Overview of the business
Ian O’Sullivan is a musician who plays mostly in the rock and heavy metal genres. He currently plays guitar in God’s Army, based in Germany, who are working on their third album, due to be released in 2020. He also records as a solo artist using the name Ianos, where he makes music of a more experimental, progressive nature. He has a website, ianosmusic.com, which is a bespoke, brochure type site and doesn’t employ the use of a CMS. The aim with this site is to create something more dynamic which would include a blog that could be updated on a regular basis providing fresh, entertaining content that could be used to bring traffic to the site and help draw attention to the artist’s own musical projects as a result.
As the artist already has his own web hosting it was decided to install WordPress on a subdomain of ianosmusic.com rather than to use wordpress.com. The new site currently resides at: news.ianosmusic.com and the intention is to move it to ianosmusic.com when it is completed, replacing the coded site which is too labour-intensive to update.
To increase ease of use, the native WordPress plugin package, Jetpack has been installed, which effectively links the site to a WordPress.com account. The benefit of this is that the excellent WordPress mobile app can be used to update the site ‘on the go’. This is especially useful for a musician who may not have access to a computer while touring and can update the site using a tablet or smart phone and instantly share blog articles to social channels.
Type of site
Although the blog is intended to be one of the main focal points, the site will have a brochure format and will eventually have extra pages for a biography, discography, live shows etc. An attractive homepage is also important. The site should look like it represents a serious and professional artist.
Target audience(s) and why they would use the site
The intended target audience for this website would be fans of classic rock, heavy rock, progressive and heavy metal music. Other musicians, guitarists in particular, would also be a target group as I would intend to blog about music technology & developments and to write reviews on instruments and equipment.
My intention is that they would use the site, primarily to read the blog articles, but that they would look at other pages and become interested in learning more about the artist and the projects he’s involved in.
Objectives of site
- Create an attractive website for the musician, Ian O’Sullivan which would function as his online home where he could draw together all the different projects he’s involved in or has been involved in throughout his career.
- Establish the artist’s brand through the use of imagery, colour scheme, logo and the ‘voice’ used on the site.
- To use the blog to increase traffic and encourage visitors to learn more about the artist.
- To establish the artist as a ‘thought leader’ within his genre
It is intended to keep the site visually simple but necessary functionalities will include the following:
- Search function and Google translate tool for the main blog page
- Social media and music streaming icons in the footer
- Facebook feed
- Contact form
- Cover video for the homepage
- The ability to add custom CSS
- Social media sharing buttons under articles
- Comment function
- Mailchimp subscriber pop-up
KPIs used to measure success
- Visits to individual blog articles
- Comments/engagement with articles
- Overall site statistics over time. Google Analytics has been added to the header Php to facilitate detailed analysis
- Click-throughs to band websites and Spotify/Apple Music links
- Click-throughs to social media channels
- Views of embedded YouTube videos
- Mailing list sign-ups
As the main aim of this site is to utilise the blog to attract visitors, the main competitors would not be other artists active in the genre but rather music blogs and webzines.
Loudersound.com would be one such example. This is the website for Classic Rock Magazine, which also exists in print. They generally keep their articles short and to the point which are well suited to sharing on social media platforms.
Another news site that is very visible on social media is Metal Addicts. They also encourage readers to submit blog articles which is a great way to keep your content fresh and engage with users.
One of the main things I’ve learned from a lot of these music blogging sites is how important it is to have a presence on social media and to use these channels to drive traffic to your website.
I did also however, look at other artists in the heavy rock genre, especially those who would be active on YouTube and other social platforms, to see how they use their websites. Ola Englund (https://olaenglund.com/ ) is a swedish guitarist and a well known YouTuber. He uses his website as a means of tying all his different bands/projects together in one online space, which is one of the aims of this site.
Description of visual style (colours, fonts, use of imagery) with reference to ‘inspiration’ sites.
One thing I didn’t want, was for this website to look like a typical Heavy Metal musician site complete with skulls, flames and other assorted cliches of the genre. My intention was to focus on simplicity of design and to use high quality media to draw the visitor in. I’ve always liked black and white websites so I decided to try this look. I chose the Twenty Seventeen theme as it is simple and clean and allows for the use of a cover video. The default Libre Franklin is an attractive sans-serif font which suited my needs perfectly. I adjusted the colour scheme by adding CSS and removed the WordPress credit from the footer Php.
All images on this site have been optimised for web using Adobe Photoshop. Artist photos, like the hero image on this page, are by Heike Leppkes who has given me permission to use her images for my website.
I made a forty second video clip using scenes from my last music video, compressed the file size to facilitate quick loading and uploaded it to YouTube, using the url in the header customiser to display it on repeat at the top of the homepage. It is my hope that visitors will be intrigued by the slightly edgy and enigmatic video and this will encourage them to explore further. This is my site’s ‘showpiece’.
For inspiration, I deliberately kept away from other artists in my genre as I am not really a fan of Heavy Metal websites. I find them to be very busy and ‘cheesy’ in general. Having said that though, I do like Ola Englund’s site, as the design is relatively clean and he uses video to good effect on his homepage. I don’t, however, like the way one of his videos auto-plays with sound as you scroll down the page. I find that to be a bit unnecessary.
I found more inspiration from artists in completely different genres to mine, when executing this site. I really liked the dark theme and layout of John Hiatt’s website: https://www.johnhiatt.com/ and Melody Gardot’s use of black and white imagery conveys a sense of class: https://melodygardot.co.uk/. Apple’s website is a constant source of inspiration to me when it comes to web design. The uncluttered layout, absolute ease of navigation and sense of space conveyed throughout the site should be something all websites should attempt to mirror.
In general, I would hope that the visitor to my site will be attracted to how different it is for the genre involved and that this will encourage them to explore further.