While it may feel as if Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are enough to cut the mustard and garner growth, a website gives you a slew of benefits that your social media accounts simply can’t.
A website gives you a sense of professionalism to media, bloggers, fans and even interested labels. A website also gives you free rein to present yourself in a long-form fashion, where social media obviously only gives you insight in a quick, short-form setting. While social media is the go-to spot to show off your personality and the various components to your brand, your website should still serve as the hub of your persona, and act as the one-stop-shop for information on your work.
Here are some essential do’s and don’t of musicians' websites.
Don’t: Overcomplicate your navigation
Throughout my time working in the music industry, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time working alongside advertising agencies. And what a lot of people don’t know about design is that user flow is a huge component of what ad agencies and web design companies deliver to their clients.
Essentially, these companies spend hours assessing where users are more likely to click, and what a perfect navigation would look like. While you obviously can brainstorm this on your own without having to shell out tons of cash to marketing agencies, just know and be aware that a simple and easy-to-use navigation is key to keeping visitors interested.
Recent studies have shown that 55% of users spend less than 15 seconds on a website before clicking away. That being said, your site needs to be easy to navigate!
Do: Keep it simple
Whether you’re an artist or not, a website is just one arm of your entire digital presence. And while you can be more in-depth on your website then you can on Facebook or Twitter, your website should still be easy to navigate and just have your essential information. Less is more when it comes to your navigation bar.
A simple navigation for an artist would look something like this: Home, About, Media, EPK, Contact. Keep it to the bare essentials, no need for fluff.
Don’t: Host your EPK elsewhere
An EPK (electronic press kit) is the online package you send to booking agents, press and other influencers in order to get booked, placed, and shared in the industry. I often see beautifully designed websites that are linked out to horribly designed third party hosted EPK websites.
This poses a few problems but two main ones:
- Now your visitor has left your page! Who wants that? You want visitors to stay on your page and learn more about your music, buy your merch, or book tickets to your shows.
- The branded look on your website and EPK are now inconsistent. And an inconsistent brand can hurt your brand recognition and sales.
Do: Host your EPK on your website
While many great EPK services do exist (and I use a few), it won’t hurt to designate a new page on your website for your EPK. As long as it has photos, video, and a bio, you can easily host an effective one-page EPK on your website without the hassle of dealing with a third-party service or site.
Don’t: Use cheesy designs
This one’s tough, because that graphic that you made might be the most awe-inspiring, beautiful piece of art to you—but in reality, it may come off as unprofessional to others. If you are second-guessing a graphic that you created or had your friend design for free, it may be best to scrap it all together.
What makes a graphic bad? A good rule of thumb is to imagine if a major brand would post something similar. Would Apple or Coke post a photo with bad overlay text? Or would they opt for something more polished?
Here is what makes a graphic/design “bad”:
- Low-res photos: Always ensure your photos are high resolution, and aren’t grainy or blurry. This is a huge issue for a lot of artists and brands. Always make sure you’re working with good quality photos.
- Bad overlay text: I see a lot of graphics with a white background and a thumbnail of an artist—or a block of black text talking about an album. I’ll talk more about where to create great visuals when we talk about design.
- Off-colors: If your color scheme on your website is black, white and red, then that bright yellow font on an image might be a bad choice. Remember to stay with one uniform design. Follow this helpful guide to choose the right colors.
Do: Use elegant, simple designs (and pay for them if you have to)
Having good design on your page is incredibly important! And while Jimdo makes building a professional website simple, ensure that your graphics are just as professional, too.
This could be by taking a few classes on graphic design (free classes exist at Lynda.com and more) or even mastering a free service such as Canva or Pixlr. You can also use a professional service like 99designs for quick design tasks that you don't want to do yourself.
Make sure that you look professional and put-together. This is especially important to stand out from the millions of other artists out there. By looking professional you instantly come off as more approachable and established.
Don’t: Forget to integrate social media
When media, a label, or even a fan looks at your website, they usually go search for more info on you. Therefore you should always have your social media channels on your website, especially if they have impressive numbers and content. Learn more about adding icons to your website.
Do: Show off your entire presence
While your website should be the “long-form” version of your digital presence, make sure you’re showing off your social media outlets, too. Have placement on your website so that folks on your website can get a complete view of who you are.
Other key widgets to integrate with your page are:
- Stat Counters/Google Analytics: These help you ensure that your web traffic is up-to-par and that you have a good idea of what pages are working the best, and which ones may need a little boost.
- SEO: SEO is crucial to your web presence. SEO, or search engine optimization, is what dictates that your post is high up on those Google search results. By utilizing these tricks you can ensure that your posts will be SEO optimized for better visibility.
- Newsletter Bars or Pop Ups: While “pop up” can be a bad term, they do have their place. On your website if you’d like to utilize a small pop-up promoting your newsletter, it’s a great tool to push to build your list. Or, another less in-your-face route, is to simply utilize a Newsletter widget on your website to catch email addresses. These widgets usually tie-in with MailChimp, Constant Contact or whatever newsletter service you’re using.
These are just a few small ways to improve your online digital presence as a musician. As artists, you have to be constantly aware of what your fans want: to learn more about you, to learn where to see you, and to learn how to interact with you even more!
If you’re interested in how your website is holding up (as well as your social channels, EPK and more) I’ll gladly discuss these with you, just head over to my website found in my bio below.
As a music marketing strategist, Tyler Allen works with an extensive array of artists, labels, music tech, and music retail entities. Tyler began his music industry career with Sony Music Entertainment and RED Distribution, as well as the advertising industry. He is dedicated to giving veteran artists the tools to preserve their legacy, and new artists the tools to begin theirs (as well as everything in between). Learn more at wtylerconsulting.com. Follow Tyler on Twitter and Facebook.