By: Seth Resler,
Jacobs Media Strategies
From time to time, Fred Jacobs pops into my office and asks me to take a quick look at a radio station’s website to see what I think. When I’m doing a five-minute diagnosis of a website, here’s what I look for:
1. Is it built in WordPress?
I always start by pulling up the station’s website and taking a look under the hood. In my Google Chrome browser, I go to View > Developer > View Source. This allows me to see the HTML code for the website. I search the page for “wp-.” If the site is built in WordPress, there will be multiple instances of “wp-.”
A radio station website doesn’t need to be built in the WordPress platform to succeed, but it does need to be built in a Content Management System (CMS) platform. A CMS makes it easy for radio stations to consistently publish new content. WordPress just happens to be the most popular CMS platform.
2. Does it have Google Analytics installed?
While I’m poking around the HTML, I also search the page for “ua-.” If I come across some code that looks like this…
<!– Global site tag (gtag.js) – Google Analytics –>
<script async src=”https://www.googletagmanager.com/gtag/js?id=UA-XXXXXXX-X”></script>
window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || ;
gtag(‘js’, new Date());
… then I know that the site has Google Analytics installed on it. This is a good sign — it means that the station has the ability to collect data about how visitors are using the website. Of course, whether anybody is actually looking at that data or not is a separate question.
3. Do they publish original content on a regular basis?
Next, is the radio station creating original content on a regular basis? Sometimes, the homepage will have a blog or news section on it; sometimes, I’ll have to search through the main menu to find it. If I find a blog or news section, I check to see whether they are creating original content on a local level or simply importing it from a national service. I also check to see how often new posts are published. And I take a quick look to see how good the content is: Are the headlines well written? Is there just an embedded video or audio file with no text description?
4. Is it obvious where this radio station is and what they play?
One of the best ways to see how good your station’s website performs is to run a usability test on it. At this point, I’ve run usability tests on enough radio station websites that I know some common issues to look out for.
One common issue is that the website does not make it clear where the radio station is, what type of programming the station airs, or even that it’s a radio station at all. When somebody tunes in to your station on the radio, of course they know what city it’s in — they’re in the same city!
But website visitors can come to your website from anywhere in the world. Often, they come by clicking on a link found on social media or in search engine results. So don’t assume that people who come to your website know what the radio station is all about. The homepage — especially the header — needs to make it very clear.
5. Is the language in the menu clear?
Another common issue that shows up in website usability tests is vague or confusing language in the main menu. For example, some stations will use the term “On Air” when they should use “DJs” (after all, aren’t the commercials and the music also “on air”?). Others will have a link for “Concerts” and another link for “Events” (aren’t concerts also events?).
Here are some common menu mistakes that I look for.
6. Are there clear calls to action?
The most important question you can ask when it comes to your radio station’s digital strategy is this: “When people come to our website, what do we want them to do?” I can usually tell if a station has asked this question just by looking at the site. Sometimes, they will be driving me to clear call to action, such as a big red “Listen Now” button or an email newsletter registration form.
Unfortunately, most radio station websites don’t steer me towards a few clear actions. Instead, they are cluttered with too much content, too many links, and too many choices. This is a sign that even if a radio station’s website is good at attracting visitors, it’s not very good at converting them. The station needs to set clear website goals.
By asking these questions, I can usually get a good sense of how a radio station’s website is performing. Yes, I always want to spend more time diving deeper into analytics before making a complete diagnosis, but this will do in a pinch.
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