Your website is the ultimate statement of your personal brand. It’s the home base for all of your music, media, contact info, latest news, and (hopefully) access to sign up to your newsletter.
While many musicians stress out over every detail of an impending music release, many fail to take the same precautions when it comes to their websites. Cutting corners and launching a website without much forethought can lead to a costly trail of redesigns, relaunches, and "under construction” notices.
To ensure your visitors have a pleasant experience perusing your site – preferably one that keeps them coming back – you’ll want to plan ahead and slow your roll before going live with your site. Aside from avoiding some egregious artist website no-nos when it comes to functionality and design, there are additional points to keep in mind when launching a statement that's meant to announce you’ve arrived on the scene.
Below are five items to check off when putting the finishing touches on your official footprint on the web.
1. Test all links
Nothing will interrupt, and quickly end, a user experience like a broken link. Before going live, hand your website over to a friend and have him or her read through every page and click on every link to ensure each actually go to where they’re supposed to go. Don’t just check the navigation links, double check all links within blog posts, your bio, links to your social accounts, and especially any links to purchase your music or watch your videos.
2. Proofread all copy
Don’t get lazy just because you think people in the music industry don’t care about grammar/spelling. You may be a rockstar, but you also want to be taken seriously in this business. With today’s technological advances, nothing screams “lazy” like a site that’s riddled with errors. Have a friend who’s an avid reader go over each page and make note of any mistakes. Even if you’re a former English major, don’t proofread your own site – you will miss things.
3. Test all browsers
One of the worst feelings when launching a new website is finding out that it doesn’t load correctly for a large subset of users. While certain plugins and platforms have been able to automatically adjust sites between browsers (i.e., Safari, Chrome, Firefox) and devices (i.e., iPads, smart phones, desktops), there are still instances when certain aspects of a site don’t properly load in certain browsers. Take the time to test your site on multiple devices and in multiple browsers. Even if you can’t avoid certain irregularities, being aware of them will make for a smoother launch.
4. Create a clear CTA
CTAs (or calls to action) are crucial for creating a valuable user experience. Don’t inundate visitors with too many choices. Keep it simple, and keep the instructions clear. What would you like them to do? Where would you like them to go next? Make sure when they arrive you invite them to sign up for your newsletter, download your music, or view your latest video. Feel free to change this CTA as time goes on and you have something else to promote.
5. Survey a focus group
Whether you ask a group of friends, fans, or complete strangers (via sites like usertesting.com), put in the time to step back from your project and listen to honest feedback on where you can improve before you launch to the public. You could either track user behavior with analytics or simply send them a brief survey. (Hint: A free download "thank you" gift can go a long way).
Questions like, “Without playing any music, what genre would you assume this artist performs?” or “After the homepage where were you tempted to go next?” can provide real insight as to whether or not your intended message/user experience hits its mark.
Launching a website is not an easy undertaking. There are a lot of moving parts to consider. The five on this list focus on dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s. For a more comprehensive rundown, download this free checklist to safeguard against branding missteps and avoid user blunders.
Suzanne Paulinski is a mindset coach and founder of The Rock/Star Advocate. She helps music industry professionals gain confidence and clarity in their goals with a healthy work/life balance. Her book,The Rock/Star Life Planner is now available on Amazon.