tMP Exclusive Interview with Chris Leonard - Webmaster – Derwent Brass

Discussion in 'WOM Interviews' started by Di, Apr 2, 2007.

  1. Di

    Di Active Member

    tMP Exclusive Interview with Chris Leonard
    Webmaster – Derwent Brass

    By way of an introduction, could you please tell us a little about yourself. Are you actively involved in playing a brass instrument with any band, or do you simply undertake the web design on behalf of a band?
    My name is Chris Leonard & I designed & built the web site for Derwent Bass. I’m 23 years old and I play solo cornet for Derwent Brass, 3rd man down. Before joining Derwent Brass I was principal cornet at Youth Brass 2000 and Hathern ‘B’ Band.

    How long have you been involved in web design, and how did you first get involved in it?
    I’ve always had an interest in design and my A level studies were biased in this direction. Following sixth form I completed a diploma in art and design at Loughborough University, (including an extension program in Photoshop and digital photography), before doing the 1st year of a Graphic Communication degree course also at LUSAD. I’ve done quite a bit of ‘graphic art design’ work for the band, the last 2 CD covers were designed by me and I usually design the posters, publicity board, etc. I first designed the Derwent site back in 2001 and since then I’ve also created some other sites on recommendation for friends businesses. I also worked as a website designer before university, the sole webmaster for one site and working alongside another company to develop a database driven version for their sister company.

    Do you manage/run any other web sites, if so, which ones?
    Currently I have no involvement in any other web sites.

    What applications did you use to build your site and why did you choose these?
    For this site I used Homestead which is essentially a user friendly software package which is aimed primarily at the domestic/small business market. I chose it so that ongoing updating and day-to-day maintenance of the site could easily be carried in-house by other band persons who may have no web build experience, and also the costs are reasonable, which is obviously important to a non sponsored band. I also use a touch of Photoshop to enhance photographs and make some imagery (eg the welcome page)

    Please can you explain for us how you prepared and planned for the development of the site when asked to implement this for Derwent Brass?
    Step 1 was to sit down with the band’s committee and talk through what they really wanted out of the site – so many people just say “build me a web site!” It seemed the band’s main concerns were that the site should be up to date and affordable – which helped me choose the software package. After that it was important to ‘map-out’ the site, deciding how I wanted everything linked, and which areas should be priority and therefore prominent and easily accessible.

    What content do you feel should be included on a brass band www site?

    Unfortunately it seems to me that many websites of brass bands, and other ‘group activity’ organisations appear to have been created mainly as some type of ego trip, i.e. we must have a web site but no idea why or what it should say. The web site has to have a purpose which obviously is marketing the band and it’s easy to point people to your web site on posters and programmes, but when they get there it must tell them something. There are three main visitors : regular band supporters, other concert goer type people looking for information of concerts etc, and general surfers.
    To satisfy regular band supporters the web site needs to contain all the usual general information about band personnel and should also give the supporter the opportunity to ‘go behind the scenes’ and meet their band a bit more closely, hence the ‘meet the band’ section – and in ours we include things like hobbies, work activity, families and the like. Also pictures of social events, celebrations help the supporter feel that they know the band better.
    For the concert goer forthcoming event information is obviously important with as much additional info as possible like where to get tickets, etc. Sometimes (if the MD has information soon enough) we’ll publish the programme in advance as well.
    Then there are things like CDs to be promoted and reviews of concerts, general news items all of which are of general interest

    Do you use innovative ideas on your www site?
    No not really. It is really an information biased site so fancy graphics, flash or annoying midi files(!) would just be a waste of time and clutter up the site. Recently the site underwent reconstruction in which I set out to make it as clean as possible. The only part of the site which really involves anything creative is the welcome page image!

    Why should people visit Derwent Brass Bands www site?
    The site gives a lot of information, so if you want to know where the next concert is, or where the band will be in a few months time, where to get tickets from etc. If you want to buy band CDs you can do this from the site, and of course if you’re a brass band surfer there’s all the usual interest stuff such as contest results (we publish them all, good and bad!), band member details, concert reviews.

    What do you feel is important when designing and implementing www sites…?
    Probably most important to remember that the web site is for the reader or visitor, not the creator. So it needs to be visitor friendly, welcoming and clear to use. Where I may not like something aesthetically, for the target audience it may be exactly what is needed.

    How long did this site actually take you to build?
    Difficult to say because it was done in evenings between other activities etc, but overall I would say about 2weeks.

    How do you manage the content on your web site and do you have a publishing policy?
    I am in constant dialogue with the band member who looks after day-to day updating. Any changes to the site are referred to me prior to implementation, but otherwise updating of existing content needs no specific management. We don’t have a publishing policy as such other than avoiding contravention of copyright and it is our intention that all content is specifically Derwent Brass related

    What would you recommend as the best way to start to learn about designing and building www sites?
    Don’t get taken along at first with the best bits of software and kit on the market. It can be tempting to run out to buy the best software (Macromedia Studio, etc) thinking you will get the best results, which after experience is true, however the best packages are without doubt the most technical, and expensive! Stick with something easy at first that perhaps has a wizard and built in upload program to keep it simple.

    Do you have a favourite technical reference book for budding web designers?
    Not really – the manual you get with the software is the best bet if you get stuck. There are plenty of books out there – “the idiots guide to building a web site” would probably be a good start!

    How do you see the influence of the internet assisting the banding movement over the next 5 to 10 years?
    The internet makes everything more accessible, and brings supporters closer to the bands they like to follow. It also gives everyone a voice and a platform to make points known throughout the movement, most of the time that is a benefit (except probably the week after area contests and finals when we all want to moan, but I guess even that should be considered a benefit because at least we CAN moan out loud!)

    In most visited order, what are your 5 most frequently used www sites?

    www.rallyeregister.co.uk
    www.ebay.co.uk
    www.derwentbrass.com
    http://www.nottinghamforest.premiumtv.co.uk
    www.pistonheads.co.uk

    Can you let our members know of any other www sites you feel are interesting to visit but are not in your top 5, and why this is so.
    http://www.nevillebros.com/great instrument sales/repair shop based in Derby, East Midlands
    http://www.devmac.co.uk/ low cost web designers
    http://jamesmorrison.com/ arguably the best trumpet player in the world!


    Could you please name your all time favourite www site, and why so?

    Simply from a Graphic Design point of view these people always impress me…
    http://www.tomato.co.uk/

    Do you use online community forums, if so, which ones do you use?
    www.rallyeregister.co.uk
    www.cliosport.co.uk

    What do you do to relax and unwind?
    Movies and Music
    Like most people involved with brass bands – the pub!
    Drive

    Tell us something about yourself that we don't already know.
    Favourite comedians – Bill Bailey, Jethro, Chubby Brown, Lee Evans

    What are your other hobbies?
    Cars – driving, modifying, shows and rallies.
    Home cinema

    What do you drive?
    Currently – Peugeot 106 GTi
    Last car – Nissan Pulsar GTIR
     
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  3. Lukie

    Lukie New Member

    Congratulations Chris and Derwent Brass on winning Web site of the month for March.
    From your nominee,
    Dave Lucas
     
  4. mr_nismo

    mr_nismo Member

    Thanks for your nomination Dave - most appreciated and all the best mate!
    Chris
     
  5. ROBTHEDOG

    ROBTHEDOG Member

    Well done Chris - Thanks -- you've done good .. CU soon
     

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