Steven Lowell of Realtime Casting writes as to why a poor website may just affect the opinion of your voiceover quality
You cannot see me right now, but on a lunch/dinner break I decided to dig into information received this summer about a timeshare home for vacation next year. It is cold and December. I like the sunshine, and I needed to warm myself up.
However, my experience with this timeshare website left me happy it is December and cold. I felt inspired to sneak this blog in for voice talent because I often see voice talent focus on “appearance” of a website, before functionality. To many, the appearance of “quality” is good enough, but voice talent all know by 2014 how other websites are doing well despite claims the talent are not “quality”.
First, I do not like to insult people. I remember where I started and how I felt at a time when I had not yet defined my self-worth. For years, I focused on “quality audio”, but then websites came along making the process easier for hiring and it seemed “quality audio” was no longer enough. In the past 7 years, I have discovered that a poor functioning website can in fact leave a person believing they have no idea how to work in voiceovers. Yes, it is true and I will explain why.
Are you kidding?
Do not kid yourself. It does not matter if you are the most amazing voice talent in the world, if a link is broken on your website or the mapping of the website takes people to dead pages or unexpected pages, they may see it as a reflection of your ability to get voiceover work. You may get work all the time offline and that is great, but if you subject yourself to the online arena where everyone is a genius because we can all do Google searches, you will find even the biggest businesses will not waste time on strangers if their website has problems.
Perhaps, the first time I thought of this was after the President of the United States released the Obamacare website. Now, debates aside about the policy, the one singular complaint that people focused on first was, “The website is unusable!”. As a result, they pointed that to be one of many reasons why Obamacare was a bad idea. The complaints of the website went so far as to say, “The President has no idea what he is doing online”.
Anyone with a website is open to such ridicule. Our friends may be nicer to us about reporting problems with our websites, but the fact is with larger audiences you generally have a more brutal, opinionated set of opinions.
Getting back on topic
Imagine now you are a full-time working voice actor and it is time to get yourself online. You set up a page listing all types of work you have done, putting up amazing graphics, and that page shows you are the go-to person in the industry!
And guess what…Your play buttons do not work. You left out a “contact” button, which is the equivalent of leaving cup holders out of cars, and everything you typed out in text cannot be validated. In the world of working online you have made yourself look like the very thing you curse about working online: A NEWB!
Worse than that, you look like a NEWB who is convinced they know everything, and anyone with an ego online is immediately subject to abuse for believing they are above someone. The large audience that is the neutralizing online crowd now has an opinion of your voice tainted with a negative view of you as a person or business. As people, we would all prefer to work with someone who can do the job and makes working together a pleasure. Working together starts at the “website”.
OH! About the timeshare
Spend your whole lunch break trying to contact customer service or clicking a “Terms of Service” button, only to get a 500 error, and that trip to a nice sunny place now feels like a tremendous waste of time. Even those keeping emotions in check will still have a tainted experience on vacation from using a website that does not work. And it happens for one simple reason…
- A broken website affects the ability of a person to trust what is happening in front of them. It raises the question, “Are these guys legit or just another attempt to rip someone off or collect data for the purposes of building email lists.
Not to mention, whether we all realize it or not, using websites takes work. Making someone’s job harder to hire you just makes them think you are behind the times of what is required to make people’s work lives easier.
Have times changed? No, except for one thing
This is the timeline of ways to share demos over my last 20 years in the industry:
“Steven, you have to get your demo on cassette.” circa 1992
“Steven, you have to get your demo on CD.” – circa 1995
“Steven, you have to get your demo online and burn cd’s for everyone.” – circa 2000
“Steven, you have to get your demo on casting websites!” – circa 2004
…and that is where things got “different”. Somehow, when we started working online we started to believe it was somewhat unprofessional to do so. I know the reasons why (and that is another long story), but at the time I realized that times were changing again and I wondered why some people were choosing to back out of changing, again. Those who knew “websites” gained a foothold for knowing that websites will be the tool to work with in the future. Now in 2014, many great people who inspired me years back are playing catch-up.
And in times of playing catch-up, it is time to put aside what we once knew to effectively translate that “greatness” into a website, for to defend what we once knew only creates confrontation and wastes valuable time. There is no time to defend oneself when a web developer says to a voice talent, “That does not work. It makes you look like you do not know what you are doing.”
Small list of things that drive people nuts with websites
1. Poor page to page mapping
2. Broken call-to-action links that leave one tapping a phone or clicking a button. Here is an example See what I mean?
3. No contact button or worse…A contact button that offers no contact information
4. No description of actions to take or purpose of website
5. Strange fonts or broken graphics
6. No “fun factor”. Websites that take themselves a little too seriously violate web etiquette of keeping things happy. We all need to be happy. Websites are work.
Think of the good person on the other side of the laptop or tablet, who did not want to waste his lunch hour figuring out how to hire you. Trust me. It matters. Right now, I have to call a customer service line and I was using the website to save time. Depending on the wait time, I may be cancelling this service.
Don’t make it work for people to hire you. Make them smile when they hear your voice.