Friday, 28 September 2007

Record shops - research

There's a whole load of websites out there for local record stores. Most are a bit rubbish, to be frank and harsh, in terms of what I am aspiring to achieve. Some are so bad they don't even provide contact details, missing a trick and defeating one of the points of having a website. Some are very good for local independent store websites, however. I hope to learn about good design by learning from the good - and the bad.

Other Music

This store, no larger than Probe, is based in New York. Though the orange and blue colour scheme might be questionable, the online shop service seems slick, with easily searchable collections of LPs. The database table doesn't format very well in IE, though - borders are too apparent. It also has a merchandising page, something I could perhaps take into account when designing the new Probe website. They do stock T-shirts and gig photographs by Mark McNulty. Also, even if I don't provide an online shop page the merchandise can still be advertised.

The Other Music site also has a 'rarities' section which links to a selection of LPs on eBay. These have been provided by the shop themselves. Overall the site is easily navigable and suitable for its purpose. There are also some good extras on there like info on buying tickets for upcoming gigs and FAQs.

Rough Trade Records

This site is more like the aesthetic I am trying to achieve, at least in a small way. The portal page, which links to separate sites for the actual shop and an online retail one, is very similar to the Other Music one - maybe there is some sort of standard here.

I will first look at the one for the shop. The black, white and pink colour scheme is more print fanzine-ish and there is an appealing photograph in the background of the shop exterior. The dark night shot with lights goes well with the black colour scheme.

There is also the added feature of buying mp3s. This has its own website with a slightly different colour scheme and layout. Photos are black and white and the side-on rack of vinyls is a prominent feature. I think this is really cool, and the bits of grey background for less important info (such as the small print) works.

This site could prove to be a big influence on my site design for Probe.

Stormy Records

This is another independent record store, this time based in Michigan, USA. The major gripe I have with this is the maaaassssive list of records on the front page. Agh, at least they could have split it up instead of a long database splurge. Apart from this the site is not overly repulsive, the light blue and white background is acceptable.

There is also a prominent link to the MySpace page which Probe might benefit from. It would seem record shops have a rung on the ladder with the social networking sites which might contribute to helping save record shops from dying out any time soon. I could play on this a bit more with the Probe site - maybe extract comments from the page or even reskin it in Photoshop or something.

There is an individual page for in-store events but right now there is nothing there. Maybe this is a bit of a wasted page when nothing is happening and they could have merged it with a 'past gigs' feature including photos etc.

Grand Harmonium Records

I have cheated a bit with this - it isn't actually a site for a record store, rather a record company. I have included this as I think the deisgn is fairly effective - a mahogony effect old style radio is dominant and its knobs provide the link buttons, which is novel.

A bit I don't like though - the blog style is OK but I'm not sure about it. This seems popular with some of these website with new entries for each day/month whatever so people can see the latest records in stock. Maybe a site which has functions for MySpace style comments and blog style entries will be easily updatable and thus successful.

Sweet Memories

Finally for today, this site with a nice name but a slightly cheesy logo. Has a bit of a retro feel, at least in parts, with its link farm type pages and rubbish animated gifs. Is easy to navigate, though.

Actually, I have decided I don't like this one.

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