Every now and then a SlapStart assignment passes across my desk that totally hits home. Case in point: a few months ago, I had to set up a website for a musical project. For whatever reason, I chose to go through my hosting provider, which also provided Web development “tools.” Frustrated with MySpace, terrified of Facebook, and wildly unimpressed with Google’s web design tools, I figured, why not – how bad could it be?
Well, you know where this goes. It was pretty bad. The templates were corny, there weren’t any intuitive ways to upload content, and it was just plain difficult to translate an aesthetic vision into an appealing web page. This is important, of course, because at the end of the day, bands, painters, photographers – heck, any type of artist – naturally need a solid, compelling Web site. So when Sayvee entered my queue, a warm feeling of serendipity flooded over me.
Sayvee (pronounced “say-veee”) is the “easiest way for artists (bands, photographers, painters etc.) to create and edit a professional website with all the built-in tools you need to sort, sell, and share your creativity with the galaxy.” In other words, Sayvee is an website builder for artists, musicians, and photographers; a delectable media buffet where users can include blogs, mailing lists, videos, music players, customized .com addresses, slide shows, unique designs, and other features on their site.
The site immediately grabs your attention by plastering a video in front of your face, and you’re instinctively drawn to the five main navigational tabs: Free Trial, Features, Blog, Goodies, and Contact. The copy itself, meanwhile, is playful and hip (e.g. On the sign up page: “If you don’t like reading, feel free to watch our violent yet entertaining Terms video.” It’s the little things.) Inevitably, you’re tempted to partake in a Free Trial, which I gleefully partook in.
I signed up (my band is called, yes, “SlapStart” – kinda Afro-Caribbean slow jams) and began fiddling with the template, which included six tabs – About, Blog, Media, Events, Contact, Home – plus the ability to add more. The text boxes were drag and drop and very WYSIWYG (“What you see is what you get,” as we say in the industry.) On the top of the page, I could add components, pages, and naturally edit individual pages at a time. I clicked on the “Events” tab and, sure enough, was prompted to enter upcoming (and non-existent) gigs. To help me on my way, the page also had Tutorial videos at the top, plus a Dashboard, where you can manage everything in a central location.
The coolest part of the toolset, however, is Sayvee’s ability to enable users to put their distinctive artistic stamp on the site. Too often, users are hamstrung by rigid templates; meanwhile, on the other side of the spectrum, “blank slate” sites enable some artistic flexibility, yet simply take too long to create. Savyee finds a happy medium, where usability and expression overlap. For example, check out Colors and Tone’s site, created using Savyee, below:
I specifically call your attention to the graphic at the top of the page. Clearly this was created by the artist themselves, yet it seamless blends in with the templatized navigation bar below, which, you may note, eerily resembles the six tabs I mentioned above. (Note: Colors and Tone are available for weddings, bar mitzvahs, and birthday parties.) Ultimately, my experience brought to mind two specific navigational comments:
- In the Dashboard, I saw that “Sayvee owes me: $0.00,” implying, naturally, that part of Savyee’s model involves paying users. This is a very cool concept, and something I’d suggest they tease out more in their copy.
- In addition, I liked how I could manage my page from a dedicated url (in this instance, http://slapstart.sayvee.com/.) I’d suggest putting the “Log In” button in the upper-right corner of the site.
Never one to shy away from elephant(s) in the room, as someone who has been around the band-web-design-block a few times, it’s also worth noting how Sayvee compares to the other options out there – options I alluded to in my opening, breathless diatribe. MySpace, for starters. Having trudged in the bowels of MySpace for musical endeavors, it has value, but as anyone can tell you, it isn’t pretty. Site templates range from the confusing to the grotesque, and it’s difficult to effectively manage the tons of media you’re going to need as a plugged-in band. It’s just not tasteful. Facebook isn’t even worth mentioning really; the “Fans of” pages are nice, again, but it’s not structured for bands, and likely never will be. Sayvee elegantly fills this void, because more than just providing artists with Web hosting of MP3s, video, and other content, it provides the tools to create a site that’s actually aesthetically appealing.
Savyee has a slew of artists (make sure to check out the other template themes too) who successfully use the toolkit. Coupled with its very affordable pricing structure, Sayvee is a great website builder for bands, artists, and photographers who want to create a hassle-free, dynamic, content-rich site. After all, you’re artists: paint a painting, sing a song, dance a dance. But for God sakes, don’t waste your precious energy stressing out over a Web site. Life’s too short, and it’s bad for the art.