tMP Exclusive Interview with Steve - Webmaster - Hathern Band Web Site of the Month Award Winner - Nov/Dec 2004 By way of an introduction, could you please tell us a little about yourself I am a Software Engineer and I am married to Di and dad to Vickitorious and Adam. 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? Sort of. I play the tuba (Diane will edit out this and put 'Bass') and I help out when asked to but for now driving the kids between bands is a full time job (Mostly for Diane). In the last couple of years I have mainly played for Adam's band which is Hathern B. In the area this year I played Solo Triangle! How long have you been involved in web design how did you first get involved in it? I only started web design when the Hathern site needed re-working. I have always worked in Software but never with webs and I thought it would be interesting to play with some new toys, so when the subject of the band's Web came up I volunteered. (well strictly speaking Diane did) Do you manage/run any other web sites, if so, which ones? Not sure I should admit to this but http://www.tenorhorn.co.uk for Vickitorious. I like this one as I can be a bit more outrageous. The first one was an animated fishtank with bubbles and the lot but she outgrew that. What applications did you use to build your site and why did you choose these? For HTML I don't like WYSIWYG applications that generate loads of code that you can't understand and don't know why it's there. I prefer to just use a good text editor. For the flash panels I use a tool called Koolmoves which is the best value-for-money piece of software I have ever bought. Anyone thinking of playing with flash should download a copy from www.koolmoves.com and try it out. Please can you explain for us how you prepared and planned for the development of the site when asked to implement this for the Hathern Band? We looked around lots of band sites and found sites that we could understand the structure of and that had the correct content then put one together which was very similar to a site recommended by our band secretary. The first version was based around 'frames' as that was the only way I could think how to do a menu at that time. The site now is nothing like the original one. I realised the other day that there is a site which keeps archives of web sites at http://www.archive.org/web/web.php. Its interesting to see how sites looked - checkout TMP when it first started. This is after the first 102 posts http://web.archive.org/web/20021125193104/http://themouthpiece.com/ What content do you feel should be included on a brass band www site? You need to think about what a visitor who is not a band member may need to find out about your band. How can they hire you? Where can you be contacted? What engagements do you have? CDs? What do you look like and who are your members etc? Then you can think of things mainly for the band like picture galleries. Do you use innovative ideas on your www site? I do use flash which I don't think you see on that many band sites and since I am a software engineer I tend to go for dynamic content rather than keep editing pages. For example the flash calendar and the engagements pages are all dynamically generated from a single XML file containing the engagements. There is also a free giveaway flash panel to show TMP headlines which should be on everyones site Why should people visit The Hathern Band www site? To get their free giveaway flash panel of TMP headlines. What do you feel is important when designing and implementing www sites? Ease of navigation and simpicity. I think colours should be easy on the eye. Sometimes web pages look bright and colourful when you open them but it actually hurts to read them. How long did this site actually take you to build? It's still not finished really I keep thinking of new things to try out. How do you manage the content on your web site and do you have a publishing policy? We don't really have a policy, but we do try to keep it up to date. If people realise that it changes they keep coming back. What would you recommend as the best way to start to learn about designing and building www sites? Just start really. I know that sounds flippant but if you start with a very simple page you can change it as you learn new things and its the best way to learn. Get a page together then change it bit by bit. Do you have a favourite technical reference book for budding web designers? Not really. I tend to google for solutions to problems as they come along. I also started off with this tutorial - http://www.davesite.com/webstation/html. How do you see the influence of the internet assisting the banding movement over the next 5 to 10 years? I don't know. When I started I would have said that more information within the band could be passed around on the internet but there doesn't seem to be a constant stream of people reading our members area so I will creep and say sites such as tMP are bringing all band members together and increasing co-operation and friendship between bands. In most visited order, what are your 5 most frequently used www sites? Not interesting but.. www.google.com www.bbc.com/news www.dilbert.com - I am sure Scott Adams has a spy in our office. www.ebay.co.uk www.hathernband.co.uk (to police the guestbook) 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. I tend to just google for things rather than keep lots of bookmarks. Being a geek, I visit a lot of software sites for Linux and Open Source software such as sourceforge. Could you please name your all time favourite www site, and why so? www.live365.com. There are hundreds of radio stations here - even a couple of brass band ones - although I tend to listen to the rock. There is a player you can buy which sits on your desktop with presets etc - thoroughly recommended. Do you use online community forums, if so, which ones do you use? I use the koolmoves forum a lot and I lurk in a couple of rock forums which show my age What do you do to relax and unwind? Listen to rock music and rather sadly, write software. I enjoy walking, but the best stress reliever is getting Adam off of his drum kit! Tell us something about yourself that we don't already know. I don't like Sushi. What are your other hobbies? I enjoy birdwatching but there never seems time and I can't remember the last time I went anywhere special to do it - its another thing to take up again when the kids don't need taxiing around. What do you drive? Peugeot 406..