GUEST POST: As the founder of music website generator and marketing platform Bandzoogle, Chris Vinson is no stranger to artist web sites. In the 90's, after his own band broke up, the record label they'd been signed to hired him as a web designer for their multi-platinum artists. As he became overloaded with requests to update their websites, he created a "control panel" to let managers make the changes themselves. Chris realized that the program could also help indie bands build and update their own websites, and Bandzoogle was born.
More than ever, a band's website has become the "hub" of their online activity. The idea is to use social networks to grab a fan's interest and then direct them back to your website to make deeper connections. (More on that in a previous Hypebot post). By using this "hub" model, you're in control of your fan's experience, and most importantly, your fan list.
So, lets say you've got a new fan interested enough to click on a link or offer from your MySpace page. Is your website functional and compelling enough to keep their interest, and to get them to return?
Over the past 10 years, I've built hundreds of band websites for artists big and small. Whether they had 100,000 fans or 100, there has been a distinct trend in what works, and more importantly what doesn't. I've summarized them below:
Rule #1: No flash!
I'll admit it, in the past I've made all-Flash band sites. Dozens of them. They looked great -- and fans hated them.
The fact is, Flash just gets in the way of your content. Because of this, I've found that the use of Flash and the amount of return visits is inversely proportional. Fans don't care about swoopy animations, they want to learn about you and make a connection.
Rule #2: Make a strong front page.