Websites play a huge role in the visibility of you and your company within the performing arts, and also give potential audiences an insight to what you do. With all kinds of information online these days, it is important to also have an online presence. There are two websites that you can have to help you within your artistic practice. It really depends on what you do and who you are. You can have a personal website or a company website. Or both.
Personal websites are used to promote an individual artist. Think of them as an accessible resume which is online for potential employers, mentees, or just other people within the industry to know who you are and what you are up to.
Important sections to include:
- About - the about section will explain who you are in brief (ie. your bio). You can be as thorough or brief as you are comfortable with, talking as much as you want about your history, how you got to where you are, what you do, and/or your future projects.
- Resume - people are arriving to your website to know what you’ve done, so including a full resume (CV) is important. Only include relevant experience that pertains to your artistic practice. If you feel that it is too much info to include, perhaps scale it down and only include a few recent credits (but having your full CV available to download could be an option).
- Contact - this is also important information to include, but also only include contact information that you are comfortable sharing online. If you are not comfortable with including your phone number, then don’t. But perhaps having your social media handles is wise. Also, many sites have options to include a contact form, so that you get messages directly to your email from the website, without giving out your email address. Think about your personal security and what you feel comfortable with, but also note that industry folks may want to get in touch with you and work with you, so figure out how you want them to contact you.
- External Links - are you a full time person working with a company? Or maybe work permanently at a few different places? Or even own your own company? Well your personal site is not your company’s, but it can be helpful to link to the external sites of the companies you work with so that someone coming to your site can go and see what you do.
- Documentation - this includes demo reels, headshots, production photos and video footage. Your personal website can include past works that you have done. For a potential employer, this can help you stand out and get the gig if they can see your past work right then and there. This is especially great for artists working in a creative-based role (actors, dancers, directors, choreographers, designers). Remember to include photo/video credits when necessary!
Although these things are suggested, they may not be necessary to your website. So consider what you do as a professional artist and who you want to drive to your website. Then, really decide what is important to include and what you can stay away from.
Company websites are exactly what they sound like - for an arts company to include information about who they are as an organization. Company websites are important for visibility within the industry. They can also be used for a variety of other things as well, besides just information.
Important sections to include:
- About - this about section can be broken down into a few different parts. In here, your viewers will likely want to know: who your organization is, what they do (their mission and vision, perhaps some history behind it, and bios of the key team members involved, including their name, role at the company, and (if comfortable) contact information
- Your Season - as a company, you may have a year long season that you present (and if you don’t, you are likely running shows throughout the year). People want to be able to access what you are up to, so include information about what you are working on and what is upcoming.
- Past Productions/Events - people also want to know the work you have done before this point. So, perhaps a list of past productions shown in a creative way (photo albums, descriptions of the shows, etc.).
- Other - this can include any community initiatives that you run, education programs, or other types of programming that you offer. Within that section, include details about the program, if there are applications (and if they are open), as well as how to get in touch with someone about the programs.
- Contact - contact information is key. As an arts organization, it is important to have people engaging with you and your company. Similarly to the Personal websites, you have to be comfortable with what contact info is on your site. Generally the contacts’ name and email are appropriate, along with your social media channels.
- Ticket sales - does your company sell tickets? Well your company site is an excellent place to do so. People who come to your site should be aware that you have an upcoming production and should then be able to buy tickets then and there, or at the very least, link off to the ticket page.
- Opportunities - If you are hiring for any positions, you can also include the application guidelines on your website, and perhaps even have people apply through your site.
- Donation Page - this is only for registered charities, as they are the only type of organization able to issue tax receipts *LINK TO DONATIONS AND TAX RECEIPTS. Registered Not-for-Profits are able to as well, but are not allowed to issue tax receipts, therefore they may find it harder to receive donations. Having a donation page available on your website is a great way for people to be able to extend their appreciation for your work, and as you know, every little bit helps!
What does your website look like? What colours are you associating yourself with? Your company with? How navigable is the site? These are all great questions to ask yourself when thinking about your web design. Whether you design your site yourself, or you have a web designer do it for you, definitely put some thought into both the aesthetic and the features.
Other things to ask yourself:
- What do you want your site users to see?
- What do you want them to know?
- What would you like them to be able to do on the site?
If you are stuck with how your site should look, navigate the web. There are billions of websites out there, so pick a few that you like and use them to inspire yours.
If you can’t afford a web designer, don’t sweat it! There are website builders that allow you to design your site yourself, and they are super user friendly and also free or fairly cheap. Weebly, Wordpress, Wix, and SquareSpace are just a few you can choose from.
Our online world is visual. By including visuals, you help compliment your text throughout the website and they will also help with the overall aesthetic and keep your viewers interested. Photos also help explain a lot of things.
What kind of pictures should you include? A headshot on your personal site is always a good idea as people often associate who you are with your face. Company photos are great for company sites. You can also include production shots from past shows, rehearsal photos, and other pictures that demonstrate who you are as a person or company. When selecting photos for your website, always remember to include highest quality photos. No photo is better than low quality.
Remember: it is important to include a photography credit where it’s due. Small text under the photo, or a line in your company credits page is usually accepted.
Also! caption your photos. This makes them accessible and helps ensure that your photos can be received by everyone. A caption explaining the actual photo just underneath is great!
Videos are similar to photos in that they give your website viewers an image of who you are and what you do. The videos you select for your site should speak to either who you are as an artist (perhaps you are a multimedia designer) or who you are as a company. For individual artists, videos are great to showcase talent (ie. demo reels for actors and dancers, etc.) Again, no matter what, make sure that the quality of the video is good so that your viewers can see the full effect of the video - you want to sound and look good!
Reminder to always give credit to the videographer/editor. With making your video accessible, you should always ensure that you have closed captions that are accurate and available to your website viewers.
One thing you should note about having a website is that there will need to be updates and maintenance done on it to ensure that it is up to date! As you continue to work and develop new stuff, you want to make sure that your site is up to date. Same goes for any organization. Again, think about who is viewing your site; possibly potential employers, or producers looking to hire you. If your site isn’t up to date, they may think that you are not working, have left the industry, etc. Best to keep your site up to date, even if it is just adding a few more lines to your resume every few months.
Hooplah - a Toronto-based web marketing agency. They can assist with online marketing such as Google Adwords campaigns, to help further market your show, performance, or organization online!