As web designers, we never know what field our next client is gonna to come from, so we always have to be prepared to work in their niche, even if it is outside our proverbial design box, and therefore outside our comfort zone. Though research comes naturally with most design work, already having a base to go from never hurts.
This base, could also mean the difference between getting the job, or getting passed over. So it beneficial to familiarize yourself with the common elements that normally make various niche sites stand out from the others in their genre. In this post, we will be looking at the elements of great band websites. So if your next client needs you to build a site for this field, here are some must-haves for your design.
Also, you will notice scattered throughout the post are a few ‘Greatest Hits’, or in other words, some of the best band sites out on the webs.
Band Photo & Member Info
The first, is the most obvious, and one of the most important elements to include. The picture of the band with band member information. Remember most of their fans not only want to know more about the music, but they also want to know more about the individuals that make up the group. So remember to make this a priority, not only because of its necessity to the site and the fans, but also because of the way it can feed the design.
With band websites you want to make sure that the design of the site matches the personality and attitude of the band without going overboard with flash. The time you invest to build the site and put everything together could all be for not if the design doesn’t embody the essence and feel of the band. Keep it simple so as to not detract from the band, make it useable so they can get all the info they need, and make it relevant to not break from the tone of the band.
Greatest Hits – Fallout Boy
Fallout Boy’s website does a great job of both showcasing the talent and allowing the band to connect with their fans. I love their Q&A section for allowing fans to ask questions, it’s a great personalization technique. Their tour info page could use some work to make it a bit clearer, but it’s not much of a deterrent. Joining and signing in may do that, but I wouldn’t recommend making fans join your site just to get your touring info.
Showcase The Music
Now given that the band’s art is their music, you want to make sure that it is highlighted on the site with an appropriately styled presentation befitting their work. So be sure to have a great looking playlist for the users. Remember not everyone visiting the site has necessarily heard the band’s music before, they could have been sent there by friends. Having a well designed playlist can draw new listeners and help to gain new fans, so pay attention to this element.
And being that past is prologue, you want to be sure that you are not only focusing on the band’s current music, but also featuring and pointing visitors to their full discography. Without listing their past body of work, you are in effect minimalizing the band’s previous efforts. And while it is not necessary to have their entire discography on the front page, you are going to want to make sure that the navigation to it is clearly marked and easy to find.
Quick tip: Don’t have the music start automatically, let the visitors decide whether they want to listen or not. Generally it is not a good idea to take over a user’s sound.
Greatest Hits – Kings of Leon
The Kings of Leon’s site is another great example of a band site done right. Their Discography allows logged in fans to rate and review the albums. This is not only a fantastic way to show confidence in the music, but also to demonstrate how much the band values their fan’s input. Their events page lets you know that there aren’t any upcoming events so you don’t have to wonder if the page is working, and removing any guesswork is a must.
Another main element that fans of the band are going to be looking for when coming to the band’s website is merchandise. Not every band will want sell merchandise on their site or even have any to offer, but if your clients choose to have a shop you need to make sure to use a dependable shopping cart system to set them up. Also the presentation of the merchandise is key, so pay attention to the styling you use. You want to compliment it, do not distract from it.
Once the shop is in place, you may think that your job there is done, and it very well could be, if that is how you want to play it. However this is an opportunity to go above and beyond and help steer your client in the direction of some reliable and safe outlets to provide great customer service. By helping them find a service to assist them in this arena, you are demonstrating your passion for customer service, and helping your reputation. Pointing them in the direction of services like Zendesk, and getting them a customer service base to work with helps guarantee they will not be calling you to handle these needs.
Greatest Hits – U2
If you are designing for a big name band, then you have a lot to live to up to, but in the case of U2’s site you can see another way it has been done with style. The site has a great tour page where you can actually find links to purchase tickets to upcoming shows. The depth of the Discography is also engaging, containing backgrounds on each album as well as lyrics to each song.
Calendar of Events
Another classic must have element when designing a band site, is a calendar of events. This is another area of the site that the fans are certainly going to be searching for, so you do not want to make them have to look far. You need to be sure that the fanbase knows where and when they can catch the band performing, and you as the designer need to include this section and make it really pop. You want this to be more than just a stagnant event list, you want it to draw as much attention as the rest of the site.
This can be a tricky element to effectively include, especially if the client has to be in charge of updating it regularly with information. The client may not have much experience with site maintenance, and that can often tie your hands as to how to work in an element like this. This could also offer an opportunity for you to get a recurring maintenance contract with the client to handle these updates to insure that they are done without breaking the design.
Greatest Hits – Arctic Monkeys
Arctic Monkeys are another great band with an equally awesome website. Just like U2’s site, AM’s gigs page also allows visitors and fans to purchase tickets for upcoming shows. This is one of the few band sites I came across that actually had a way to contact the band. They also have a really in depth discography allowing users to comment on their music. And most of their songs have lyrics posted on the site.
Beyond just a calendar to help the band’s fans keep up with what is going on with the group, the inclusion of an online newsletter than can be posted to the site is another great way to get this done. This element offers a bit more of a personal reach into the band, making more of a connection with the fans. So steering the client in this direction not only furthers the scope of the site, but the effectiveness as well.
Newsletters offer you yet another opportunity to flex your design muscles and wow your clients and site visitors alike, but again, this may not be an area that the client wants to go in. Though if you can explain the benefits effectively to them, you might soon find yourself designing the layout of a band newsletter.
Greatest Hits – Band of Horses
The Band of Horses website is an awesomely creative, extremely original and well designed site with fluid navigation that really adds to the overall feel of the band. The band incorporates a newsletter and blog into their site, along with a performance schedule to fully connect with their audience and keep them informed. Which does demonstrate a desire that your clients may share, to have all these various avenues to reach out on their site.
Now this next element is not necessarily specific to a band site, but the customization and styling of the contact information is still key for those looking to get into contact with the group. You also want to make sure that the information is easy to locate and access so that opportunities do not easily slip passed your cient.
Also, given that you are setting up a website for a band, the amount of contact information may be limited so the group does not get overwhelmed with fanatical followers bombarding them with fanmail spam. So it may be a better idea to set up a contact form on the site rather than simply giving out the various phone numbers or e-mail addresses. Once again, you will want to be sure that this is a form that you can customize to fit the tone and feel of the rest of the site.
Greatest Hits – Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan has been a musical icon for generations, and his transition to the digital world via his site is just as stellar as the man himself. Encompassing so much more than just what we have discussed here, Dylan’s site has some extra features that go above and beyond to highlight the fans. Like a community page that pulls in fan blogs that discuss the music and the man behind the myth.
That is a Wrap
That covers things from this end. What are your thoughts on the matter of band sites? What makes them shine? What elements would you include on your list of must-haves? And what band sites do you think are doing things right?