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!