, your patrons expect it, they will thank you, and you will make more money!
3. Put the newsletter sign-up form “above the fold.”
“Above the fold” is a term that refers to the part of the newspaper that you can see when it’s laying on the newsstand. The most important stories are right up top, above the fold, on the front page. The same principle applies on the web.You won’t get your patrons to join your e-mail list if your sign-up form is buried at the bottom of your website. This is a big deal, and even well-designed sites overlook this frequently.
You have an awesome opportunity to grab an e-mail address. I all too often see social media buttons or huge logos above the crucial “sign-up” area. I promise that most of your patrons aren’t going to bother scrolling down to find that button, so you need to move it somewhere in the top portion of your website.
Okay, so what do you do now? I hope you’ll think of this post as a quick checklist. If you can take one thing from this post, it is to improve your current site, and to start the process today. Your website is one of the most valuable marketing tools you have, digital or otherwise. You will have happier patrons if you make their online experience better, so don’t let this opportunity go to waste!