I was amazed how hard it was to contact many of them and in general how badly designed many of the websites were. I’ve come up with 10 mistakes that you should avoid.
You don't have to be a web designer or computer expert to create a good, functioning website for your choir. It doesn’t have to have lots of bells and whistles, but increasingly, if you don’t have an online presence people aren’t going to be able to find out about you.
I’m amazed at how many awful choir websites there are out there. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to get it right, and it will make you look a lot more attractive and professional to concert bookers and potential recruits.
Here are 10 mistakes that you should avoid.
- don’t hide the “Contact Us” link – you’d think some choirs don’t want to be found! How on earth will you get concert bookings and new recruits if people can’t contact you? Make sure there is a clear “Contact Us” link on every page of your website and don’t just hide it at the bottom.
- make sure there’s an email contact – people have found your website on the internet. They are using a computer so they’ll usually want to email. Make sure you don’t have just a telephone number.
- check that your website hasn’t expired – I came across many choir websites in directories, but when I clicked on the link the website didn’t exist! Make sure your domain name doesn’t expire (you need to renew it every year or so). If you’ve got a brand new website name make sure the old name links to the new one. It doesn’t look very professional if your website address doesn’t work.
- have your own website – don’t rely on a listing on the council’s website or be part of somebody else’s. It’s important you have your own, independent website with its own name. It doesn’t have to be flash or big, an internet presence with some basic details and contact information can be enough.
- avoid boring photographs – you might think they look great, but bear in mind you want to attract new members and new audiences. I’m amazed at how many old-fashioned choir photos are still being used with lots of (usually old) people sitting in rows with the same uniform on. Dull, dull, dull!
- ensure that your website hasn’t been hijacked – or domain name expired. I found what looked like a really interesting site, malevoicechoir.net I assumed it would be a list of male voice choirs, but click it and see what you think. Clearly somebody had let the registration expire and a Japanese company has bought it.
- keep all your links up to date – there’s nothing worse than clicking on Concerts or Useful Links on a choir website only to be told the page doesn’t exist.
- speed your site up – some websites took so long to load that I simply gave up and moved on. This is often to do with huge image files (like photos) on the site. You want people to visit your site and stay on your site. Also Google has started to penalise slow loading sites.
- have your own domain name – even if you’ve used some kind of website builder or software package, it’s much better to have a website name like mychoir.com than mychoir.wordpress.com or wix.com/mychoir Also, have your own host so you have more control.
- don’t rely on a Facebook page – some choirs think that having a Facebook page is a cheap and easy way of having an online presence. However, you have far less control, can’t design the layout, and only a very small percentage of people will see all your posts (due to Facebook’s algorithm). By all means have a Facebook page as well, and make sure you put your website URL in the About section.
11. keep everything up to date – when’s the last time you had a really good look at your own website? Are concert details from 2009 still on there? Are your contact names up to date? Can it do with some new photos? Have you got your latest dates on there? All easy fixes, but do it regularly to keep on top of it.