The Evolution of a Website

Today is an exciting day.  Today marks the launch of the completely redesigned Pet Dragon Music website.  This update has been a lot of fun, because, for the first time, I worked with a designer.  All I needed to do was tell her what I wanted, and then it was up to Lisa Wright (of Wright Now Designs) to figure out how to make it work.  No more web designing for me!

Now, this latest update got me thinking about about the evolution of the site over the years.  I mean, I don’t think it’s a revelation to say that composers need a web presence.  There are lots of components to that presence nowadays – Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, WordPress, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, even MySpace in its day.  But those things are most often anchored around a website, and when I decided to launch Pet Dragon Music.com, a website was just about all that was available.  And as a student, I had no money to pay someone else to design it, so I had to do it all myself.  At the time, there were only a few WYSIWYG web design programs, and fewer free ones, so I learned some basic html coding and downloaded Netscape Composer.  And launched my website with my cute little cartoon dragon logo on a nice, peach-y background.

The original Pet Dragon

The original Pet Dragon

OK, I never claimed to be a visual artist.

All things considered, I was pretty pleased with the site, though.  Over the years, I made sure I kept it updated with current news, changed the background and layout a few times, learned how to stream my recordings.  I was pretty proud of myself.

I also continually worked on improving the site, streamlining it.  It started looking cleaner and more professional with each update.  But my design options, like my html skills, were pretty limited.

Then I bought a Mac – complete with iWeb.  That was actually a lot of fun.  I could play with the templates, change the look of my site pretty dramatically, and I didn’t have to delve into html coding. A little iWeb fun Not bad.  There were a couple of limitations I had to figure out how to work around, and a couple of others I couldn’t conquer, but all in all, I was happy with the look.  Until I realized how many sites I was seeing that looked the same as mine.  I started to recognize which iWeb template people were using.  In other words, I wasn’t unique any more. It was clear I was going to need help.

So I turned Lisa.  I knew that the first order of business was an update to my cute – but very cartoonish – Pet Dragon Logo.  So she created a fantastic design for me, and I took the opportunity to update my website once again.

What a difference that logo makes!

I also started looking around at new design options for the site.  One key component was the ability to sell my music, and the (now discontinued) iWeb templates I had didn’t easily lend themselves to any kind of storefront.  I checked out a number of services that could provide that storefront ability.

There are some decent options out there, and if you want to keep your design costs low, they are definitely a good way to go.  Ultimately, though, they are all based on templates.  Templates anyone else can make use of.  Templates that are only available if I change my web host, which I’m not interested in doing.  Templates I could only customize with some back-end hacking and html coding and – well, honestly, I’m really not interested in learning any more about website design.

What I really want is a site that is mine and mine alone.  A site that’s unique.  Cue another call to Lisa, who immediately got started on the brand new Pet Dragon Music website.  She created a site for me that is entirely unique.  It’s also the perfect balance between professional and fun that I never achieved on my own.  It gives me everything I wanted, and best of all, it was designed by a professional web designer who actually knows that they are doing!  I don’t have to code any more!

So I cordially invite you to head over to my new and improved Pet Dragon Music website!  Take a look around, listen to the music samples, maybe even buy a copy of something that excites you.  (And keep an eye out for the dragon tail as well…)  And while you’re at it, maybe take a moment to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, or right here on my WordPress blog.  You’ll never miss an exciting moment again!