Since Antarctica, a DC area rock band.
After over a year of playing gigs and crafting original tunes, the band spent some time in the studio a few months ago to lay tracks for their first album. While they already have a decent local fan following on Facebook and had a workable website of their own, it was time for them to turn things up a little more in the push with album publicity.
Lead singer Shannon Woods had built out the WordPress theme Since Antarctica’s site had been using and it was doing a good enough job of showcasing their music, letting them get the word out for events, and helping people get in touch with them. She (and the rest of the band) really wanted something a little more, something that included the artwork from the new album and had a little more flexibility. Like many people who go the DIY route with a theme, fitting in some tinkering among all the other demands of daily life (and a rock star nightlife), Shannon’s theme lacked some of the more advanced bits that really make WordPress shine as a content management system (like wigitized sidebars and a mix of dynamic content throughout the site).
The only real criteria the band had was that the new album artwork be featured prominently and that the site didn’t look too “blog-like.”
Right off the top I noticed that there wasn’t anywhere on the site where the band was collecting email addresses for their own mailing list. They have a presence on ReverbNation, and that has a mail list option that can be used, but it doesn’t appear to be quite as robust or flexible as more dedicated services. So, right off the top, I had them set up an account on MailChimp.
Most of the fan interaction was going on via the band’s Facebook fan page. I suggested that they put up a special tab with their mailing list sign up form on it and direct people to that while we took care of the website redesign. As a little bit of a push to jump start the list-building, we decided it would fun to give away a copy of their new CD to someone who signed up for the mailing list. The band took care of implementing that promotion and we should see the results soon, after the album comes out.
Design-wise, the existing theme wasn’t bad, but it lacked some key features and an underlying structure that would support easy modification and growth. To take care of that, I made the choice to build the theme as a child of the Genesis framework. With a few plugins like Genesis Simple Hooks and Genesis Simple Edits and some new code added to the child-theme’s functions file, it was possible to build the entire child theme without creating a single new page template. Everything else was done using CSS.
After a little bit of back and forth on rough designs, we decided we’d stick with the existing idea of keeping the band’s name full-width on the front page, but wanted to bring the content a little higher on interior pages. Using a reduced-size logo on the interior pages, there was space in the header to add the mail list signup and the social media icons. This freed up space in the sidebar for other promotional or featured content.
To really make the font page jump, I made use of the dynamic content gallery plugin to feature new content. Keeping that a reasonable size left some space to the right of it for a slightly larger mail list pitch than on the interior pages. Below the feature area we went with full-width teasers for the most recent content, only slightly modifying the default homepage display by removing the sidebar via CSS.
Overall, the redesign wasn’t that difficult, but the effect was pretty stunning.
On the front end of things, visitors are presented with a much more dynamic experience with more chances to interact with the band (via the more prominent social media icons, newly added share option on posts, the mailing list sign up, and a fully functional contact form).
On the back end, the addition of properly widgetized areas makes it easier for the band to update content in the sidebar and header whenever they want. The Genesis templates make full use of all the available Worpdress functionality, meaning additional modules can easily be put in place and work properly within the site design.
Since Antarctica will be releasing their first album this weekend. At that show they’ll also be encouraging fans to sign up on the mailing list. As far as the site itself goes, the band was already updating it on their own, so they’ll continue doing that, but can now highlight their content better and should see an increase in traffic and interaction as visitors discover the share options.
Client Reaction (Update)
The album release was this past weekend and the band was so happy with the site they gave me a shout-out on stage between songs. Here, check it out: