Welcome to week two of Website Wednesday. My goal is to help you build a great website for your art. A site that looks good, works well and that you can maintain with little to no outside help. A website you will be proud of.
Last week I told you to slow down, cowboy. I asked you to step back and think about the reasons you need a site in the first place. Maybe you don’t. I asked you start with why. I gave you a list of questions to get you to why. I also gave those questions to Karla Adolphe.
Karla is a musician whose site we are rebuilding from the ground up. Karla is our real-world case study. She has a site she is not happy with. Here is what it looks like today.
Not bad on the surface. Not bad at all, but Karla is frustrated with how her site doesn’t work. So she has started with why.
Here are my questions from last week, and Karla Adolphe’s answers
1. DEFINE YOUR AUDIENCE
Who are the 2 or 3 groups of people who will be using your website (eg. fans, booking agents, galleries, peers, educators, mom and dad, etc.)?
"The folks who I want buying my creative brand + music, attending shows, and sharing/interacting with my posts"
"Music presenters, house concert hosts, festival directors, other musicians looking for BGV [background vocals].
Radio stations, anyone in the bizz"
"Vocal and songwriting students"
(emphasis mine throughout)
2. DEFINE THEIR ACTIONS
What are the 2 or 3 actions that each of these groups will want to take when they arrive at your site? What do they want to do there?
- "I would like the fan to easily explore all the elements that are me (blogs, upcoming shows, interacting with the material I am posting both from social media to the site and site to social media)"
- "I would like the fan to buy things (music, merch and show tickets)"
- "I would like the industry professional to easily get a sense of my live show (audio/video) and
- easily be able to book me"
- "Easily get info about the workshops and
- book a workshop"
Using that list of actions, make a list of 5 to 7 of the most important.
3. DEFINE YOUR FOCUS
From that list of 5 to 7 items, what is the one most important action a user on your website could take?
"MAIN ACTION - cross pollination
(on every page) social media logos to promo people to cross interact with me via social media and a sign up for my newsletter"
So, now we know the why. We know what is important to Karla’s visitors (at least, from Karla’s perspective). If you are following along at home, you know what is important to you and your visitors, too.
I know we should really be more scientific at this point. We should base this on some data. Perhaps you could sit some of your fans down and ask them what they would most like to see on your website. You can think about what you look for on other artists websites and assume others are similar. But we don’t have that data today so we’re going ahead on good old fashioned intuition. Later, once the site is live, we can measure our intuition. We can see if we got this right. We can tweak and make changes. But we’re going to start with what we have. And that means we are going to start.
This is another reason why it’s critical that you can change your site easily down the road. I have never got a website right on launch. Try as I may, there are always errors. Typos. Broken links. But even deeper, errors in judgement. Mis-judgements on the why. Things no one is clicking on. New things I want people to find easily.
Launch is not the finish line. It’s the starting point of a new phase of website development.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves for today. For today, we need to get one step closer to launch. We’ve drilled down to some key actions.
Today we know what is most important.
For Karla’s site, the most important thing is to create a hub where Karla’s various identities around the web can come together.
Whether Karla is posting a new song, some musings on life, dates for a workshop or a recipe, she wants you to find that and find it fast. Karla is not just branding her music. Karla Adolphe, the creative person, is the brand. She wants people to know that. That she is more than her music. That she can teach the community to sing or help them be more creative. That she has things worth saying and shares them regularly. That she wants to chat, and to chat where people are chatting every day–on social media.
This is good to know. It means that Karla’s homepage is going to look a little busy, on purpose. We’re going to need to bring together all of Karla’s social media identities - all into one place. We’re going to need to make a space where Karla can share things easily, long after I’m done building her site.
This is actually a fairly tall order for a website. It requires some intentional, tricky design that draw attention to a few things among many things. It requires plugging a lot of channels into one place. It means whatever tool we use use will have to integrate well with social media platforms and provide a good blogging tool that we can pull right into the homepage.
Luckily, the tool we’ll be using is Squarespace, and they deliver on all of these needs.
Whatever your MOST IMPORTANT THING is, make sure your tool of choice, be it Squarespace, Wordpress or something else, can deliver on it. This one main thing is what you are going to gauge your happiness or frustration by. It’s what people are going to remark on about your site–in the positive or the negative–depending how right you get this.
Like writing, once you know your focus, everything else falls into place. Everything crystalizes around this core, so take your time and get the core right.
This is the most important thing.
Next week, we sketch out the rest of Karla’s site using her list of actions from question two.
Have a question about your Most Important Thing? Ask below. Others wondering the same thing will be glad you raised your hand.