A side project.
Unsung Sundays is something I started doing when I was in university: every Sunday, I would write a few album reviews and share them on Tumblr. It was the easiest way to share what I was listening to with a small group of friends (who were always asking).
The idea caught on, and the blog got a little traction, and soon I had been doing it for years and had amassed a catalogue of over 500 album reviews. But they were impossible to find — Tumblr isn’t great for SEO — and it wasn’t a great reading or browsing experience.
When I went on my honeymoon last year, I talked with my wife about spending some time making a website that would do my little e-zine justice. With her blessing, I spent the next few months making a website that was flexible enough to hold all the reviews — and new content, like lists and interviews.
A Design that Feels Musical
The new website is based around a single idea: music is a colourful, often emotional experience. The website is extremely colourful, with a flexible colour scheme that instantly and programmatically adapts to each new colour I throw at it.
Large, full-bleed images are meant to be immersive hooks wrapped in vibrant colours. Album art is given prominent display (and sometimes, the colour of the album art matches the colour of the page — which is magical when it happens).
Good, clear, effective design can make an organization seem much bigger than it is. Good design creates opportunities.
The overall reading experience was also important to me: I wanted people to enjoy reading the site. Special care was taken in selecting a typeface (I ended up using Whitney by Hoefler & Co., which is now one of my favourite faces of all time), and to the line length and padding. No matter what device you read the site on, you’ll have a phenomenal experience.
Since the beta launch in February and public launch in March, I’ve seen a 900% increase in month-over-month visits to the site. There have been acquisition talks and discussions about financial partnerships. It’s been an incredible journey, and again — it’s all been in a period of six months.
I think the ideas from the site have been fundamental to its success. Every week, I hear from multiple people who tell me Unsung has impacted on the way they discover music. The new website and branding has seen a several fold increase in engagement and also requests from musicians to be reviewed, featured, and interviewed.
Ultimately, I redesigned Unsung Sundays to look as professional as possible under the theory that a well-designed website would look more attractive and professional to musicians, publicists, and readers. Unsung is a small publication. Not many people write for it. Nobody is paid to do it. It’s entirely a labour of love.
What I learned is simple: good, clear, effective design can make an organization seem much bigger than it is. Good design creates opportunities.