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Designing a Great Band Website
By Michael Allison - 01/27/2002 - 04:55 AM EST

Designing an effective and user friendly band website takes a little hard work and creativity, but is well worth it. In this section, we're going to list the Do's and Don'ts of creating a great band website. Most of the band websites out there need a lot of improvement so let's get started. I have yet to see an indie band website that had all of the top 10 things necessary for a successful website. If you know of one, I'd like to see it.

Good Content
For A Band Website to be successful, the website needs to have interesting and entertaining content. Give your visitors something to do while they are there. Give them a reason to come back again. Give them a reason to listen to your music. By adding entertaining and interesting items to your website, you will create an atmosphere worth revisiting time and time again. The most important thing is to Be Creative. Another thing, always check your spelling.

Band Photos
Pictures of you and your band make for some interesting content. Photos of live shows, professional photos, photos of you and your band in the studio are all good pictures to share with your fans. It gives them more reason to check you out further. The problem with photos is the loading time. To reduce the file sizes of your photos, make sure that you save them in .jpg format and reduce the image size to around 200 pixels. This will allow them to load faster and look pretty good.

Band Bio
Your bio is a description of your band and your music. Giving people the inside story on you and your music is a very good way for them to get to know you. It also gives any press or music business professionals important information if they stumble onto your site. Using your website to be one big virtual press kit is always the way to go. Let people know where you are from, what kind of music you play, your achievements and goals. Make it interesting and worth the read.

Contact Information
Your contact information (especially email) should be on every page of your website. You should also have a page devoted only to your contact information. Your contact info is your email address, phone numbers, booking information number, and home address. You never know when someone important will want to contact you. Don't make them search your whole site for an email address.

Adding MP3's and Audio files to your site is always a good move. If you are on a free server, you might not have the room to add a lot of MP3's. One is enough. Then just add a link to the site that the others are on. Make your website the only place where that particular mp3 can be downloaded. Then post this information on your mp3 sites. Adding a streaming audio file is a good move also. There are a lot of people who would rather listen to your song first before they spend a lot of time downloading it.

Meta Tags
Most websites out there do not have Meta Tags. Meta Tags help search engines place your website in their directory. If you have meta tags and a good title, you have an advantage over most of the websites on the web. Feel free to check the source code of this page to get a good idea of how to use meta tags and an effective title. In IE 4+, click on view, then source to view our meta tags and title bar.

User Friendly
This is probably the most important of all 10. Making your website user friendly is extremely important in keeping your fans and visitors coming back. Make navigating your website easy. Make sure that all of your important pages can be reached from every page on your site. Do not use frames, they are annoying and do not work with all browsers. Use good color choices that allow people to easily read your information without squinting. Make your pages load quickly so that users do not have to wait more than 20 seconds for a page to load. Most won't wait. Using flash and shockwave makes pages load really slow and are really annoying after a while. Who want's to see the same old movie every time they turn on the TV? The same goes with websites.

Update Often?
The Band who takes the time to update their site often will find that they will have more visitors coming back. If your site hasn't been updated every week or two, why should I look at it again? Would you like to look at the same old stuff every time you stopped by your favorite website?

Adding links to other websites that your band is featured on gives your visitor room to breathe, so to speak. Your links page should have every website that you can be found on. Preferably the link will go to that page that you are on. Plus, exchanging links with other websites increases your link popularity and raises your ranking in the search engines. The search engines won't find that link if it's not on your site though.

Band News
Band News is a way for you to communicate with your fans. It helps them to gain interesting information about you and your music. It also lets them know of upcoming events and shows that might be in there area. This could help you get more people to your gig.

Things Not To Do!

Bad Color Choices - Black is probably the worst color to use as a background. Anything that makes your site dark and depressing should not be used. It doesn't matter what type of music you play. Yes, even Metal and Goth bands! Plus it makes your pages hard to read. That is why newspapers and magazines are not printed on black paper! Most professional webmasters (the good ones anyway) believe that black is usually the sign of a bad website. I have trouble reading white text on a black background and I'm definitely not alone. Just because you think that it looks cool doesn't mean that it will be for everyone else. Black text on a light colored background will insure that everyone can read your pages. Also, do not use blue heading and titles. The color blue is the web standard for links. If it's not a link, It shouldn't be blue. A recent study showed that 87% of the web surfers surveyed said that they would not revisit a website with bad color choices. Use this to your advantage because there are millions of bands who have bad color choices on their websites.

Flash Movies - Although they may be cool to look at once, they get really old if you have to see them every time that you visit the site. Plus, most people do not have a broad bandwidth and can't enjoy the flash because it takes so long to load. Get rid of it.

Link Exchange Banners - The banner exchange programs are absolutely worthless and make your site look tacky. They do not use the effective target advertising so why waste your time. You'd be better off promoting your site other ways.

Too Many Banners - We would really appreciate it if you placed five of our banners on your index page, but nobody else would. One banner per page is more than enough. One at the top and one at the bottom is OK too. Plastering your links page with banners only makes your page look tacky. Text links and small graphical links are always best.

Entry Pages - I absolutely hate these pages. A big graphic that takes forever to download and there is nothing more. Then I have to click on the graphic to enter the site. I usually leave instead. Make your index page a page that is full of content and links to other pages with content. Entry's are for buildings not websites.

Don't use your or other artist pages as your website.- A website should have more information than can be fit on just one page. Plus, these pages will not give the visitor reason to come back time and time again. They are limited to what you can do with them. There are a ton of free website host out there and tons of free information on how to build a website, so use them.

Forgetting to SPELL CHECK - Everyone is guilty of this from time to time, but it's something that we can't forget to overlook. It doesn't stop at spell checking though. Proof Read your web pages to make sure that you don't miss the little things. I am guilty of this a lot. For example, "You CD's" instead of "Your CD's." Little things can make your look unprofessional, so I think that everyone, including myself needs to get on the spell check and proof read bandwagon.

Hiring a Bad Web Designer.- There are hundreds of people and design companies out there who think that they are great web designers. Here are some tips on who you should stay away from. Any web designer that tells you that your pages would look good with a black or dark color background with medium to dark colored text is an amateur. The web designers who want to add flash or shockwave movies, or some other high tech thing to your site are only trying to impress you and are not taking into consideration any visitors who have a slow bandwidth. Any web designer who thinks that frames are the way to go should be avoided at all cost.

If you ever have any problems building your website the right way, always feel free to ask someone for advice. If you need help building your website or doing something, just ask someone who knows. Most of the time they will be glad to help.

You can choose to use these tips and create a better website for your band, or you can choose not to. But if you're wondering why you only receive 200 visitors a year, your poorly designed website is probably the biggest reason. You're not going to get many fans like that. Use the tips and let the world know when your site is ready. Next I'll show you how to tell everyone about it.

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