Thursday, September 11, 2008

Time to redesign the website.

My website has had three versions. The first was essentially a learning experience, and we'll pretend it never happened. Next I learned about nesting tables to organize the layout, and I used elements from my first album in the design. I kind of liked that version. A year ago, just after Life Is Loud came out, I changed the design to use elements from that album. It still uses nested tables and much of the layout is the same as the previous version. It feels like it's time to do a complete overhaul.

Musician's websites need a few basic functions. Let people hear your music, and point them in the direction to buy it. Tell them where you're playing. Give them an idea of who you are. Give them a way to contact you and join your email list.

A great example of this is Gary Jules' website. It doesn't use Flash. A lot of bands think you need a flash site to be cool. I like great Flash sites, but I hate waiting for things to load. The biggest risk you face using Flash is getting too caught up in everything it can do and creating a site that looks fancy but either lacks the basic functions you need to connect with fans, or has so much going on it's hard to find the info you want.

An advantage to Flash is creating an interactive experience, though you don't need Flash to do it. Interactive is good for bands and big personalities. People want to explore and get to know the band. I think interactive is bad for individuals that offer more than just the music performance experience. For example, I have my trio, but I'm also involved in other projects. I would also like people to know that I do arranging, composition, and studio work. Turning my website into an interactive maze would cause me to miss a bunch of opportunities.

Having your own website isn't what it used to be. Social networking has created a variety of experiences that have become status quo. Bands' MySpace pages all work the same way for the most part. There are a wide variety of blogging sites now, so you don't need more than a basic news/update feed on your website. Instead of incorporating video into your website, just link to your YouTube channel.

Since people spend less time on artist websites, you want to make sure the message is delivered at a glance, whatever that message may be. I need to tweak that message on my site and will hopefully have some time to do that before the end of the year. Any suggestions? What's your favorite artist website? Please let me know!

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