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Site Design: 6 Sites That Get It

In my previous post I talked about premium WordPress theme sites and what they can bring to the table in the way of usability, design and SEO for podcasters.

I thought it would be a good idea to follow up with some examples of good site design and how others were presenting their shows to their audience.

Let me preface this with: I thought this would be an easy post to construct.

Wrong.

I just spent four hours looking at a couple of hundred podcast sites. I knew that there were some that were a mess out there, but I had no idea how many – and it’s a lot.

What really surprised me was who had the worst-looking and hardest to navigate sites – the big guns in the game. The CNET’s, NPR’s, and BBC, to name a few. Big, corporate giants that folded their podcasts in with the bulk of their “product.”

And, not surprisingly, some of the obvious names in podcastdom sprang to the top.

Here’s a short list of 6 sites that get it. I ranked the sites based on 5 criteria points:

  • Look and Feel
  • The Player
  • Show Listings
  • Show Notes
  • Subscribe and Follow Availability

I also added some comments after each review giving you my first impressions of the site (granted, some I’ve been to before, but it’s been a while so I could still look at them with fresh eyes).

Note that I’m looking at these sites purely with a Designer’s eye. The excellent content found on many shows factor in the rankings.

Six Pixels of Separation

Look and Feel: 10.0
Beautifully done, fast-loading. A benchmark site.

The Player: 10.0
Just as much attention was applied to the player as the site.

Show Listings: 10.0
Intuitive design, easily searchable.

Show Notes: 10.0
Just enough to whet your appetite, run times and good clean links.

Subscribe and Follow: 10
You can easily subscribe to rss, iTunes, updates and social media.

Overall Score: 10.0

Comments
This is Mitch Joel and TwistImage. Author of the best-seller, Six Pixels of Separation. SPOS is a benchmark podcast/blog/ecommerce site.

TWiT

Look and Feel: 9.0
Intuitively laid out and fast. The only reason I didn’t give this a 10 was because of the over-abundance of sea foam blue.

The Player: 9.0
A simple Flash player, easily found and working.

Show Listings: 10.0
The brilliance of this site is in its navigation. Find the show you like in the left column, find episode you want in the right. Press play.

Show Notes: 9.0
A quick synopsis of the show with links to their wiki and a more in depth look.

Subscribe and Follow: 10.0
Drop down menu goodness. Options to subscribe to the audio (including Zune, Winamp and Google). Options to subscribe to the video (in either high or low bandwidth).

Overall Score: 9.4

Comment
Lord Leo knows how to lay out a nice spread for his guests. Even down to the tastefully positioned, “Help Build the New Brick TWiT House!” donation buttons.

PodcastAnswerMan.com

Look and Feel: 8.5
Probably the plainest-looking of the group but there’s a ton of stuff going on in this site. Everything is right there above the fold and in easy reach.

The Player: 9.0
A simple Flash player, easily found and working.

Show Listings: 9.0
There is a search available but all the shows are there and in order.

Show Notes: 9.5
Thorough and complete. The only thing I’d like to see would be run times.

Subscribe and Follow: 10
iTunes, RSS and social media represented.

Overall Score: 9.2

Comment
As I said, Cliff Ravenscraft has got a lot going on at this site – podcasts, blogs, tutorials and ecommerce. On many sites this can get quite messy and difficult to navigate but Cliff seems to keep the usability of his site in check.

Smart Passive Income Podcast

Look and Feel: 9.0
Clean and fast loading. Nice color usage. Maybe a tad busy, but a minor point.

The Player: 9.0
A simple Flash player, easily found and working.

Show Listings: 9.5
A lot of options to find what you’re looking for.

Show Notes: 9.5
Probably the best I’ve seen. Detailed and link saturated. When show notes can stand on their own, you’ve found something good. My only addition I’d like to see would be run times.

Subscribe and Follow: 9.2
iTunes, RSS and an eBook are available.

Overall Score: 9.1

Comment
The podcast and associated blog are a labor of love from Pat Flynn and it shows. There’s a lot of work that goes into this site. It’s easy to read and navigate and his show notes are superior. The almost 50,000 followers are a testament to that.

I Love Marketing

Look and Feel: 9.0
Clean and fast loading. Nice color usage.

The Player: 9.0
A simple Flash player, easily found and working.

Show Listings: 8.0
Shows are all there except they’ve got two category links called Blog and Podcast. Each one reveals podcasts but there are more under Blog than Podcast… interesting.

Show Notes: 7.0
Just bullet points. Looks like four per show.

Subscribe and Follow: 9.0
You can easily subscribe to iTunes and email.

Overall Score: 8.4

Comment
I like ILM’s site. It’s clean, fast and easy on the eyes. Plus everything is within easy reach. My only real complaint is with the wonky usage of the Blog and Podcast categories.

The B®and Show

Look and Feel: 9.0
Clean and fast loading. Nice color usage.

The Player: 9.0
A simple Flash player, easily found and working.

Show Listings: 1
No search function, no list of shows.

Show Notes: 8
I’d like to give it a higher score but it’s hard to find the shows. For what I did see, they were written well and informative, like mini-blog posts.

Subscribe and Follow: 10
You can easily subscribe to rss, iTunes, updates and social media.

Overall Score: 7.4

Comment
Because the Brand Show is also a working blog, you almost don’t realize that it’s a podcast unless the player happens to be above the fold. I would suggest a sidebar entry of the podcasts or at the very least a category listing.

A Last-Minute Update

I just realized after this post dropped, that I left someone off of the list. This was my fault for not adding Dan’s site initially. I got so busy looking up other sites that his dropped off my radar.

How to Make a Podcast Like a Pro

Look and Feel: 10.0
Clean, fast-loading, visually appealing. Everything is where you expect it to be.

The Player: 9.0
A simple Flash player, easily found and working.

Show Listings: 10.0
Yay – A categories list! Who would’ve thought that this would be missing on most podcast sites?

Show Notes: 9.5
Just enough to whet your appetite, and run times. Not a heckuva lot of links though.

Subscribe and Follow: 10
You can easily subscribe to rss, iTunes, updates and social media.

Overall Score: 9.7

Comments
HTMPLAP is the creation of Dan Lyons, an award-winning radio DJ with 15 years of experience under his belt. I remember when I first found it a few weeks ago I was immediately struck by the simplistic and graceful structure. A perfect example how clean, simple, useful and effective always makes a winning combination.

So, who did I miss? What’s your favorite site layout and why?

About Jay Walsh

With a combined 25 years of design, marketing, podcasting, video and social media knowledge, Jay created ProPodder.com with the goal of helping you make a better podcast.

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