Music: A Tale of Two Artist Sites

Friday, July 23, 2004, at 09:31AM

By Eric Richardson

A few quick things before my lunch break's over:

The Peak Show has a party tomorrow night downtown. I'm definitely planning to go, and am excited about finally getting out to one of their events. I was going to make the Viper Room two weeks ago, but, well, I forgot.

Speaking of The Peak Show, though, their website is the example I would point people to for how you design a successful band site. First of all, the navigational scheme is very clever and well executed. You have the room-by-room navigation in the house, but then you've also got the complimentary links up top (with alt text to satisfy accessibility concerns). The interior of the site is very logically organized, and the content's pretty straight-forward.

Back to the the home page... That right there is the perfect example of how you use Flash to spice up a web experience without disenfranchising non-Flash users. I didn't even realize the page had a flash version until I happened to visit with my laptop, where I have the plugin installed. As a non-Flash user, I had no clue I was missing anything -- because I wasn't. Every bit of content was accessible to me. The Flash simply added a little spice to the page.

Constrast this with a site like Erik Penny's (Erik knows I'm a fan, so I can get away with making an example of him here). Two of the three computers I routinely browse on don't have Flash installed. When I try to go to I'm imediately redirected to a page that tells me this:

You have visited a site that requires Flash Player version 6

We have detected that either you do not have the player installed, or you need to upgrade the version you are currently using.

Macromedia Flash Player is one of the most widely distributed pieces of software in the world and is safe to install. Downloading and installing the player should take no more than a couple of minutes.

Well, I guess it's cool that Flash is that big-time, but that doesn't change the fact that I don't have it and I'm not very likely to take the time to go get it just to take a chance that your site's going to be worth it (though, Erik, I'm sure yours is... I just don't have Flash here, so I haven't seen it). These stats might be a little skewed, but when I look at the stats for people visiting this site I see 79% of them having Flash installed. If I made my site Flash-only, I'd be instantly cutting off 21% of my audience. Now, maybe that's cool... Maybe you don't want the lamers who can't be bothered to install the latest greatest flashiest Flash, but I do.

All this to say: come on people, show a little consideration. I don't care that I'm missing the bells and whistles. Here's what I want from your site:

  • To get some basic bio info
  • To hear your music, in mp3 form. I want to download it and have it sit on my computer for a couple days while I digest it.
  • To know when you're playing next.

Give me those three things, don't force me to choose between my laziness and seeing your site (because that's not going to be a fair fight), and I'll be happy. I'll come to your show. I may even buy a cd. Then we both win.