Brassica is a musical band of historical re-enactors in the San Francisco Bay Area. Their original website was created in 2010 with no professional assistance or user experience testing. They’ve requested me to act as their UX Designer to redesign the site. The new site will have a modern layout and improved usability, while meeting the goals established by the band.
Given that most bands communicate with their audience through social media and music sharing sites like Bandcamp, Brassica wants to evaluate what is the purpose of a modern band website.
Because the website will be maintained by the band, it must be easy to update while looking modern. This requires expressing the most amount of necessary information in simple, organized sections, preferably in only a few pages. In this way, the band are not only stakeholders; they are primary users.
In order to determine the goals and stylistic preferences for the new website, I took a three-pronged approach to research:
1. Interview the band to evaluate their needs and expectations.
The band’s primary concern was the ability to update and maintain the site. They liked the previous aesthetic, fonts and color choices. For the update, it made sense to keep the look and feel, while simplifying the color palette and match it to current accessibility standards.
2. Interview fans and potential fans from a variety of demographics.
The general public interviews ranged from people who had never heard of the band, or their particular musical genres to super fans. Across the spectrum, every interviewee agreed most information about a band can be found on their social media platforms. This has the advantage that a person does not have to exit their favorite app.
History, Theater, Folk Music, Cosplay,
Tabletop RPGs, Top Hats
Music purchasing habits
More likely to buy CDs than download.
Preferred Social Media
Historical dramas, Cosplay, Online RPGs,
heard “Wellerman” on TikTok, Snapback Caps
Music purchasing habits
Streaming music services like Spotify
Preferred Socia Media
3. Survey band sites with similar genres and fan bases.
Band websites focused on two main messages – Band Identity and Merchandising. Some bands used to site to introduce new fans by showing more imagery and descriptions. Other bands, generally ones with a more established fan base, put merchandise and ticket sales at the top of the page before explaining who they were and what they were about.
After reviewing similar band and artist sites for content, the findings were similar. The primary goal of the sites were to either sell merchandise, or promote the band identity, particularly because these artist perform outside the most common musical genres. Most sites also had the goals of broadcasting tour dates, and direct asks for money via tip jars or Patreon. They all provided prominent CTAs to direct viewers to their social media platforms.
Introduce the band to new potential fans.
Inform the public of the upcoming tour.
Ask for patronage.
Direct fans to social media platforms.
Feedback from the general public is critical in creating a site that informs and entertain, in order to attract new fans.
User testing was conducted using a Figma prototype. I tested with three different audiences: the band, a group of potential fans, and a typical fan. Each was asked to evaluate the style, flow, ease of use, and most important – did the site meet the band’s goals.
After testing, potential fans wanted more emphasis on the band’s identity so GALLERY was relabeled ABOUT US, and provided a more biographical viewpoint with STORY at the top, followed by the LATEST VIDEO and PHOTOS. The MUSIC section was combined with SHOP which connected the band’s music to the purchase process.
The NEWS AND REVIEWS section from the home page was removed, with the understanding that fans could receive up-to-date information on the social media pages.
The language for the SHOP was edited to match similar successful band shops. Finally, to further establish the esoteric nature of the band, a scrolling banner was added to the top of the home page, listing the wide variety of genres the band performs.
In the last decade, sales and marketing in the music industry has moved from individual websites to social media and streaming services. Maintaining a private site can be expensive and time consuming without a guarantee of enough traffic to validate the effort. It was interesting with this project to research the most fundamental question: Why? Why does a band still need a website?
A band certainly doesn’t need one, but it does help. The site works as a supplement to social media, and a repository for fans to find all the important information they need in one place.
The ultimate goal is the take the site live, replacing Brassica with the real band. To accomplish this, I will work with the band to finalize the design, then work with the technical team to build a functioning site.