tMP Exclusive Interview with Michael McCann
Webmaster – Bactiguard Wire Brass


By way of an introduction, could you please tell us a little about yourself
My name is Mike McCann - I am 44 years of age, live in Congleton, Cheshire with my lovely girlfriend Carol (and 4 cats and Golden Retriever!). I studied music at York University (trumpet and classical guitar) but am a wedding and glamour photographer by profession.

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 play 2nd cornet with Wire Brass. In the past I have played cornet with Blackpool Brass, Freckleton and Rode Hall, Euphonium with Rode Hall and Bb Bass with Blackpool Brass and Rode Hall.

How long have you been involved in web design, and how did you first get involved in it?
I have been writing websites since 1996 when I set up a web-server business in the US to provide hosting services for the photographic and adult industries!

Do you manage/run any other web sites, if so, which ones?
I design, manage and run many other websites including www.timenplace.co.uk , www.northwestphotography.co.uk and others that cannot be listed here

What applications did you use to build your site and why did you choose these?
I tried to use as much basic html as possible with just a few javascript sections as I wanted the website to be compatible with all web browsers and be updated easily by others who don't have great knowledge of programming.

Please can you explain for us how you prepared and planned for the development of the site when asked to implement this for Bactiguard Wire Brass?
The preparation period was short! Wire Brass already had a website so I simply took the content from that website, updated the design and added features that were missing from the old site. I was given great freedom in the design and content (basically just told to 'get on with it' !)

What content do you feel should be included on a brass band www site?
Everything possible ! Players and their families want to know about what is going on in the band, friends of the band want to know about forthcoming engagements and others in the Brass Band world want to know about contest results and vacancies. We also wanted to promote our kind sponsors Bactiguard by informing visitors about the company and the work they do. We have also included videos and audio tracks to help promote our unique style of music (and sell our CD's !!)

Do you use innovative ideas on your www site?
Most definately ! Many brass band sites use 'news feeds' from 4barsrest.com to show news from around the brass band world on their individual sites. We introduced a way of displaying the information using a 'widget' rather than standard news feed. This has been so successful that 4barsrest themselves have made it the standard way that this is now done. We have also used a calendar system from Google Docs that enables any member of the band to update our forthcoming events list - which also shows ticket information and maps to the venues at which we have engagements. It means forthcoming events (including band rehearsals) are updated on a central calendar which is then 'pulled' onto the website automatically, enabling those with no programming knowledge to update that section of the site.

Why should people visit the Bactiguard Wire Brass www site?
Not only can you get information about the band, events and it's players but also see videos and hear audio tracks from the band's latest CD's. There is a section on the site which shows a playlist of our favourite Youtube music performed by other bands that is updated regularly.

What do you feel is important when designing and implementing www sites…?
It is important that is is easy to use, is 'cross browser' compatible (ie it looks good in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Safari, AOL and Google Chrome) and is updated regulary so that people keep coming back to see what has been added. It is also very important that it is hosted on a fast server, especially if you are displaying hi-res pictures and video. (People dont like waiting!)

How long did this site actually take you to build?
The site took 2 days to complete - but is constantly being 'tweaked' to improve it's look and performance.

How do you manage the content on your web site and do you have a publishing policy?
I keep a close look at the site server stats so I know what news items, pictures and videos are popular. I will therefore be updating the site in the future with items that I know people want to see. It's not just about giving information about the band but providing an entertaining experience for the visitor.

What would you recommend as the best way to start to learn about designing and building www sites?
Take a look at your favourite sites, click 'View Source' from your web-browser and see how it is written. Plagiarism is the best way to learn !

Do you have a favourite technical reference book for budding web designers?
No

How do you see the influence of the internet assisting the banding movement over the next 5 to 10 years?
Not much I'm afraid. Most brass bands, contest/concert organisers and brass band fans are ..... how can I put it..... of a certain age ! Just look at the age-group of the audience at an average brass band concert. Unfortunately we are dealing with an age-group unlikely to be won over by flash web sites and hi-tech promotional techniques. In my opinion it is more important that brass bands modernise their look, their music and try and become more popular to a younger audience. Only when that happens will the internet will become important, but not until !

In most visited order, what are your 5 most frequently used www sites?
www.google.com
www.4barsrest.com
www.themouthpiece.com
www.youtube.com
www.bbc.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.
It would be inappropriate to list any of my own sites here (although tempting!) but I would suggest a visit to www.thecleverest.com . Im a bit of a 'geek' and love this site!

Could you please name your all time favourite www site, and why so?
Has to be www.google.com It's just so much more that a search engine. Most people only use 5% of it's power. Try using google earth, google maps, google docs, Gmail, Google news, Picasa (the best image gallery software around), google calendar etc etc

Do you use online community forums, if so, which ones do you use?
Not really, no.

What do you do to relax and unwind?
I love great food, good wine and reading. (and practicing the 2nd cornet part to Cloudcatcher Fells!)

Tell us something about yourself that we don't already know.
I am a qualified 'yachtmaster' and spent 2 years is The Canary Islands learning to sail.
I am adopted, my natural parents being a Polish peasant (father) and member of Latvian aristocracy (mother)
I used to be a woman called Michelle until a very expensive sex-change operation in 1998 (only joking!)

What are your other hobbies?

I adore Sailing, Skiing and playing SantsClaustraphobia (private joke!)

What do you drive?
Audi A6 and Honda CRV