A Site for Sore Eyes


By Steve Oppenheimer

(October 2006)

Have you visited the EM Web site recently? If not, you should make a point of doing so, because you are in for a pleasant surprise. When we last redesigned our Web site four years ago, we made a huge improvement over the old, corporate-looking, battleship gray site we had suffered with previously, and we were justifiably pleased. But although the design was a good one for its time, any Web site starts looking tired if it hasn’t been changed in four years. We wanted a fresh look that was easy on the eyes and easy to navigate and provided room to grow.

In addition to the desire for a new look, we had a more compelling reason to redesign our site: we had added a lot more content over the years, and the old design was inadequate to present it all properly. Navigation was getting more difficult, the home page looked crowded, and it required too many clicks to access some of the site’s features.

To get the redesign under way, EM associate publisher Joe Perry, Webmaster Tami Needham, and I met with our company’s technical group and told them what we had in mind. To our delight, they responded enthusiastically, quickly assembling a talented team that included coordinator Samantha Kahn, Web expert Dan Cross, project manager Asif Rahman, and Web designer Jennie Lee.

We felt strongly that our new design should be classy and should reflect the quality that we try to put into everything that is associated with EM. Furthermore, our editors and our site visitors are creative musicians, and we wanted our site to reflect that fact. To that end, we asked Jennie to use her imagination and not feel bound by how other magazines in our company and in the music-tech industry did things.

For my part, I wanted to reach far outside of the music and music-tech fields for inspiration, so I asked Jennie to look over the sites of some of my favorite high-class magazines — in particular, those of National Geographic and Smithsonian. I chose those two in particular because they are beautiful and creative and present information well.

After some back-and-forth discussions and tweaks, Jennie came up with a very attractive design that is just what we wanted, and we are confident that you will enjoy it too. And whereas our old design eventually became clogged with content, the new site has been designed to accommodate growth.

I won’t get into our future plans for the site yet, because I don’t want to promote vaporware and most of the new features are still in development. The one thing I will reveal is that an editorial blog is in the works, and it will be ready to launch soon — perhaps even by the time you read this. Otherwise, suffice it to say we have a lot more up our sleeves, and the new design provides a platform on which we can build. So stay tuned; I’ll announce new site features in this column when we are ready to introduce them.

The new Web site is live now, so please visit www.emusician.com and enjoy! As always, if you have feedback, please be sure to email me at emeditorial@emusician.com.