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January, 2006

"Our Second Anniversary"

by Webmaster

The first column I wrote (January, 2004, "Faith") started as follows:

It's 3:30 a.m. and I'm writing this so I can finish this web site and get it up and running by 1/1/04, the date I promised.

I'm not writing this at the last possible second. Actually, it's early in December.

But, my goal to have a revised version of AcousticByLines up by the first of the year is the same as it was then.

These are the changes I've made to the site:

  • Appearance. I wanted the site to have a less "cartoon" appearance and, as one member put it, a more "acoustic" look. So, I changed
    • the color scheme and format of the page
    • the location and appearance of the navigation "buttons" (Note: I kept the old navigation cartoons for illustrations on the appropriate pages.)
    • the design of the navigation "buttons"
    • the heading and logo
    • added more photos
    • added movement: scrolling photos and text
  • Functionality. The old way of allow e-mails started to generate spam and the "temporary" fix was awkward to non-functional. Also, once in a while I get e-mails from folks who had trouble clicking on the pictures to go to the various pages. So, I changed
    • the e-mail link to a form-based e-mail
    • the pictures to word-based links in boxes that look like buttons
    • the words used in the links to be clearer
    • removed the mouse-over explanations
    • fixed typos as I found them
  • Search Engine Placement. The site does very well in search engines, but it could do better. So, I changed
    • the names of the folders that organize the pages
    • the names of some of the pages
    • the comments, tags and some text inside the pages
    • added more links from page to page
    • and added redirects from the old pages to the new pages
  • Maintainability. I spend a lot of time fixing and maintaining the freshness of the site. So, I changed
    • the common parts of each page into a style sheet and library modules
    • the navigation from one page to another so that it's consistent from page to page
    • the file structure into folders that need to be refreshed and those that don't
    • event lists for the performers into separate pages (this will be important for changes that are planned but not yet implemented)
    • lists of members by genre into separate pages
  • New Features. I added

Some of the members and visitors have given me wonderful ideas that I've been able to implement and some that I plan to implement in the future. I thank them so much. Thanks to Mark Mortensen who provided the guitar tuners that are used in the navigation buttons. And big thanks to Bob Dolan, an occassional contributor to the COLUMNS! He was remarkable: he provided me with the scripts to do form-based e-mail that I was able to tailor for this site.

Once again, I want to thank all of the AcousticByLines members for their faith in me and in the site. After only two years, we're getting almost 5,000 hits per month. And, our membership is up 9.4%.

Venues are getting additional attendance from folks who get their information from AcousticByLines. Performers have gotten additional work from opportunities that came through this site. Businesses can advertise to target markets. I hope their business improves due to their membership here, but I don't think any of us are tracking that.

More changes are planned, and I'm still open to suggestions from members and visitors to the site. Want to see something that's not here? Found a problem that I need to fix? Contact Webmaster.

As I wrote in my first column: "Thanks for visiting AcousticByLines. Thanks for your patience with us as we grow."

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