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Web Design for the Arts and Entertainment Industry

Summary –

A premade template won’t do for your art or entertainment website (unless your goal is to merely have a website).  Arts and Entertainment web sites should be designed for their particular project and project goals.  Different disciplines within the industry will have different needs. 

This page is all about arts and entertainment websites.  First I’ll cover some very broad needs for the industry.  Further on I address websites for particular disciplines within the industry.

What the Arts and Entertainment Industry Needs From a Website

Though the arts and entertainment industry is vast there are some common needs for all of its websites.

  • A website particular to their project, audience and industry
  • A highly usable website
  • An easy to manage website

Arts and Entertainment Industry Needs a Website Particular to Their Project, Audience and Industry

Arts and Entertainment Industry Need Web Design for their Project, Audience and Industry - Web Design for Arts and Entertainment Industry
Whether its debuting new art, keeping people up to date or providing events listings, your arts and entertainment web design should be effective for your project.

What are the goals for your website?  Are you looking to provide access to your music or art?  Generate subscribers?  Provide an events schedule for the upcoming season?  All of the above and many more?

Define the goals for your project.  Defining your goals before your project begins will allow you to get the most out of your web investment.  By defining your goals, all of them, you will get a website that works for you and your visitors.

Defining your goals doesn’t need to be a fancy project, grab a sheet of paper and write everything you want to accomplish with your website.  Once you are sure every goal is on the page, prioritize your goals.

You can prioritize your goals in terms of what you want most to what is less important to accomplish, by what your visitors would value most, by when you want to accomplish them (for instance time sensitive goals and/or what you want the next step of your website to be) or prioritize your goals how it makes sense for your brand.  The important thing about prioritizing goals is that you get and can articulate a clear picture of the purpose for your website.

You might find that once you begin writing that you have a lot of goals, but you might not.  If you only have a few goals for your website that is just fine.

When you have an idea of the pages that you want on your site, you should repeat this process for each page.  What are the goals for each page?  Defining the broad goals and more specific goals is a critical and oft overlooked step.

Your arts and/or entertainment website should be designed particular to your project in order to showcase your personality and that of your work.  It should be designed specifically for your visitors, not those of another in your industry.  To be a great asset to your brand your web design should effectively address your goals and your visitors needs.

Each artist will have a fairly particular audience that will be visiting their site.  Their audience might be looking for a variety of things for instance contact information, portfolio work, show schedule and purchasing information.  Artists sites need to anticipate and accommodate their audience and the actions they will be taking on the site.

Arts and Entertainment Industry Websites Need to Be Highly Usable

Arts and Entertainment Websites Need to be Highly Usable - Web Design for the Arts and Entertainment Industry
Your visitors should enjoy your intuitive, carefully planned and completely working website. You should reap the benefits of web design that makes it easy to engage with what you are offering.  A website that prevents visitors from getting what they are after is like a building without doors and electricity.

The arts and entertainment industry is strewn with poorly functioning websites.  From band pages to photography portfolio sites, you don’t need to look far to find one.  Don’t lose traffic due to a poorly functioning or designed website.

What is it that you want your visitors to do when they arrive on your site?  Sign-up for a newsletter or mail list, buy your prints or music?

Usability is a key component of providing a fantastic user experience.  A great user experience is a key to your website goals.  Usability impacts how your visitors engage with your content and the other actions you want them to take on your site.

A highly usable site allows the right people to find and access the right content.  The site loads quickly and the visitor feels as though they are engaging directly with your brand (not the website).

SEO (search engine optimization) is a little different for the arts and entertainment industry.  Checkout (links out of site) “Music SEO – 7 Lessons in Brand Optimization for 2015,” by Dan Shure for a few examples and ideas.  Even with some differences artists, entertainers and others in the industry would benefit from common SEO practices.

Many aspects of designing with your users in mind will overlap with SEO web design.  For instance, headings identify to visitors and search engines what your page is about.  Without headings your site becomes difficult to navigate.  Without headings search engines will be less equipped to identify what your page is about which will diminish your ‘relevancy’ and lower your success at getting good SERP’S (search engine results page rankings).

If you are a rock band from Iowa and you want people searching for ‘rock band in Iowa’ you need to have that phrase on your page.  If it is on the page, your visitors will be able to search and find it both on your website and through a search engine.  This is an example of a keyword.  For the keyword “rock band Iowa” at the time of this writing, most of the results aren’t bands, only 2 rank on the first page of a google search.  This would be a lower competition and lower traffic key word to rank for.  You should consider what your visitors will be searching for to find you and ensure that you have that phrase on your website.  Increasing the ranking your site gets per keyword is a marketing task but to start with make sure the keywords you want to rank for are on your site.

Your visitors should be able to quickly get what they are looking for.  When your visitors push play on your image or music gallery it should work.  Your site should be designed to create an atmosphere of engagement with you/your work.

Arts and Entertainment Industry Websites Need to be Easy to Manage

Arts and Entertainment Industry Websites Need to Be Easy to Manage - Web Design for the Arts and Entertainment Industry
Managing your website should be as simple as reading a book in a grassy field. Hyperbole aside, it should be simple for you to keep you visitors up to date, showcase new material or whatever your main tasks will be.

Your website should be simple for you to update and manage.  It should be easy for you to add news, new work, new merchandise update the show schedule etc.

I work with WordPress which is fairly simple out of the box.  I go further in tailoring the backend where relevant to your specific needs, to what you will actually be doing with your site.

Obstacles to Arts and Entertainment Online

Time and money are often obstacles for many artists to getting a quality website.

I can build a website for you that will be simple to update which should save you the time to focus on more important things.

A good quality site can be affordable as well.

Another major obstacle is poorly defined goals.  When I visit myriad of photography sites whose design clashes with their photos, or a musicians page where you can’t find or play the music, or a videographer whose videos don’t work, and all the while some other less relevant aspect of the site design is most prominent I conclude that the goals for the project were overlooked during the planning stage.

Web Design for Musicians and Bands

Benefits of a stand alone website for musicians/bands:

  • Brand Control
  • One stop shop for fans and followers
  • Increased credibility and distinction
  • Increased Visibility
  • Content Control
  • Great promotional tool, resume/portfolio
  • A central hub for fans

There are lots of different musicians with lots of distinct reasons for having a website.  Name your reasons for your website.

If you are a band or a musician looking for web design you are most likely looking to update your current site or take a next step up for your brand from (links leave site) Bandcamp, SoundCloud and ReverbNation.  These are great tools for a band or musician.  Social media like facebook and twitter (links leave site) are useful tools as well.

A solid next step is a website specific for the goals you have identified for your band or you.

Web Design for Visual Arts

Benefits of a stand alone website for visual artists:

  • One stop shop
  • Increased credibility and distinction
  • Increased Visibility
  • Content Control
  • Great promotional tool, resume/portfolio
  • A central hub for updates
  • Brand Control

Photo quality and placement is very important to all visual art websites.  The photography and photos used will be the best representation of the artist’s work that a user will see.  With this in mind it becomes crucial to the effectiveness of the web site that the design does not interfere but rather elevates the artist’s work.

The most common places where the design interferes with showcasing the artists work that I have come across are:

  • Color clashing between the background and the main image
  • Thumbnail overload (where there are so many thumbnails in such a small space that a visitor is unable to distinguish between images)
  • Poor navigation and search functionality (to where a visitor would not be able to find nor know where to look to find what they are looking for)
  • Distracting elements (poorly constructed sidebars, sites with entrances pages that open in new windows, gallery sliders that don’t work)
  • Font failures (contrast between background and font color is not enough or font color is abrasive or font style obstructs readability, or font is much to small)
  • Lack of goals for the site ( when I don’t know what to do when I get to the site for example)

Web Design for Writers

Benefits of a stand alone website for writers:

  • Control
  • Promotional tool/resume
  • Central hub for news and info
  • One stop shop
  • Increased credibility and distinction
  • Increased Visibility

Social media provides a great tool for writers.  Places like Facebook and Twitter offer a space for writers to connect and update followers in a semi-casual atmosphere.

Most websites for writers that I have seen would fall into the category of web design known as a brochure/portfolio site with varying degrees of ecommerce (usually a link off site).

Why do I Have a Focus on the Arts and Entertainment Industry?

The arts have always been a part of my life.  The arts enrich life.   Web design for the arts and entertainment industry is a way I can support the benefits that the arts offer.