tMP Exclusive Interview with Tom Lewis
Webmaster – Menai Bridge Band

By way of an introduction, could you please tell us a little about yourself
I'm Tom, the band's 16 year-old Solo Horn player. I'm a 6th former at Ysgol Tryfan, Bangor, studying Physical Education, Music, English, French and Maths.

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?
Yes - I play the tenor horn.

How long have you been involved in web design how did you first get involved in it?
I've been interested in web design as a hobby for a few years, messing about creating some page in free time. I had to make on for my GCSE IT course and for the last two years I've been just been playing about with different software and applications. This is probably my first 'serious' website.

Do you manage/run any other web sites, if so, which ones?
I'm currently in the process of building a new website, www.gwefeistr.com as a part time company. Hopefully, when completed, it will offer local Web and IT services such as building basic sites for clients, installing fourms/message boards/guestbooks or Soccer Stat programmes, installing software/systems at home and so on for a reasonably cheap price.

What applications did you use to build your site and why did you choose these?

For the site, I used Macromedia Dreamweaver 8, Adobe Photoshop 7 and Macromedia Flash 8. I chose these applications as these are the programs I am most comfortable using, and Dreamweaver flexible CSS and HTML coding and superiority to any other similar programs made it the ideal program for the site.

Please can you explain for us how you prepared and planned for the development of the site when asked to implement this for Menai Bridge Band?

I had just finished my GCSE exams, and was messing about with site designs when I came up with one I thought would be very adequate to use as the band's website. As I knew Chris had asked other people to re-vamp the site, I offered my services to fill my summer days. I searched around other brass band sites, picked up a few ideas from some of them (some already implemented, some yet to be revealed) and got on with designing the site.

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

Up to date news, an updated engagements list, history sections (I would like to expand ours when I get some free time!), photo galleries, audio downloads/streams.

Do you use innovative ideas on your www site?

We have included a function to pay subscriptions and become a friend of the band via Paypal on our site, which hopefully will attract people over the world to donate money towards the band. Another innovative idea we have used is an interactive gallery, where visitors to the site can upload their own photos to the gallery. I also hope to have a few videos online in the next few weeks, aswell as clips of the band playing

Why should people visit Menai Bridge Bands www site?

Regular updates means the site features a new news article or a new area to the site - so keep checking!

What do you feel is important when designing and implementing www sites…?

Good, simple to use navigation is a must. A heavy site which will take ages to load and persuade the user to navigate elsewhere should be avoided aswell.

How long did this site actually take you to build?

From getting permisson to vamp it up to finish, it was around 5 weeks. But I believe it was worth the wait! Hopefully, as it is a Welsh band and most members are Welsh speakers, if I get some spare time over half-term there will be a Welsh version up and running.

How do you manage the content on your web site and do you have a publishing policy?

I will try and update most pages when needed. For example, if there is a event in the bandroom or an engagement that is news-worthy, I will try and get it up as soon as possible. I will update any other pages as often as possible.

What would you recommend as the best way to start to learn about designing and building www sites?

Initally, I would buy a book explaining HTML and build a site through that. Then, I would move on to a simple WYSIWYG editor such as Frontpage before moving on to Dreamweaver. Learning to use any other programmes such as Photoshop or Flash would be bonuses.

Do you have a favourite technical reference book for budding web designers?

Not exactly a book, but the monthly .net magazine is perfect for any budding web designer - full of tips and tutorials and free software, can't go wrong, although a bit pricey at £5.99 a month.

How do you see the influence of the internet assisting the banding movement over the next 5 to 10 years?

Maybe one day we will have online streaming of contests. Another area I one day hope to implement to the site is a 'members-only' area, where members of the band can log in and do various things such as check engagements, music, details etc.....

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

www.citizens-choice.co.uk
www.redrepublik.net
www.gmail.com
www.themouthpiece.com

www.google.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.

www.bbc.co.uk - anything and everything a website needs.

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

Probaby www.citizens-choice.co.uk , as I'm an avid Bangor City fan it's one of the best football websites I know of.

Do you use online community forums, if so, which ones do you use?

Yes, mostly football related - www.citizens-choice.co.uk, www.redrepublik.net, www.redcafe.net, www.pesfan.com, www.themouthpiece.com

What do you do to relax and unwind?

Listen to some music on my Creative Zen, read a book, go over to the lady friend's house, go out.

Tell us something about yourself that we don't already know.

Even though I'm an United fan, I had a trail at Liverpool when I was 14, and the Football Association blocked me extending my 6 weeks contract as I lived roughly 8 miles outside of the 90 miles limit. At the time I had an uncle who lived on the Wirral aswell.

What are your other hobbies?
I am a very keen sportsman. I enjoy playing football, rugby, cross country and golf and take a keen interest in keeping fit in the local gym. Unfortunately, I have been unable to play football or rugby for a few months due to a torn cartiladge and I'm awaiting (***** NHS! ) a minor operation on that, so at the moment my Tuesday evening are spent coaching the under 9's Penrhosgarnedd team. I also enjoy socialising, going out with my mates, listening to music and reading.

What do you drive?

It's illegal for me to drive for the next month, but I have already sent my application form for my provisional, and hopefully I'll be driving my mam's blue Fiat Punto after my 17th birthday in November.