Showing posts sorted by relevance for query rik emmett. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query rik emmett. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, October 27, 2016

INTRODUCING: Rik Emmett & RESolution9

It's been just about 4 years since I got that late-evening call from Rik Emmett to take over the maintenance of his website.
Here's the first blog post detailing the initial work.  Once I got the software and theme code updated, keeping it all maintained and bug-free is a much smoother and less time-consuming process.

The only constant in website creation and maintenance is change and there have been quite a few.

First, the overall site design got upgraded to a fully responsive design where all elements adjust to the screen size, however large or small.  A lot of the graphics could be recreated with source code instead of image files, so the site runs faster now too.  If I've said it once, I've said it 100 times, fully-responsive design for small screens/mobile devices is no longer optional.

Just making a quickie mobile-friendly front page and leaving the rest of the site to desktop-only may fool the search engines, but it cheats your customers.  As of this morning, a full 40% of this site's visitors are made on a tablet or phone; 30% of all sales in the e-commerce store is made from a mobile device.

There is no reason that a smartphone visitor must endure a sterile, stripped-down shadow of a website.

Next was improved social media integration.  Photos are managed via Flickr, videos are managed via YouTube and those channels are fed into the site via plugins.    Most social media sites (including Google properties) have an API that will connect to a website in the hands of a webmaster who can walk through the steps.  Adding media galleries to social media where possible cuts down on the amount of site maintenance and hands-on programming required and speeds up the website and makes updating content easier by using multiple channels every day.

Video page, powered by YouTube:

Photo gallery page, powered by Flickr:

All of this slicing and dicing and planning for unknown future contingencies has paid off.  Rik recently signed with Mascot Label Group based in the Netherlands for a new rock album.  The team just got bigger.

Rik and I have gotten into a comfortable groove where I can make design and layout adjustments where they are necessary at my own direction.  But once a record label gets involved, the contract is law - literally.

The first image in the post is the new album jacket/CD insert.  (Yes, there is a limited pressing in vinyl.  Some serious music fans swear by analog recordings to this day.)  The graphic artists working for Mascot are also based in the Netherlands and they're calling the shots on designs for the new project, RESolution9.  North America-based label operations are in New York.  Large-venue booking agent is in Montreal.  Small-venue booking agent in the US is in Philadelphia.  Small-venue booking agent in Canada is in Toronto.  News media have expanded from predominantly the US and Canada to almost every country in Europe, with intense hot spots in Germany and Scandinavia.  My job in this machine is to integrate the designs for the project into Rik's current site, with the graphic artists' approval.

Thank God they speak English fluently because my Dutch is non-existent.  :-)

Between Mascot's internal machine and my content management planning, this process couldn't have been easier.  Even considering that adding a new splash page (entry page into the site with calls to action) is more than just slapping a single image onto a web page and calling it a day.  The artists sent me a file of the cover image that allowed me to extract all of the individual elements, then reconstruct them into a format that looks just like the record jacket on a laptop - but will reconfigure itself into a comfortable arrangement on a cell phone or tiny tablet.  

Then I set up the page so that it could become the first page a visitor sees.  Again, there were timelines and deadlines and "go live" was planned down to the minute within a specified time zone, dictated by a project manager.  Everything was loaded into the site the night before, and changing the front page literally took 2 seconds when I got the alert.

Most jobs that I work on currently require me to work independently and report to the site's owner.  But being part of an international team has a special buzz all its own and a unique satisfaction when the composite machine runs smoothly.  The fans and music buyers don't notice the work, they notice the results.  Working in different states, different countries, different continents, makes no difference at all.  And when the info goes live in the right venue at the right time, they spend money, and we all earn our living.

I didn't make the videos, but updating the site with video embeds is all in a day's work.  Here's the original album teaser for your enjoyment!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


It's been a while since I've posted - here's why.  This project was an intense labor of love.

I got a call one evening from Rik Emmett (formerly of Triumph, now flying solo) inquiring if I would be willing to assume command of his website and other online resources.

Can I get a "hell, yeah"!

Rik's site is a combination of ecommerce and social networking.  Much of his discography is available for sale via download, in addition to books and videos.  There is also a subscriber-based fan network, performance date listings and other information.

One of the rarely-discussed aspects of webmastering and website development is the fact that taking over someone else's website and upgrading it can be a greater challenge than just creating a new one from scratch.  This site is a case in point.

The original went live in 1996 and had experienced three different webmasters (all major fans on a slight budget or fan-enthusiasm basis) and the presence I was to upgrade was a patchwork of different kinds of technology that evolved over eight years.  They included static HTML files, an outdated phpBB bulletin board program with many custom modifications in the source code, an obsolete mailing list code, and a very outdated WordPress installation.  The databases had not been reviewed or cleaned of old or spam data since at least 2004.  The subscription aspect of the site did not integrate with the main website, the database had become corrupted, and the program was failing - users were seeing obvious errors and security holes were allowing spammers to infiltrate.  The hosting company site wasn't what I call "user friendly", either.

Ever see one of those "Hoarders" shows?  The first step in this process is the same:  assess what's here, try to figure out what previous programmers had done, then decide (quickly, before everything caves in) what should stay, what needs a good cleaning, what should be tossed on the spot, and what should be built fresh.

The final product needed to look as similar as possible to the one I inherited, but with an updated, widget-enabled WordPress theme.  All of the old graphics were going to be retained.  Brand new highly interactive theme, essentially created from scratch, using recycled images from the previous version.  All of the page content was imported into the new install and new plugins were added to drive such features as an interactive photo gallery (as opposed to a manually-created page with pictures).  Next was an upgraded ecommerce plugin.  The ecommerce solution is unique in that "add to cart" buttons and a shopping cart can be placed anywhere within the site, not just within a designated "store".  Then the mailing list was moved to MailChimp for better maintenance and guarantee of delivery of online newsletters.

The biggest innovations I brought to the table were new membership management and integration of the bulletin board with the website.  Previously, renewal notifications and subscription expiration was highly unreliable.  The current solution displays member status and expiration dates clearly in a user panel and settings for delivering notices are managed via the main dashboard.  Subscription payments are managed through the same shopping cart that manages the digital downloads and other merchandise.

After trying Wordpress-based plugin bbPress numerous times without success, I decided to keep the bulletin board in phpBB.  I discovered a plugin that I highly recommend entitled WP United.  This plugin keeps the bulletin board and main website databases separate, but allows the bulletin board to be integrated into a WordPress page and allows for logins and other bulletin board content to appear where needed.  (see below).  The result is a useful and comfortable home page for logged in subscribers with key content included from the bulletin board alongside other members-only information.

The final result is a comprehensive system where all elements and features can be managed from one dashboard and do not require manual editing of a page's source code or separate control panels for various functions.  That means when I get a phone call or email from Toronto asking for an update, it's fast and easy to do:  the fans get what they're waiting for quickly, my boss is happy, and it costs less money to keep it maintained and updated with frequent, fresh content.

Thanks for reading!  There are more web updates on the way!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

SDOC Welcomes

This one is for all of my progressive rock/classic rock fan friends out there.

Effective this morning, SDOC Publishing is providing all development and back-end maintenance services for, the official website for former Triumph frontman Rik Emmett in Toronto.

You won't notice any visible changes when you visit.  The current theme by Burning Fire Design will remain.  However I'm climbing down into the back with my digital wrench and doing some major upgrades on the e-Commerce side, with upgraded capabilities for downloadable music and other products, as well as improved functionality for the fan forum and promotional newsletters and assorted other interactive features.  Some time next year, SDOC will provide all hosting services as well.

Helluva way to hit the ground running after Briers North Halloween!  Enjoy!