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Dance Website Checklist

October 19th, 2013
contra

Do you run a contra dance? How's your website? You have three main groups of people looking at it: people new to contra, your regular dancers, and dancers from out of town. Ideally you have a site that answers their questions quickly and easily, but in putting together trycontra.com I came across many sites where key information was very hard to find. So here's a checklist for dance websites:

Have a website
Your dance should have one. This makes it easy for people to pass links to the site, see it in searches, and provides an official source for the information below.
Have a clean domain name
It's much easier for people to remember "bostoncontra.com" than "people.example.edu/~abc/dance," and it also looks more like a real dance website.
Have the date, time, and location of your next dance
While people visiting your site don't all have the same goals, a lot of them want to go to your dance. Put this on the first page people will see.
Include the full street address
While your regular dancers know what you mean when you say the next dance is at the "Park Ave Congregational Church" or even "PACC," new dancers and people from out of town don't. Also say "50 Paul Revere Rd, Arlington, MA". Don't just say "50 Paul Revere Rd" and figure that the town is obvious: maybe someone came in from a search and don't know whether the dance is in their town or not. A link to an external mapping site can be helpful here too.
Include the year in dates
Dances come and go, but sometimes when a dance goes its website stays behind. By including the year when you post dates it's clear to people that your dance is current, and if someday your series does fold it will be clear to people from the out-of-date dates.
Post an email address
No matter how good your website, some people will have questions. Maybe they want to know what age range is ok at your dance, or they're a band putting together a tour and wondering how your booking process works. Let them ask you!
Say how much it costs
To someone new to dancing the words "live music" can imply this is a $30/night sort of deal. Let them know they can afford to come, and that if they like it they'll be able to come regularly.
Post a general schedule pattern if you have one
If your dance is every Monday except in July and August, or every first and third Sunday, say that. If you had to choose between the recurring pattern and specific dates I would say go for the dates, but you don't have to choose.
A picture is nice
There are lots more details about your space and community than you can explain well in text, but a picture from one of your dances can help fill in that background.
If it's not on the front page it doesn't count
What matters isn't that information is on your site somewhere, but that someone looking for it is likely to actually find it. You make this way more likely by putting the information on the first page they see.

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