Sony site services local music well

Some of the biggest names in New Zealand music are signed with Sony Music New Zealand and one of the things its Web site does well is show these artists off to its customers.

Some of the biggest names in New Zealand music are signed with Sony Music New Zealand and one of the things its Web site does well is show these artists off to its customers. Local content is something local sites of international companies often only pay lip service to. But here you can click on links to Bic Runga, Stellar, Strawpeople, Dave Dobbyn, and yes, even New Zealand’s own Spice Girls, TrueBliss. (These pages are excellent with just the sort of information users will be after — discographies, audio/video, contests, biographies and news. I won’t go into a lot of detail because these pages really stand on their own, but I will say the Stellar site is great). Another thing this site does well is interact with its customers through a Subscribe page. You can fill in a form to be given updates about the sort of music you enjoy. And at last a form with a pop-up menu box that gives you the ability to make a multiple selection from a list (and doesn’t just tell you it does). However, it would be good to be told on this page which of the form fields are optional. Other pluses on this site include audio. You can listen to segments of a variety of songs — and, of course, this site wouldn’t be meeting its aims as a music site without this facility. Okay, so is there anything that doesn’t work? Afraid so, and it’s a reasonably basic one. The Artists page is missing a scroll bar. It’s most noticeable in Netscape where you can see names of bands are cut off. In Internet Explorer you can see more band names and it’s not quite so obvious, but I still suspect there are some names you can’t see (the alphabetical list only reaches the letter "T"). The lesson? Test your site on more than one browser and you’re more likely to pick up this sort of problem. The other minus of this site is the mis-named Contact page that actually brings up the FAQ [frequently asked questions]. A link to contacts is on that page — along with a link to legal information — but the heading of the page needs to be renamed to reflect what’s there. And a phone number would be good in addition to the snail mail and email address. Another recommendation I’d make — although it’s not a biggie — is to ensure that when a user clicks on a new link that it opens in a new window. This is especially useful if the user might go off in another direction all together and forget about your site. However, all the negatives about this site will no doubt be addressed soon if the impressive work on the artists’ pages by Sony Music New Zealand’s online creative developer — Jon-Paul Hansen — is anything to go by. The Sony New Zealand site was built from Sony Music in Australia and is hosted there. Hansen — who was not involved with the site’s design — says it’s due for an overhaul and it’s something he will get on to once he has finished his other projects (the individual artists’ sites). The site was created using GoLive CyberStudio. It’s updated using a Lotus Notes database. There are two replication processes: new data is entered in Auckland and that replicates with a database in Australia and that database then replicates with the Web server. Hansen — who is new to Lotus Notes — says there are definite advantages in terms of user-friendliness. "Anybody in the office who wants to enter a story in has got the ability of doing that through a normal database that they’re all familiar with, without having to worry about html or any sort of formatting." He finds the current format is a bit restrictive if he wants to do something a bit different, but hopes to address that in the upcoming overhaul. — Kirstin Mills

Sony Music New Zealand

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