Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A New Look

A coat of paint, and some other stuff too
I've been wanting to give Musical Hotspot a bit of a makeover for a while, and the time has finally come! I hope you like the new look. The old look was a stock-standard Blogger template, one that hadn't changed since the site first started. Thanks to Blogger's new template designer and a bit of playing, here's the result.

Aside from the new layout, there are a few things you might notice.

Navigation


The biggest change is that Musical Hotspot articles now appear in one of five sections, handily linked on the left-hand-side.

  • Performing covers off the bread-and-butter of impro musicianship, including underscoring techniques and specifics on games.
  • Songs provides guidance on song construction for both actors and musicians, including clips of songs to illustrate concepts.
  • Background has articles on getting started, as well as some general philosophies about music and impro and performance.
  • Tech goes in to detail about musical gear, sound setup, and patches or keyboard layouts you might find useful for impro.
  • Random covers off the oddball stuff - stories about impro and performance in general, some semi-improvised songs, and news about Musical Hotspot.

The old index page was pretty hard to navigate; these links will make it easier for you to find stuff, as well as stroll through old articles. If you're new to the site, or haven't poked around older articles, have a look and see what grabs you.

Widgets


There are some other useful things floating around the site.

The Search box lets you search through Musical Hotspot articles looking for particular content. It also searches through blogs and articles linked to by Musical Hotspot.

Blogs of Note lists the most recent articles for blogs by many of the talented actors/musicians/artists that I know.

If you're a Facebook user (and pretty much everyone is) (well, ok, not you Greg) you can Like an article right on the site, and it will appear in your news feed. Then your other improvising friends will see it, and read it too. And they'll like it. So they'll Like it. And their friends will see it. And so on, and so on, and eventually this site will be bigger than Google. That's right, friends. Bigger than Google.

Flexo!


The talented Anthony Massingham has a collection of Not So Impressive Entertainers that I quite like. One of them, Flexo, always grabbed me for some reason. Perhaps it was his nerdy keyboard-playing charm. He reminds me of an impro musician - he's hurtling to his doom, but still furiously playing his squeezebox. Anthony graciously allowed me to use Flexo on the site.

Anthony is no stranger to the impro and theatre scene in Brisbane, having designed promotional material for ImproMafia as well as several Brisbane Arts Theatre productions. (He's even played an on-stage role as the twin of his real-life brother David - a big deal for someone who doesn't improvise on stage regularly!) You can wear some of his excellent work if you like - visit his RedBubble shop and drop some cash on a t-shirt.

Fonty stuff


Those who know me will know I'm a Font Nerd. To try a break from the Verdanas and Trebuchets of the world, I'm experimenting with using TypeKit to provide header fonts. This is groovy stuff - the font is sent down the wire for use in text you specify using element or class names. It's still text, you can highlight it and search it and everything. OK, so this is a big deal for me, but most people aren't going to care. Fair enough :) Still, if you're a blogger and you're keen to use something different than the everyday, I recommend trying them out; it was ridiculously easy to get it up and running.

Enjoy

Hopefully the new layout and new tools make the site easier to navigate around. I'm always on the lookout for suggestions for the site - especially material you'd like to see. Leave a comment or drop me a line!

Illustration by Anthony Massingham

1 comment:

Girl Clumsy said...

Hey Kris - congrats on the new site design - looks very groovy.

Best of luck with adventures in getting bigger than Google. ;)

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