Ensure your podcast website is designed with these six things to help grow your audience, engage better, and build your authority. These will help you whether you're hiring a designer, choosing a WordPress theme, or using a website-builder.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
1. A prominent player
“Visit website; press play.” That should be the goal of your website design or WordPress theme for your podcast. With such a simple design, you don't have to tell people to find your podcast in any particular app. You simply tell them your website address, and when they visit it, the design makes it obvious to press play.
This doesn't mean your podcast player has to be the biggest thing on the page, but certainly don't let it be hard to find or missing from the front page.
You don't have to have a podcast theme in order to have a great website design for your podcast. Take any other theme (I also like those from StudioPress, Themify, and Elegant Themes), and add a prominent player to it. PowerPress, Libsyn, Simple Podcast Press, and Smart Podcast Player provide great players for your website.
Your site's design then helps make these players more prominent. Such as placing your player higher in your content, but not necessarily at the top; having a large player with big buttons, instead of a small image; or making a prominent “playlist player” on your homepage or other appropriate pages.
2. A mobile-optimized experience
Podcasts are primarily consumed on mobile devices, so it makes sense that your website should be optimized mobile devices, too. To see what kind of traffic your website gets, use Google Analytics and go to Audience > Mobile > Overview, then add “mobile” and “tablet” together. (Other stats services usually provide similar information.) My Once Upon a Time podcast, for example, gets 50% of its traffic from non-PC devices.
“Mobile-optimized” means more than not using Flash. It means that the design and flow of your website adjusts to the size of the browser. This is called “responsive web design.” High-quality modern website themes support this without the need for extra plugins. The benefit of using a responsive theme is that it maintains your visual branding (fonts, colors, logo).
My favorite theme makers (StudioPress, Elegant Themes, Themify) make only responsive WordPress themes now.
Visit your own website on a small mobile device (like an iPhone 5/5s, which has a 4-inch screen) and see how easy it is to use. Is it as easy as “visit website; press play”? Does your player extend beyond the screen? Do videos scale proportionally so there aren't black bars?
Especially take note of how your widgets behave on small devices. The widgets may move to the bottom or disappear altogether. This is one of many reasons the sidebar is no longer as important, and you should avoid referring to items on your website by their horizontal locations (left or right).
3. Calls to action
Here's a general rule on calls to action: have one and repeat it.
Many podcasters are guilty of too many calls to action:
- Subscribe in iTunes
- Subscribe in Stitcher
- Subscribe in Google Play
- Rate and review
- Comment on the episode
- Share the podcast/episode
- Like on Facebook
- Follow on Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Pinterest, etc.
- Join the email list
- Buy something
- Visit a sponsor
- Email/call/record feedback
I say this with all love: STOP IT! We're often asking way too much of our audience, and sometimes before we have even given any value!
Think of your call to action as the one thing your want someone to do if they do nothing else. Now focus on making multiple calls to that one action.
And with every call to action, ensure you communicate the value you're proposing.
Include separate calls to action where most relevant. (I'll talk more about calls to action inside Podcasters' Society.)
4. A tagline description
Your website needs to communicate what your podcast is about within only a few seconds. Visual branding helps, but the clearest way is to include a short “tagline” for your podcast prominently on the homepage and a little less prominently on subsequent pages.
Think of your tagline description as how you would explain your podcast in fewer than 5 seconds.
5. Unified branding
Your website design needs to match the rest of your podcast branding. This doesn't mean you have to hire a professional web designer (though I can refer you to one). It can be as simple as using the same colors and imagery as you use in your cover art. (Matching fonts can also help, but that can be complicated.)
If we turned this into a game, could someone easily match your podcast cover art to your website design?
Stop thinking of everything you could add to your site. The more you add, the less you give. This “less is more” ideology has proven itself effective in many contexts. The fewer items you have on your website, the more focused a visitor can be on what they came to do.
Seriously consider everything already on your site to decide whether it truly needs to be there. Common things worthy of removal are social-network boxes (these can significantly slow down websites), sign-up forms (use a button and a popup), latest posts (think “most popular” instead), and categories or tag clouds.
Thank you for the podcast reviews!
- Michael Young from USA said, “Must-subscribe if you want to podcast. This podcast is always a must-listen, even if I already consider myself well-versed in a particular topic because Daniel ALWAYS looks at things from all the angles and always mentions something that I never thought about. The amount of research he puts into each episode is apparent as is the fact that he cares about his listeners and e-mail subscribers. I just started my own podcast, “Your Creative Push,” but I thank Daniel for helping to give ME the push to finally do it.”
Your reviews encourage me and they help other people find the podcast. If you appreciate the podcasting information I share, please write your own review on Apple Podcasts, Podchaser or Stitcher!
Use My Podcast Reviews to get your own podcast reviews automatically checked daily and learn how to grow your audience with reviews!
- Join me and Troy Heinritz for a live, free webinar on February 18, 2016! We'll share “Amazing Ways to Promote and Grow Your Podcast.” Click here to register!
Need personalized podcasting help?
I no longer offer one-on-one consulting outside of Podcasters' Society, but request a consultant here and I'll connect you with someone I trust to help you launch or improve your podcast.
Ask your questions or share your feedback
- Comment on the shownotes
- Leave a voicemail at (903) 231-2221
- Email feedback@TheAudacitytoPodcast.com (audio files welcome)
Connect with me
- Subscribe to The Audacity to Podcast on Apple Podcasts or on Android.
- Join the Facebook Page and watch live podcasting Q&A on Mondays at 2pm (ET)
- Subscribe on YouTube for video reviews, Q&A, and more
- Follow @theDanielJLewis
This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.
Similar to a player, I think we all should offer the native file (MP3, most likely) for direct download, as well as listing the file size and running time. Nothing frustrates me more than when I’m forced to poke around in SoundCloud or iTunes for 20 minutes just to download one episode to give a new show a spin.
I would also add a simple contact page — either an email form or a direct email address, and a simple about page with photos of the host(s). Perhaps that’s just me, but I want know who’s talking, and what they’re about. This can literally be a sentence.
Yes, the good players do provide a download option.
Contact information is less of design and more of features and functionality, which I’ll cover in the next episode.
A lot of people disable the download feature both on audio and video. Maybe because they want to control their statistics or keep people on the site, but I personally think this insults the user, and I will always go out of my way to download their original file, out of principle. If, by chance, they’re using non-standard sites like Squarespace which make it very hard to Inspect Element, I will leave and never come back. You’re dead to me.
This, unfortunately, is the by-product of iTunes and its cumbersome interface. It’s impossible to keep your list lean while sill “grazing” for new shows and episodes.
Another downside to disabling the download is for one-off listening, especially with s tool such as HuffDuffer. There have been a couple times where I wanted to hear only one episode of someone’s podcast, but the lack of a download prevented my HuffDuffing it.
Never heard of HuffDuffer, but the sentiment remains. Not all visitors want to subscribe and manage our files in iTunes before we’ve heard even a minute of programming.
Hey Daniel, great article as always and I absolutely agree with all of your points. Finding a good WordPress theme for podcasts is tough. I just hate cobbling together so many plugins and configuring the theme to look just right for your podcast. So we created a podcast specific theme of our own that you may find useful. Can check it out at podcastmotor.com/products/procaster-theme, and would welcome any feedback on the design and functionality. Always looking to improve.
he Craig, I checked out your theme. It is good but, I did not see a CTA to subscribe to the podcast via Itunes, stitcher etc on page 1. If you have that, I think it will make it better.