Website Name – Metal Sound News
Website URL – https://metalsoundnews.wordpress.com/
Twitter URL – https://twitter.com/MetalSoundNews
Metal Sound News is a website for fans of the Metal, Rock, Punk, Hardcore and Alternative genres of Music to keep up to date with what’s happening in the music world with New Releases, Tours and other news. To set this site apart from other Music News sites, such as Alternative Press and Loudwire, there is a greater focus on Local (Adelaide, Australia) tours and music while also covering the larger international bands to attract an audience from outside of Australia. Viewers of the articles are also encouraged to comment and discuss their thoughts on the content (New Release song, etc.) as well as share their experiences at concerts including photos or videos they may have of the bands to add a fan based perspective to the events and content. There is also a brand beyond the website on the social media sites Facebook and Twitter to promote the site and build a community of musicians and music fans interacting and sharing music and experiences.
Visual Communication and Design
Metal Sound News relies heavily on the use of Images to attract the attention of a viewer. Each article has a featured image, usually a Promotional Photo of the Band the article is discussing or related Album Artwork, which is shown prominently above the articles title and excerpt. The intent of this is for the viewer to immediately be drawn to the images as soon as they open the page and be incline to read on. As the site is based in Entertainment media, a viewer would much rather see and hear the content than read it. If presented with a large amount of text upon opening the site they will be much more inclined to leave the site than if presented with images and headlines of bands they are fans of. The page does have a Header Image and Title displaying the Website name, however I deliberately kept this relatively small so viewers would not have to scroll down on their device to see the latest content. This is because the most important aspect of the site is the content and therefore should be the first thing a viewer sees upon opening the site. Text on the home page is therefore very minimal. It is used more extensively in the articles; however, the main focus is still on the featured image and the embedded video especially in articles about Newly Released tracks. As such these articles are present in a similar way to traditional news sites such as BBC News. Each article begins with the featured image and headline. The viewer scrolls down to read the articles text. There is also at least one YouTube video embedded either at the end or in the middle of the article. Along the right hand side of the page is a widget linking to the Twitter feed.
User Interface Design
The website has been designed to work along with its Twitter and Facebook pages. However, the Facebook page was suspended by Facebook Moderators. Links to the articles are posted to the social media pages which can be followed and shared by the audience. These links lead directly to the articles. This allows for particular articles to be easily promoted and shared on Social Media as well as allowing new viewers to find the site through a band they are already a fan of.
Metal Sound News features a dynamic Homepage. The latest articles are featured at the top of the homepage to draw attention to it as a new article. As new articles are posted the previous ones are moved down the page. The page also features a Menu Bar along the top. This menu allows a user to navigate the site and search for a particular category of content. These categories are “News”, “New Releases”, “Tours”, or a specific band covered in articles on the site. The site also features several widgets at the bottom of the page. Widget 1 is a list of recently published articles. Widget 2 is a list of every article tag used on the site. Widget 3 is a link to the site’s Twitter Feed. These widgets allow quick access to content and social media from wherever the viewer is on the site.
As viewer navigates the site, the Header Image, Menu Bar and Bottom Widgets remain static within the page to allow for quick navigation from page to page.
Embedded into the site’s articles are videos from YouTube related to the content and links to official pages from the band. These links allow viewers to directly view content from the bands and purchase tickets to concerts and order CDs and other merchandise. This also helps support the bands as they will get payment and certification for the streams through their official YouTube pages.
User Experience Design across Digital Platforms
Metal Sound News also has a presence on both Twitter and Facebook. Unfortunately, Facebook Moderators have suspended the Facebook page of Metal Sound News at this time. The Social Media pages for the site all feature the same Header Image, Title Font and Logo Image as the main site. The intent is to create a cross platform brand with each aspect clearly associated with one another. The main purpose of the Social Media pages is to link viewers and followers to new articles featured on the main site. The use of Hashtags tagging the band, album/single and any other associated tags allows the post to appear within searches specific to the content as well as the brand. Much of the interface design is set by the respective services however they do provide a large potential for sharing, promoting and discussion.
Data Metrics provided by both Twitter and WordPress have shown that interest in Metal Sound News isn’t isolated to Adelaide, South Australia. Viewers have been located in Australia, Europe, North America, Asia and Latin America. The metrics also reveal that these views focus on specific articles, especially an article about the Swedish band “Dead By April” and are often linked to the site through Social Media or a Search Engine instead of the sites homepage. However, viewers were not commenting, liking or sharing the articles and have had a very low engagement rate on Twitter. This can be expected to some extent as the brand expands and the websites content library becomes more expansive and broader. I can also make further use of Hashtags to help the posts reach a more relevant and broader audience through Search Engines in and out of the Social Media pages.
So far many of the views have been from members of the Thursday Digital Media class, of which many are not fans of the particular style of music covered on the site. This means they are not going to engage with the content and click onto articles. This shows I need to be particular in my promotion to a target audience as only people who are already metal music fans will engage with the brand as a whole. This is the only audience metric that is consistent as age, gender and nationality vary to large extent.
Future Directions and Development
If I were to further develop Metal Sound News further there are several components I would modify or further extend. Firstly, I would continue to expand and broaden the content on the site. Secondly, I would increase the focus on the local music community by adding a constantly updated Local gig guide for Adelaide and other Australian cities, along with first hand reviews of local shows and promotion of local bands’ music and merchandise. These will include links to Social Media, Websites, Spotify/Soundcloud/YouTube of the band.
I would also further expand the Social Media presence of the brand to further promote the site through more extensive use of Hashtags to add the content to a wider range of searches related to the bands and music communities.