Create a Simple & Effective Site for Your Music Program
Existence in the technology world today relies heavily upon an organization's website. The website acts as the nucleus of all electronic communications; links for digital media and materials are hosted through the website. No matter what level of marketing is required by your field, your ultimate goal is to drive your audience to the website.
Schools and educators can greatly benefit from being well connected with their "audience" - students, parents, school community - in today's digital age. Electronic communication, such as text messages, emails and blogs, have become a popular way to communicate; they are efficient ways to be able to quickly disseminate important and relevant information. These forms of communication have also become standard - even expected - in our age of 24/7 connectivity.
Having an individual site for your music program can also be great for advocacy purposes. In addition to a site benefiting your own membership and school community, it allows your program to act as an authority in music education and join a national - even international - audience in the music field.
Whether or not you already have a website for your program, the following suggestions will help you maximize your time and effort to ensure a successful online hub for your electronic communications.
Getting Started: Website Builder Platforms - Weebly, Wix, Wordpress
All three of these platforms offer free accounts that will allow you to build a basic site that will cover your needs. They are very intuitive platforms with drag and drop applications that make building (and updating) your site super easy.
Though, if your budget can support one of the levels of paid plans, I highly recommend making the investment. Some of the options, such as HD video and audio, larger sized files, expanded statistics and site search, are definitely worth the upgrade. Another reason to choose a premium plan is for aesthetics. Paid plans allow you to remove the website builder's name the bottom of the site. Doing this will give your site a more professional look.
Learn about each platform's different plans and compare prices by clicking below:
Building Your Site: Basic Pages - Home, Blog, Ensembles, Photos, Contact
The homepage obviously hosts important material like upcoming events (of which might include a calendar embed?), announcements and news, recent photos and social media feeds. Make sure the materials is easy to find and organized in a professional manner. This will also depend on the type of theme you choose. Always err on the side of a minimalist design; you want to make sure your content is the focus, not the design.
Some people in your organization might be interested in maintaining a blog. A dedicated blog could be a nice way to advertise student news - honor ensembles, all-state groups, solo awards, etc. - and noteworthy department news - local/national awards, concert schedule, festival ratings, etc. Your blogs could also consist of faculty spotlight features or music advocacy articles. Parent group officers could also contribute to the blog periodically to share 'thank-you' messages or first-hand benefits of their child's experience in music. Keep in mind, though, once you commit to starting a blog, be sure to maintain a regular publishing schedule.
Another important page would be the contacts page. Include a general phone number and email for the main webmaster, director or parent officer. You may even want to go a step further with a more complete directory of faculty and staff within the program, as well as parent officers (with appropriate permission).
Other suggested pages include separate pages for different ensembles in your program (concert bands, marching band, orchestra, choir) and a photos page (photo albums for specific events or large photo galleries). On occasion, you might have a dedicated hashtag for a particular event, in which case you can easily create an Instagram widget (click here to learn more) to embed on your photos page.
Most importantly, keep your website up to date! Nothing is worse than a site that has been abandoned; an outdated site is the quickest way to lose your audience - no one is going to rely on a site that hasn't been updated within a reasonable amount of time. Take the time to "clean-up" your site after events have passed or information is no longer current. Likewise, always have information readily available for the next upcoming event.
Website management can be a time-consuming task, therefore, it might be a great idea to have a small team (2-3 people) to act as administrators for the site. If your program is fortunate enough to have a secretary for the music program or fine/performing arts department, then that person might be a great choice for the day-to-day management. Another reliable person to be involved would be a parent group officer, like the president or vice-president; it might even be appropriate in your situation to create a webmaster position on your parent executive board.
Creating a website or blog for any organization, large or small, can be a large undertaking. Hopefully, with this information, as well as a good team of help, you will be able to successful create (or enhance) a site for your program. The next TWC Blog feature on websites will focus on integrations like Google and social media accounts that can further improve sites and integrate them with your daily operation.
Please know that TWC is happy to conduct a review of your existing website or even help you build a new one so that you are best positioned to represent online the great things happening in your music program. Visit twcmarketing.org to schedule an appointment or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck building your site!