Saturday, August 2, 2008

Pipe Band Forum 1-4-08

Pipe Band Website

This is a touchy subject for me, so this is a bit long.

When I joined the band I'm in they didn't have a website. They had one at some point in time, but after some changes in the band I guess no one kept it up and it went down. They still had the domain name, but it was actually registered to someone who was no longer in the band.

I offered to help out - the band manager said that would be great, but didn't give me any direction. I created a website and showed it to the band manager. He loved it and said he would help me with content. I told him he would need to get the domain name transfered back to the band so we could use it. Nothing happened. I went ahead and purchased a new domain name using .org instead of .com, I paid for a hosting service and put the site up.

I got lots of positive comments and the band committee started having me put tunes and scores on the site in a members only section. I kept asking for content such as band history, roster, etc. Never got any help. I winged it and did the best I could with what I had.

I'm like most of you, I hate websites that are out of date and not maintained. I didn't want that with this site. I wanted people to visit regularly and find something new each time. I had video and audio clips of the band. I had news stories and current photographs of performances that were updated regularly. Sheet music and drum scores were available for band members to download including mpg files of the tunes and scores that could be loaded onto an ipod.

I continued to get positive comments from band members and the band manager mentioned it often at practices.

The band was trying to decide if it was a good idea to split the grade III and grade IV bands up for practice. I thought that was a good poll question so I posted a poll on the website in the members only section. Almost immediately an email was sent out to the entire band stating that the poll was not authorized. True - actually nothing on the site was authorized; and if they had sent me an email I would have pulled it immediately and had no problem with it - it just pissed me off a bit that the email was sent to the entire band. I closed the poll.

I had paid (out of my own pocket) for the domain name and the hosting services, plus all the time I'd put into it. I asked the band manager what he wanted - do I get input from the committee on what goes on the website or not. Again, no response.

Bear in mind that by then the site was on most search engines and was referenced on several other piping sites (including WUSPBA and this forum) as a link to the band. Band members were also accessing the site to get band information and it also had a page where persons interested in hiring the band could get booking information. It was a well maintained site.

The hosting contract renewed in October last year and I asked the band manager what I should do. He said they were going to get someone else to do the website. I transfered the domain name I had registered to the band (no charge) and since October our band has no website - what a shame!

In the mean time, most of the other bands here have fairly good websites. Lots of good information and fun to visit. Wish we were one of them.

My opinion is that websites should be important to a band. It gives them an identity on the web and a place for people to learn more about them. One of my favorite things to do is check out band's websites. I also like the websites of individual pipers and some day when I have something interesting to produce I'll put up my own.

If the time ever comes to transfer bands I'm going to find one that wants to kept their members and the public informed about them. I'll be looking for a good website.

Would I have decided differently had info on that band been readily available? No, as my choice of bands involved more than driving distance to practice, but at least they'd have given due consideration.
I agree that just having a website shouldn't be the main criteria for choosing a band. While my previous posting may have made our band sound like a terrible place to be, it actually has a lot of positive things about it. There are certainly the usual politics, but it could be a lot worse ... I've heard stories.

Anyway, all this got me thinking that I might start my own website again (non band). I just registered a domain name and I think I'll start to work on it.

I wasn't as upset about the money as I was about the time and effort I put into it and the lack of any appreciation from the leadership. I kept up the site for as long as I did because of band members like scarhand who liked it and said so.

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