One of the most crucial components of a radio station's website is the main menu. After all, this is the first thing most visitors click on when they're trying to find a specific page on the site. A good main menu makes the user experience pleasurable, while I bad one can be infuriating. If you haven't scrutinized the navigation on your website in a while, examine it with a fresh pair of eyes. Here's what should be in your website's main menu:
Perhaps people can return to your home page at any time by clicking your station's logo in the upper left-hand corner, but don't assume that everybody knows that. I used to leave “Home” out of the main menu because I figured everybody knew this. Then I started running website usability tests and I discovered that I was wrong. Apparently, there are internet users who are unaware of this secret. So I now include “Home” as the first item in the main menu of every website that I create.
On-air personalities are one of the most important differentiators between radio and streaming services, and as such, they deserve prominent mention. Listeners want to know more about their favorite personalities, so links to their bios or blogs should go in the main menu. Don't use the word “On Air” — everything your station does, from music to commercials, is on air. Don't say “Jocks;” that's industry jargon. To the average person, Tom Brady is a jock; Bubba the Love Sponge is not. Use “DJs” because that's the term your listeners use.
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If your station plays new music in current rotation, you'll probably want to include a link to the playlist in the main menu.
4. Events or Concerts
Concerts are events, so do not use both of these terms in the main menu; it's confusing. You can include Concerts as a submenu item under Events if you've got something else, like “Club Nights,” or “Street Team Stops” that you also want to include under “Events.” Otherwise, skip the word “Events” entirely and just use “Concerts.” The Concert Calendar page is often one of the most popular pages on a radio station's website…
…except when there's a global pandemic. During the COVID crisis, you've got a choice: either be diligent about noting all the cancellations and rescheduling with concerts, or — if you don't have the manpower to stay on top of it — remove this page from main menu altogether. Don't put a Concert Calendar full of outdated and erroneous information on your website.
Once again, this assumes that your station is running contests. If the pandemic has caused the prize closet to run dry, you may want to remove this from the main menu for the time being. Don't leave an empty Contests page up on your website.
If your station is producing podcasts, make them easy to find by putting them in the main menu.
“But wait!,” you cry. “We're putting our morning show's podcast on the morning show page, which is under ‘DJs'!”
Here's a dirty little secret about website navigation: It's okay to link to the same page in two different places. Some people will get to that page one way, and others will get to it another way, but the important thing is that they are able to get there.
For example, if you go to the main menu on this website and hover your cursor over “Events,” you will see a submenu item called “Webinars.” If you then move your cursor to “Resources,” you will see a submenu item titled “Webinar Recordings.” Guess what? Both of those links go to the same page. We discovered in our usability testing that folks were looking for the upcoming webinars under one heading and the past webinar recordings under another. Because we have both of those on the same page, we linked to that page from two different places in the menu.
I'm always stunned by the number of radio station websites I encounter that bury the link to the “Advertise With Us” page in the website footer, or worse, don't have one at all — just a “Contact” page. If people want to give you money, make it as easy as possible for them. The “Advertise With Us” page is arguably the single most valuable page on your website, so put an “Advertise” link in the main menu where everybody can easily find it.
This one is pretty self-explanatory.
This is a list of things to include in your main menu, but I've also compiled this list of mistakes to avoid.
One final note: Inevitably, after creating their main menu, website designers have leftover links that don't fit neatly as submenu items under any of the other headings, so they cram them all under a catch-all term. On radio station websites, that term is often something like “Connect With Us.” I'm not a fan of this kind of thing, but it happens all the time. Even on our own website, we have a catch-all term: “Resources.” Sure enough, these terms don't perform very well in usability tests, but sometimes they can't be avoided.
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