Obviously, my passion is radio station websites. I spend a lot of time navigating radio station websites all over the world and consider their efficacy from both a marketing and user perspective. I’m often surprised by odd navigational choices, inconsistent calls-to-action, and content that provides little informational value, much less a reason for me to return again tomorrow.
Your website should have fresh and relevant content, but it should be attractive so that it invites visitors back. Visitors flock to attractive destinations. A website with a great design and relevant content provides a better user experience that can help in building your station brand, gaining more visitors, and boosting your digital sales.
Is your website a destination or a disappointment?
As an industry, radio is faced with doing more online or falling behind. This means increasing competition for online visitors, not just people listening to your terrestrial station. So, we must continually ask ourselves, “Is my website a digital destination, or a disappointment?”
We’ve preached many times that all digital roads – from social media, organic and search, digital display and ads, and email campaigns – should all lead to your websites. So, it must be up to the challenge. I’m talking about containing useful and engaging content, information that is easy to find, and tasks that are simple to complete.
You might look at your station website every day, so it may be difficult to look at it with fresh eyes. Regardless, try pretending that you’re someone new to town and have never been to the site. Ask yourself these questions…
- Why would I want to visit this website today and what would make me come back tomorrow? Can you immediately see something that would immediately draw you in, if you simply stumbled onto the website without any prior knowledge of the radio station?
- What do the website owners want me to do once I get here? Is their main focus me entering a certain contest, visiting a local event, learning about news in my area, or just playing the stream? By the way, playing the stream is NOT a call to action or end game. It should be what the person does WHILE they navigate around the website.
- Is the website well-organized with easy navigation and clear calls to action? Multiple slides of every daypart are not effective in moving people around the website. They are most often a distraction.
- Can I easily find the information I’m looking for? I should be able to easily find specifics about a news story, event, contest, or even something about the on-air personality.
- Is your navigation menu clean and in words that regular people would understand rather than industry jargon that is only familiar to us radio people?
- Can I complete tasks easily? Examine the process of signing up for a contest or contacting the radio station. What obstacles could be removed to make these processes easier and faster?
- Does the website support the station and company brand? When you have multiple people editing the website, brand updates and site updates can become disjointed. Does the logo look the same as it does on your social channels or is it a different color or stretched to fit a certain box? These small details can convey a disjointed brand experience.
Prioritizing the User Experience
User experience (UX) refers to the process of designing and creating digital products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. Regular usability testing is a crucial component of UX.
If you’ve never completed a website usability test, Seth Resler with Jacobs Media has some great tips for that in his “Connecting the Dots” blog: https://jacobsmedia.com/conduct-usability-test-radio-stations-website.
Monitoring how real people interact with your site is an effective way to determine whether visitors are:
- Navigating your website without getting lost or frustrated
- Completing actions successfully, like signing up for a contest or your newsletter.
- Encountering bugs or functionality issues (after site updates or redesigns)
- Leaving your site with a positive or negative impression
How do you tweak your website into becoming a destination?
- Prioritize usability & user experience: Look at the site with fresh eyes like we mentioned. Then take Seth Resler’s advice and create a usability test for your staff members, friends, family, and associates. If you can get regular listeners to complete this, even better. If you can’t get someone into a room or over a video call, consider making a private online form with Seth’s questions and send a link to it to your newsletter database to gain their insight. Take action on that insight.
- Set goals: Everyone with website access should have a clear definition of what you want to achieve through your station website. Broadly, it should be to engage and entertain visitors with relevant information and to keep them engaged on your site for as long as possible – day after day. Dig a little deeper into that though. What’s the most important thing you want visitors to do this week? Make that action easy as possible and promote it heavily on-air and over social media.
- Have fresh content daily: When your content is fresh and relevant, visitors will want to return and return often. Don’t expect everyone to automatically know it’s there though. Promote specific points of your website (not just generalities) each day on-air and over social.
- Make your website stand out: Compare your website with others, especially your competitors, and see how your site is different in design and quality of content. If the look and feel of your website is outdated or too similar to others, then go for a makeover with a modern design. Are you beating your competition in how you implement contests, display events or news, or other content? If you do decide to do a usability test with people outside the radio station, compare their experience with your competitor’s website as well as your own.
- Ensure your site is SEO friendly: An SEO-friendly website makes it easier for search engines to crawl and assess your content. If your pages, blog posts, news articles, and images are missing key components to help SEO, then you can easily start trailing your competitors that get this right.
- Ensure your images are sized correctly and optimized to load fast: A slow-loading website is one of the biggest complaints in user testing, so it’s a very important thing to look at. If you have many images on your homepage, it’s vital that they are optimized to load quickly. Unfortunately, many content creators are radio people like us and not up to speed on Photoshop or other image editors.
Visitors flock to attractive destinations that have fresh and relevant content. They return because they had a great experience. Finding content, entering a contest, or contacting the radio station was easy to do. People return to destinations like Disney World because of the great experiences they have. Take a look at your station website with fresh eyes and put some of these practices in place to make it the best destination it can be.
Need help with that? Reach out to us.