The Nielsen Norman Group is made up of researchers who have literally written the books on user experience and usability. Their website is full of helpful articles that you can use to make improvements to your website that are supported by actual research and core to how humans interact with interfaces, not just what’s trendy and looks ‘current’.
On October 30th they posted the article “Top 10 Enduring Web-Design Mistakes” that provides a great summary of persistent underlying issues we need to keep in mind when designing websites.
A couple stuck out to me as particularly applicable to performing arts websites:
“People want to know about prices, subscription fees, convenience fees, and additional charges before or at the beginning of a process.”
Whether it’s waiting to add service charges until the payment page, or not publishing subscription prices up front, I know lots of organizations are guilty of this one, and it’s not doing them any favours.
“Remember that users scan, not read, online. Make it easy for users to pick out information of interest, by writing for the web: use short sentences and paragraphs, bulleted lists, headings, and bolded keywords.”
I’m a big fan of providing more information for those who are truly interested. But let’s be honest, artist bios and program notes are only going to affect ticket buying decisions for a tiny fraction of patrons. So sure, provide that kind of detail for those who want it, but keep it discretely tucked away behind a few highlights that truly matter to the majority of ticket buyers.
While tackling “user experience” issues might seem daunting, the good news is that many of the ten issues they list are content-related, so there’s no need to undergo a complete redesign of your site to start making progress today.