On March 15, 2012 I attended the Web Site Demolition Derby panel at the South by Southwest Music Festival. On the panel were: The purpose of the panel was to critique musicians' web sites.  Following  are my notes.

Biggest Mistakes

  • Text is too small
  • Auto playing music or other sounds
  • Built in Flash animations – Flash never looks as good as the first time you see it, the novelty wears off, and it doesn’t work on mobile devices
  • Your name or what you do is not immediately clear
  • Audio or video players don’t work
  • People hate you for putting them through extra clicks

Best Advice

  • Keep it simple
  • Build your web site to change frequently – treat your web site as living and breathing
  • Implement a 30 day, or less, news cycle
  • Make it unique – branding and identity are important
  • Reflect who you are
  • If you’re a performer, always provide a date your fans can look forward to
  • Immediately give your visitors something to play or watch
  • Text is just as important as photos

Web Site Objectives

The panel used the analogy of a wheel to describe how musicians should use their web site to build a relationship with their fans.  The web site is the hub of the wheel.  It should be a bona fide web site, not a blog or a Facebook page (platforms come and go, which we learned with MySpace).  The web site drives traffic to the “spokes” of the wheel - your blog, Facebook page, iTunes page, Amazon store etc.

What Should be on the Web Site

  • news items
  • concert dates
  • the latest song
  • your upcoming concert schedule
  • a freebie (song download, for example)
  • photos
  • branding

Selling Stuff

Editorial curation and e-commerce don’t mix.  Drive traffic to one or more separate sites for selling tickets, merchandise, and songs.  Sell your songs in one or two places only. Google ads no longer make any money for people so don’t allow them.  They look terrible and don’t belong on artist web sites.

What works: Good design, clear navigation

What doesn’t work: Flash animation, auto playing music, it’s difficult to discern who this is as the logo is a website URL, the home page should have one video you can watch immediately on the home page instead of linking to another page with a lot of videos (extra clicks, which people hate) Thank you, panel, for sharing your expertise with us. Analysis by Smart Alice Web Design & Photography, smart web design for people who want a unique and effective presence on the internet. Copyright 2012, Alice Gebura, All Rights Reserved.

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