Awesome artists websites for 2019- 15 Apr 2019 -
Image: Ross Barber-Smith, web designer, music lover, awesomeness aspirer
In this interview, Ross from Electric Kiwi answers our questions about how the best websites are built! Read on to learn from his expertise…
What should you consider when building your music website?
There are quite a few things to think about! But I’d say the most important things are to think about what you want to achieve with it, and how to guide the audience visiting the site towards that goal, for example:
- If you’ve got a new release and that’s what you want people to listen to or buy, you need to make sure that’s the first thing people see.
- If you’re trying to grow your email list, make sure that it’s easy for people to sign up, and offer an incentive to try and encourage people to subscribe.
Other than that, I think making sure you create the best first impression is really important – especially as you’ll likely find that there are more industry people visiting your site than fans. Not always the case, but does seem to be the way things are moving at the moment. So, I’d recommend strong and professional photography, and a design which is organised and not too cluttered.
How do the best sites stand out in terms of supporting an artist’s brand?
For me, if you can tell what an artist sounds like (or get a good idea of what they will sound like) from the visual design of a site, then it already stands out! I think that the support of the artist’s brand is such an important point – and it’s all about making sure that the site itself represents the artist’s music in a visual way. They need to work in harmony.
How do the best sites stand out in terms of ease of use?
It’s all about keeping it simple. Perhaps not so much now, but I remember seeing so many sites which were completely overloaded with text, widgets, photos, videos, everything you can think of – and there was no clear direction. It’s overwhelming and confusing if there’s too much going on. So, ease of use really just comes down to keeping things simple:
- Make sure it’s easy to find your site menu (and make the links clearly named, so there’s no guesswork)
- Make sure text is easy to read and doesn’t clash with the background
- And, since we’re now in 2019, make sure your site is mobile friendly, too – which means it should be accessible on mobile without having to zoom and pinch!
What key sections are the minimum for a great website?
This one does vary a little depending on who you are and what you do, but for artists, I would always suggest including:
- Home (including featured release / mailing list signup / whatever your main focus is at that point!)
- Bio (ideally accompanied with a great photo)
- Music (an easy way for people to hear your music, with links to purchase)
- Media (this can be just photos or videos, or a combination of both, depending on what you have available)
- Shows (if you play live)
- Press (always nice to show what people are saying about you!)
- Electronic Press Kit /EPK (I think this is quite important so that busy journalists etc can have all the essentials in one place)
- Store (if you have one!)
- Contact (any relevant emails for general enquiries / booking / management etc + a contact form, so people have an easy way of reaching you without having to open their email)
Is building a website more about the art or the science?
For me, it’s a combination of both. I love the creative side of things (and I think for musician / artist websites, there has to be an element of creativity!) but it’s important to make sure you’ve got the more technical aspects covered too, as those really determine whether the website is useable and will do the job it needs to do for the artist!
What about SEO? How does that work?
SEO is important, but is also a bit of a project it itself! I can offer some basic advice to get started, but bear in mind that these things are constantly changing as the search engines evolve:
- Make sure your pages have individual titles and descriptions, rather than using all of the same ones
- Make sure your page titles and descriptions are relevant to the content on the page
- Make sure your site is mobile friendly (Google in particular are looking at this as a ranking factor at the moment)
- Use https rather than http if offered on your server – again, this is something that’s becoming more important
- Get links to your site from relevant blogs / publications – as more people write about you and link back to your site, this will help build authority (although I don’t think this is quite as important in the search engine’s eyes as it used to be!)
How does Social Media fit into website strategy?
Many people would say that social media has replaced the need for a website, but I disagree with that. I think it’s important to be using both, but recognising that the purposes are different. Social media is great for a more immediate interaction – and it’s really useful for guiding people towards your website. I would say that the website should be the “hub” for everything you do. And wherever possible, you should send people there. So, for example, if you have a new video – post it on your website and direct people there to view it. Why? Because while they’re there, they might then go on to learn more about you through your bio, or see what merch you have available in your store, or sign up to your mailing list. And I think integrating social media into your website helps to streamline things the other way, too – in that people who maybe found you on Twitter might not know you’re on Instagram, for example. But if you have that feed, or a link to your Instagram on your site, then they may follow you on there, too.
As I said, goals will vary depending on you as an artist and what your own personal and professional goals are, but generally speaking, your website should set a great first impression, tell people who you are and why they should care, and then either convert those visitors into customers, or subscribers. Very general, but those are the main things that apply to almost everyone!