Is your website letting you down?

It goes without saying that station owners put their heart and soul into what they broadcast. But as with any business, the online presence – your website – has to be taken into account too.

Visit the website of your local FM station and you’ll likely see a smart site full of content. From podcasts of people’s shows to music videos, presenter photos and profiles, the station’s schedule of shows and maybe some local news or weather.

The design is fluid, intuitive and there’s nothing there that doesn’t need to be there. No spinning words and flashing icons. They have a coherent design, lean features and everything is there for a reason.

More importantly, station web sites give listeners a chance to connect with the broadcaster and gives station owners a chance to build an email database of their listeners / supporters.

Now I am not saying you need to emulate all the content of a top notch corporate broadcaster. But study their sites and compare them to yours. OK, you might not be able to have the same level of content, but good sleek design costs nothing. Just a bit of thought and self-restraint.

Unfortunately, too many people are launching digital radio stations and aren’t putting enough thought and effort into their website. OK, we are not all web designers…but here’s my my quick guide to the basics you should be aiming for.

  1. Your site must, must, must work on all platforms. 80% of people visit websites using their smartphone. If your site doesn’t work natively on a phone/tablet then you are missing out (it’s not a good look, people won’t give you a second chance).
  2. Have two audio players. One on the front page (useful for smartphone users) and a second in a popup window for desktop users. Having an audio player in a popup window allows visitors to change website pages and still have your station playing in the background. On some sites I have visited I have either had to search long and hard for the player, or it took three clicks to find it – it’s not good enough.
  3. Just because you can choose any colours you like it doesn’t mean you should go mad. Stick to two or three colours maximum. For example, a dark background, grey text and colour for highlighted text (active links). Keep it simple.
  4. Social media – make sure there are social sharing buttons so visitors can show their followers your station.
  5. Ensure all images are optimised. I.e; the file size needs to be as small as possible while being the best quality for display.
  6. Have a contact form and an account with someone such as mailchimp to build an email database.
  7. Display currently playing and just played songs

What you need to do now

  • Grab your smartphone and look at your website. Even better, get a friend to use their phone to look at your site and have them tell you how easy it is to use (can they find your audio player in half a second flat?).
  • Look at your website and remove anything that doesn’t need to be there.
  • Look at the colours. Can you actually read the words without squinting or guessing?
  • Is the site consistent?
  • Does it load fast?

Want to get up to speed with designing a website that will really serve you and your visitors? Get Steve Krug’s book Don’t Make me Think.

Steve Hart

Steve Hart

Steve Hart is a journalist and editor based in Melbourne.

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