Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Six Website Strategies

by Hannah Frank

Some sites offer the kitchen sink while others are like an intriguing first date. Here are some categories to help your online game. Organize your site by deciding your purpose: sales, familiarity with your brand (soft sell), presentation of data, email capture (ongoing communication) or "internet tourism".

  1. Sell, Sell Sell: The homepage features an immediate "call to action" and display of merch. The goal is clear: the site "first impression" is designed for clicking and buying. This isn't necessarily bad: if fans will come to the site to find out how to buy a product, this is a declaration that the website is a trusted POS (point of sale).

  2. Pleased to Meet Me: Many website designs are focused on blogging, but that doesn't mean you need to invent yourself as something more interesting than you are. This type of site is a labor-intensive collection of videos, blog entries, essays, poems, artwork, pictures of cats, etc.  It's time intensive for the artist (most sites in this style are built directly by the artist) and not focused on sales. While this type of presentation can be magical in giving a quick feel to the artist's creative process and inner workings of their mind, it also requires serious fans willing to browse it at length. It creates a personal connection with the artist, yet the conversational tone can be unfiltered (TMI) and familiarity can breed contempt and boredom. For some artists that operate in a niche or are truly working in an advanced multimedia style requiring explanation, the shoe may fit. However, for the most part, get your head out of your ass already.

  3. Search & You Will Find: Organized information about artists, projects, releases and/or services. The goal of this site style is to give brand credibility and build a legacy. It tells readers "this information is important." It is extensive, but feels respectful. This type of site is high on easy to find information and low on drivel. It will likely have crisp bios and professional photos. Be careful of being too slick...make sure the deep content is as good as the surface.

  4. The Overwhelming First Date: we just met, but can we have your email address to take this further? Sites with a lot of content often want to share it, but can invest more time in learning about the viewer. If your site has a lot of content to share that's great. But consider ways to learn about the readers, or make different areas of the site for window shoppers, customers, public and/or industry partners so that all viewers are not funneled down the same chute.

  5. Bits and Pieces: This type of site is a destination, you can almost feel a breath of fresh air as the browser opens. It includes integration with social media, image-based blog entries (look at the pretty colors), and plenty of subtle calls to action. There's no single call to action, and the website style encourages browsing. While this style is great for not hitting viewers over the head, make sure it's "sticky" enough to give them a reason to return, share and buy. If branding is the goal, and only goal, then show the bits.

  6. The website for offline...seems counter intuitive, but consider if your website or online presence is actually meant to drive action off line. Examples are readers attending an event, physically walking into a brick and mortar store, or another offline activity. Hard to believe, but there is life beyond the screen. Take this to heart and make sure the online world you create isn't more interesting than real life. Hope this helps as you build a new website or tweak an existing site for maximum leverage. As the Internet, especially with the combo of social media and smart phones, makes it possible to capture and share just about any content designers desire...make sure it's what your readers desire also.

  Media Bonus: The magic of the Internet allows us to view this video in regards to #1. Coffee is for closers, but will hard sells cause the reader to close the browser? That is the question.

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 Reach Hannah at axis.contact@gmail.com or Twitter @HannahFrankGrp

Revelatory Night of Pop/Folk with Sarah Eide and Jan Seides Sat 10/1/16 (Chicago)

Songwriters Sarah Eide and Jan Seides bring a revelatory pop/folk music to Uncommon Ground 1401 W. Devon, Saturday October 1 at 9:00pm. The pairing is a unique blend with some exciting contrasts.

Sarah Eide has been carving a name in the Chicago music scene over the past few years, although she originally hails from the East coast. Performing with percussionists, guitarists and a full band make each show a flavorful adventure. At this show, her cinematic and intricate piano work will be accented by James Abud, multi-instrumentalist based in Chicago. Visceral sensitivity, wrapped in bold song titles like “Forgiveness” and “Challenge & Victory”, is the key to her trademark sound: introspection with great musicality.

Comparable to Laura Nyro, a pianist/composer from the 60’s soul-folk underground, Eide also has a swinging rock piano style and intellectually satisfying arrangements. While Nyro comes off as vulnerable at times, Eide has a steadfast, empowering vibe along with sweet approach-ability. 

A personal favorite, listen to this song in the morning and seize the day:


While Sarah’s song The Prodigal Son references the Bible story, co-headliner Jan Seides of Austin, Texas also uses historical stories as a jumping off point for creative lyrics. Her song Delilah’s Lament is written from the point of view of Delilah the “hairdresser” of Sampson in the famous story.

A Texan who has lived in NYC, her music likewise combines country charm with city class. From travelling overseas and sharing her music in Ireland and Britain, to Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee, her composure and sense of quiet drama show she’s a masterful storyteller. Her lilting voice floats over the songs like a flock of birds overhead. A pianist, guitarist and singer, her Elizabethan sense of beauty shows a deep connection to music as oral history.

Seide’s axe stylings include lucid fingerpicking which smartly never overwhelms the vocal, but surrounds and supports it. Not surprising from a musician who discovered she had perfect pitch before Kindergarten-- and went on to transcribe songs by other writers to learn the craft. She’s won regional New Folk category in Kerrville, and her original work has been recognized by The Great American Song Contest and received awards across the country, from Michigan to Florida. A traveler that chose guitar for its portability, Jan says, “I fell in love with traveling, and out of that began touring with my music. Really, I haven’t yet decided which is in the service of the other.” [-[www.janseides.com]

The show Saturday features a full set by each artist. Plus, after the show there will be only one degree of separation between you and Madonna.




Sarah’s set includes a special appearance by Damon Grant, a Percussionist, Educator and Composer who has shared his rhythms on bills with acts such as Dirty Dozen Brass Band and George Clinton, multiple Olympic ceremonies and worked with Madonna on her 2012 Super Bowl half time show. By Damon citing ‘Animal’, from the Muppets as an early influence that sparked his imagination, you know fun is a frontrunner alongside musicality.

All this will be happening at Uncommon Ground 1401 W. Devon, Chicago, IL 60660 on Saturday October 1, 2016 at 9:00pm. The venue features a full dinner and drink menu, make reservations by calling (773) 465-9801.

These singing wordsmiths also share unique surnames, so when you go know that Sarah’s last name is pronounced “Ada” while Jan’s last name is pronounced “Sigh-deez”. 

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