EMI Music Canada changes tune with Web redesign

EMI Music Canada’s Web sites weren’t exactly a hit factory prior to their redesign courtesy of Macromedia Inc. tools.

Director of new media Jeff Coleman was hired on about a year and half ago to revamp EMIMusic.ca, VirginMusic.ca, CapitolMusic.ca and the company’s newsletter engine. “”My last three predecessors had been unable to redesign the sites. My job was to take them to the next level,”” he says.

“”It looked ugly. To see an old design is like looking at something from the really early 90s. It was effective, but it was really a one-page site. Eight-five percent of the traffic went to this one page and didn’t explore anything else, so we were losing a huge amount of traffic,”” he says.

Coleman employed Macromedia’s Studio MX, working with a variety of backend platforms like Microsoft’s VisualStudio.Net and SQL Server. Since the sites’ relaunch late last year, traffic has quadrupled, he says. Next week, a jukebox will be added to stream music content from some of the label’s artists.

“”It took us about a year to get a really good idea of what everybody was looking for,”” he says. “”The result was something that was sexy in the case of Virgin, something that was more user-friendly in the case of Capitol.””

The sites’ search engines, for example, were updated and put front and centre on the sites to make them easier to find. They’ll soon include new search criteria like Universal Product Codes (UPC) and artist tour dates.

Studio MX is Macromedia’s bundled package of its Web creation and management tools. Issuing the products in a suite has helped the company move up-market, says executive vice-president of marketing Al Ramadan. Macromedia tools were traditionally adopted by small businesses “”but with Studio, I think what we’re seeing is companies in the mid-market and enterprises starting to adopt this at a much higher rate than they were before. I think that’s just the convenience of having the product all together and bundled,”” he says.

Coleman uses Studio MX as a conduit to pull information from a central database and post it online. Moving information to the company’s extranet is that much smoother. “”HMV in some cases was getting information about our products before we were. One of the first things I looked at was how can we get the content faster?”” he says. “”You could do it with Java, but I’m not sure you’d want to. There really was no tool.””

He also uses Macromedia Dreamweaver templates to design EMI’s newsletters, which have about 30,000 subscribers. A deliberate omission, however, was ColdFusion. “”While I’m attracted to (Macromedia’s) middleware, it’s not something that we have internally . . . nor is it something I’m willing to gamble on,”” Coleman explains. “”Far be it for me . . . to adopt a product simply because somebody tells me I can save a few lines of code.””

Studio MX is compatible with Internet Explorer, Netscape, Opera and Safari.

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