Our recent series of posts about how to improve a radio station's website (using our local radio station WJMA as a case study) generated some good discussion both on- and offline. Rather than go back and alter the posts, I decided to just do a final roundup of ideas. Thanks to everyone who helped with this!
Don't be shy about your assets
Did you know that Piedmont Communications owns more than just WJMA? You wouldn't unless you went to their company page. On the home page for WJMA should be linked to WLSA, WCVA, WVCV, and WOJL, along with some indication as to their format. (Sorry, I couldn't find links to those other stations -- that's a whole separate issue).
This is important for two reasons: listeners and advertisers.
The iPod revolution has demonstrated that listeners are eclectic. While a person may prefer a particular musical genre, there's usually a few songs from other kinds on their MP3 player as well. A WJMA listener might occasionally go to another station for some variety. Letting them know what other music Piedmont Communications offers just helps keeps that listener within the Piedmont Communications family of stations.
As I said in the last post, a business' website often forms the first impression for potential customers. Current and potential advertisers coming to the WJMA site need to be aware that there are other stations. Don't rely on a sales call to explain it -- the modern business owner (and yes, even little ol' Orange County, Virginia has a growing number of them) will do online research on their own.
Don't forget the video
I talked about always having a digital camera at hand to take pictures to post on the site. Video's great, too. Clips should be short, and make some kind of narrative sense. And if its an entertaining clip, like an office prank, then post it on YouTube and other video sites. The more content you have on the web and the more places you have it ultimately increases traffic to your site.
Hotlinks are the key to a successful website. Any URLS in PSAs should be linked, as well as any articles referred to. Cross-linking between pages within a site is extremely helpful. If you're talking about something on another page in another category, don't make the reader go all the way back through the navigation menu to get there -- just link to it. They'll be more likely to visit that page, and more visits = more views for the sponsors on those pages.
No dancing baloney
Keep animation to a minimum -- especially with advertising banners. Also, go easy on the flash animation and other such distractions. While the goal is to monetize the site, ads should be carefully placed so they don't overpower the content (which is why the reader is there). And an excessive amount of banner animation can actually drive people from the site.
Did I miss anything? Add your comment below and let me know.