Big Music Website Redesigns

Sites get old. They start to get krufty, or out of fashion, or whatever. As web designers, there is nothing we like better than to completely redo a site. Re-strategize, re-colorize, re-semantifize. Just Redo It. Love love love redesigns. Client says, “Hey my website is running kind of slow.” Redesign! “I need to increase my traffic by 10% or I’m out of business.” Redesign! “Um, my email isn’t working right.” Redesign! See how exciting that is?

But I’ve noticed something on this one site I’ve been using for a while. The site in question,, has recently made some incremental, positive improvements to their site. An example: in-page previewing of songs and albums. This is big a step forward from the 30 second iTunes stream of yore, which would lag, and which you would then need to delete from your library by hand, quietly informing those within 40 or 50 feet of your desk that there was a better way.

Then, tonight, I notice their album download page has been almost completely redone. The actual preview is the same (or nearly), but they have added YouTube videos of songs from this album. They have a Wikipedia entry. They’ve somehow gotten users to write actual reviews, rather than terse, meaningless loved it/hated it knee-jerk comments!

The team at emusic has taught me something. The lesson: You don’t have to redo a whole site in order to make big improvements. While the header, navigation, and footer, has been worked on, much of the site remains virtually untouched for a few years now. And it works fine.

I know the thought is intoxicating: an entire site, springing forth, fully-formed, modern, minimalist, community-centered. From the GROUND UP! One minute, same old site. Flip that switch and bask in the onslaught of blogglory that inevitably follows. As I’ve been shown, this is not the only way to meaningfully improve your user’s experience.

But now I’m all mad, cause I’m out of downloads this month.

Disclosure: I am an investor in emusic. In the sense that I regularly invest something like $9/mo into their company. Because of this generous duodeci-yearly contribution, emusic allows me to download a certain amount music from their site every month.

P.S. That band I linked to above is awesome. It’s these two guys from Belfast, and from the sounds coming out of the stage, you wouldn’t believe it was just two people making all that audio.

posted by Pete Lasko on Sunday, Aug 10, 2008