Building a New Website: Kent Music’s Journey
When I started at Kent Music in September 2016 in the new role of Head of Communications, we immediately began talking about the need for a new website. The old site, only built in 2012, was starting to look a little tired and was difficult to navigate – even staff struggled to find the information they needed about our activities and services.
As a charity and Music Education Hub funded by Arts Council England, I was conscious that any website development and the corresponding budget had to have the backing of the Senior Management Team and be approved by our Board of Trustees, so a proposal went to the Board in December 2016. After this was approved, a group of staff were brought together to form a working party, representing parents, students and teachers: our core markets. Together we put together a full specification for design and functionality, and this went out to tender in February to six Kent-based agencies and individual website designers.
Four companies were brought in to pitch to the Kent Music team, presenting their ideas and budget, and in May, Maidstone-based agency Pillory Barn were commissioned to work on the project.
We wanted a site that was clean and simple, mobile-optimised and that focussed on giving the user all of the information they need to make an informed decision about music lessons, joining a group, attending CPD, accessing schools funding and other musical opportunities in the county. We worked with Pillory Barn on a user experience session, mapping out the customer journey, and relooked at all of the content on the old site to make sure it was clear and fit for purpose.
The site went live at the end of September and I hope the result is something that not only has a vibrant and modern design, but is also user-friendly. The site has new features including videos, a Frequently Asked Questions area, Feedback form and Meet the Team page. New ‘Find a Group’ functionality allows users to discover orchestras, bands or singing groups in the county by searching by area, instrument, level or type. Backend systems have been improved too, with development to integrate application forms and invoice payments automatically with Kent Music’s customer database.
We’re working on developing the content every day, responding to user ideas, and we already have plans coming together for a possible phase 2. I’d love to hear what you think – complete our feedback form or you can email me: [email protected].