What would you look for in the design of a radio station website?
May 12, 2006 2:38 AM   Subscribe

What would you look for in the design of a radio station website?

I have a project to do, looking at national radio websites and coming up with a feasible (and impressive!) design of my own. I have come across 5 UK websites in the last few days and picked my favourite 2 designs:-


Can you think of any design critique here that will stop me making the same mistake these websites have (if any)? What negative points can you say about the designs of these sites? Rather than just focussing on what I SHOULD do, I'd quite like to know what things to avoid. But design only please, I don't need to know anything about content. Thanks!
posted by angryjellybean to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The BBC radio pages are too cluttered. I would prefer less featurettes, photos, news, "lifestyle" etc, and more prominent comprehensive scheduling and important upcoming show reminders on the front page. The BBC "listen" button is nicely placed and prominent, but for someone who goes to a page just to listen to the radio, the BBC pages don't work well, IMO.
posted by fire&wings at 3:20 AM on May 12, 2006

I agree with fire&wings. I think almost all radio station websites are way too cluttered. Why not do something new and design it with a minimalist look.
posted by Jesco at 3:43 AM on May 12, 2006

Agree - too cluttered.
posted by blahtsk at 5:41 AM on May 12, 2006

For the love of god, if you are going to have a listen online button make it easy to find. Maybe something prominent on the top of the main page.
posted by jefeweiss at 5:49 AM on May 12, 2006

On the WRXV, they have a running ticker of what's currently playing, and you can click through to the songs that have been played in the last hour. It seems to be run by a third party, but they did once have their own home-grown running log of the songs and artists that were being played.

In my personal opinion, this is hands down the the most important thing to be on a music radio station website, especially if the DJs aren't always that great at filling you in on what was just played.
posted by nelleish at 6:06 AM on May 12, 2006

ah, sorry, I didn't read the whole question :-/

As far as design, I agree that clutter is a big problem, the side tab with links is something browsers are familiar with, so I think it's alright to not dump it all on the main page and instead let them click through.

Most people come to a radio station website (I would wager) to either a) listen online b) find out what the station plays or c) follow up on some promotion being made or a contest. If those are clearly visible on the main page, at least I would be happy.

I don't think folks browse for content, or music reviews, or whatever, athough in the case of national stations such as BBC that could be true.

Minimal is good, animated icons should be limited to one if any, it's distracting.
posted by nelleish at 6:15 AM on May 12, 2006

I think the clutter endemic to so many radio station websites is a direct reflection of the nature of the business. Radio stations (at least rock and pop stations) are hip-deep in the promotion business. Concerts, acts, DJ appearances, contests, etc. Add to that the necessary co-sponsors for different events and you have a need to clutter the website will all the crap you're promoting.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:28 AM on May 12, 2006

I really like (in no particular order):

http://www.wrsi.com/ (self-link)

All of them have lots of content on the front page without being obnoxious like what seems to be the norm in radio station web design.
posted by TurkishGolds at 6:40 AM on May 12, 2006

Maybe start by considering the major groupings of site visitor goals (as nelleish mentions, but there may be more - e.g. businesses considering buying ads). Then make it easy for each group to zero in very fast on an area specifically focused on them. The "area" could mainly be a link to a page focused on their needs/desires.

I often start by making an actual list of questions by user type, and it seems to help a good deal. The most important ones are usually fairly obvious, and the question brainstorming can turn up things you wouldn't think of otherwise. And it help with seeing new, better ways to group things.

Then, if this is an issue, perhaps provide some sensible way/area for sponsors, etc., to have their messages put up. I'd suggest making some kind of written policy about this (sizes, word lengths, animation, color schemes) in collaboration with your client.

I don't really understand the radio business; the above suggestion is derived from what others here have said. Of course you'll know the business side of things better.

You may also need an area for current announcements (I know, you didn't ask about content, but I'm talking about content _areas_). You decide with your client whether it makes sense to have this on the site of a radio station, but most of my clients end up wanting it.

Perhaps planning for the chaos of "just add this to the home page" can help prevent the horribly cluttered look that so many of this type of site have.

(Should any of you happen to find your way to my own site, it's not really reflective of my work - the thing is very very old; I'll update it someday...)
posted by amtho at 6:52 AM on May 12, 2006

Having worked in a college radio station for four years, I must agreee with jefeweiss-- the "listen live" button is more or less the point of your online presence.

I'd like to see what you come up with!
posted by themadjuggler at 7:15 AM on May 12, 2006

I'm not sure this is under your control, but please please please please please offer multiple online-listening options. There are still plenty of folks on dial-up connections, and folks with strange configurations, and folks who are adamantly opposed to RealPlayer, and you get the drift.
posted by box at 7:35 AM on May 12, 2006

Looking at the front page I should be able to find links to these three things immediately:

-Listen live
-Schedule (ideally 7 days past and 7 days forward)
-Programming Archive (if applicable) with easily found search that allows Boolean operators

Station news, of the "We have a new programming director" type, should never be on the front page. Even if you're a small community station with 300 listeners, 280 of them still don't care.

Yes, definitely avoid clutter: if you actually post some of the day's schedule to the front page, make it either only the next couple of hours worth of shows, or selected highlights form the whole day.

If you have to have a ton of promotion banners and what not on the front page, then remove as much else as possible. For instance, if you have to give up real estate that would normally go to program listings to a banner, move the listings off the front page, don't just shrink them down. Looks like ass.

DJ playlists, yes. DJ blogs, no.

I don't care if you have a studio webcam, unless you do a lot of interviews with famous people. Even then, don't put a periodically refreshed webcam pic on the front page. Even in 2006, the image quality is still too crappy.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:40 AM on May 12, 2006

Less flash is more flash, for the love of god.
posted by dong_resin at 8:52 AM on May 12, 2006

Listen now - in more than one option (especially making sure it doesn't omit Mac users or people with a hate-on for Microsoft).

A schedule on its own page (so it can be printed out and put on my fridge and highlighted so I won't miss that interview with Radiohead in six days). Prominent link to this on front page.

Playing now info, or failing that, playlists posted within an hour or so of the show.
posted by joannemerriam at 11:07 AM on May 12, 2006

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