tMP Exclusive Interview with Sue SpeakmanBy way of an introduction, could you please tell us a little about yourself
Webmistress – Blackburn and Darwen Band
I was born and bred in Darwen and have lived here all my life. I am one of the longest serving members of the band, apart from a brief spell at Longridge have been at Darwen since 1977. I work as an ICT Technician at a local primary school.
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?
I am currently playing 1st horn.
How long have you been involved in web design, and how did you first get involved in it?
I have been involved in web design for around 5 years, by first designing a web site for the school I currently work for. I then took on the role of Web Mistress for the band a couple of years ago.
Do you manage/run any other web sites, if so, which ones?
As well as the band website I also manage the school website where I work. www.avondaleschool.co.uk
What applications did you use to build your site and why did you choose these?
This is my 3rd attempt at building the band’s website! Previously I used a Freeserve sitebuilder, then I had a go at building one from scratch using Notepad and Html and then I came across a fantastic site maker called Moonfruit.
Moonfruit SiteMaker is a multiple award-winning website building service that allows you to quickly and easily create professional looking websites.
I chose it so that ongoing updating and day-to-day maintenance of the site could easily be carried out by other band members who may have no web build experience.
Please can you explain for us how you prepared and planned for the development of the site when asked to implement this for Blackburn and Darwen?
I started by having a look at other sites to see what I liked and what I didn’t and then began building the site page by page with the help of our chairman Tariq. One of our members Sarah had done a dissertation on the bands’ history for her degree. Sharon our solo baritone player is into graphic design and she made the bands logo and our solo Euph players’ dad is into photography and took some new band photos.
What content do you feel should be included on a brass band www site?
I think a band website should be welcoming to general surfers as well as bands people and contain up to date information on what the band has been doing and forthcoming engagements. It’s nice to read about the History of other bands too.
Do you use innovative ideas on your www site?
No not really, I think it is important for a website to be it as clean as possible without all the unnecessary clutter.
Why should people visit the Blackburn and Darwen www site?
The website is always up to date, our chairman even updated it on New Years Day to say we had won Website of the Month!
What do you feel is important when designing and implementing www sites…?
It needs to be welcoming, visitor friendly and easy to navigate around.
How long did this site actually take you to build?
My 3rd attempt probably took around 3 weeks but when I asked my husband that question he said ‘forever’!
How do you manage the content on your web site and do you have a publishing policy?
The content is managed by several band members including myself. Alan our solo cornet player is good at writing reports on contests, Tariq is the ‘Latest News guy’ and Vicky provides the dates for engagements. We don’t have a publishing policy.
What would you recommend as the best way to start to learn about designing and building www sites?
Although I used a site maker to build our website I think it is important to learn the basics of html. There are lots of websites on the net to help with this.
Do you have a favourite technical reference book for budding web designers?
http://www.lissaexplains.com/ is a great website for learning the basics of web design it was written by a child and is easy to understand. I use it with the kids at school.
How do you see the influence of the internet assisting the banding movement over the next 5 to 10 years?
The internet has had a huge influence on the running of our band. Recruiting of players via brass band forums and advertising of concert / events being most useful. I think the use of online deputising databases will be used more in the future. More brass band players are now using facebook to keep in contact with each other, which I think is a good thing.
In most visited order, what are your 5 most frequently used www sites?
www.blackburnanddarwenband.co.uk Surprise surprise!
www.facebook.com we have a site for our band on there.
www.themouthpiece.com of course!
www.hotukdeals.com I’ve saved a fortune on there.
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.moneysavingexpert.com – great advice from Martin
www.youtube.com – some great band videos.
Could you please name your all time favourite www site, and why so?
www.facebook.com – Fantastic for communicating with friends and I’m afraid I’m addicted to the silly games!
Do you use online community forums, if so, which ones do you use?
The mouthpiece.com Forum and one I have set up for the band.
What do you do to relax and unwind?
Surf the net and watch corrie!
Tell us something about yourself that we don't already know.
I once had a job driving an ice cream van but couldn’t get the hang of the Mr Whippy machine!
What are your other hobbies?
I’m afraid banding and computers take up all my time!
What do you drive?
Renault Clio although I’d love a Mercedes SLK!