Though it might be debatable, it's a commonly held belief that the home page is the most important page of a Web site. A home page must quickly communicate the soul of an organization to a visitor and provide a visitor with easy access to relevant information. Often, it is the most vital and heavily trafficked piece of real estate on your organization's Web site. We recently wondered: how effectively are performing arts organizations in the field using their home pages?
We conducted a survey that examined three common calls to action that we believe all performing arts organizations should have prominently placed on their home page:
- ordering and purchasing tickets
- donating or contributing money
- joining or subscribing to a mailing list or newsletter
These are three actions that most performing arts organizations want their Web site visitors to be easily take. So, just how easy are their home pages making it?
We were also curious to see how many organizations were still using splash (Flash introductions or animations, slide shows, etc.) or landing pages that delay the visitor from getting to the actual home page.
Click past the jump for more information on how we conducted the survey and for the results.
Methodology In all, we looked at 450 home pages of performing arts organizations across the United States. All 50 states and the District of Columbia were represented. There was a mix of dance, theatre, musical theatre, opera, symphony, and choral companies.
We asked two different people to review each home page for links or areas relevant to the three calls to action described above. They then scored each call to action using a scale of 0 - 5:
0 - Not on home page 1 - Hardly noticeable 2 - Somewhat noticeable 3 - Noticeable 4 - Very noticeable 5 - Immediately noticeable
We also asked reviewers if there was a splash or landing page prior to the home page. Finally, we gave the reviewers an opportunity to provide any general comments or thoughts on the home page and its design.
The Reviewers We used workers on Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk service to perform the reviews. 44 unique workers participated in the survey responses. At least two unique workers reviewed each home page.
I'll be talking about our experience with Mechanical Turk in a later blog post. To summarize, Mechanical Turk is a service that allows you to set up and pay workers for completing repetitive, simple tasks, such as a survey, that can be accomplished by a human computer operator.
Because of this crowd-sourcing approach, we manually reviewed the resulting data. We investigated and eliminated some data points due to inaccuracy or due to large discrepancies between to the two individual reviews for a home page. Ultimately, we ended up with valid reviews for 429 of our 450 home pages.
Results The detailed results are below. I was surprised at how well performing arts organizations are doing at making tickets available online. The results are quite strong in that area. The fact that 4.9% of organizations still have splash pages makes me cringe a bit, since I am completely against them. (Why make your users work harder to get to the information they care about?)
Another area where the results surprised me was the reviewer comments. The comments were optional and required that the reviewers spend some additional time to complete their response; given the nature of working as an Amazon Mechanical Turk, time equals money. Some of the comments were really in depth and revealing. This might be a reflection on the quality of the Mechanical Turk service, but it could also be due to the reviewers being excited about contributing and giving feedback to performing arts organizations.
If anyone has any questions about the results or would like any additional information about the methodology used in this survey, please post a comment.
|# of Home Pages Reviewed||429|
|% of Sites with Splash Page||4.90%|
|Ordering and Purchasing Tickets|
|% of Home Pages with a Score of 0||16.8%|
|Donating or Contributing Money|
|% of Home Pages with a Score of 0||21.9%|
|Joining or Subscribing to a Mailing List or Newsletter|
|% of Home Pages with a Score of 0||38.7%|
|% of Reviews with a Reviewer Comment||36.60%|
|% of Comments that were Positive or Neutral||54.1%|
|% of Comments that were Negative||45.9%|