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by coyote new media

Navigation is the key
to Anthony Mazella Website

I probably have the longest list of website bookmarks (or favorites as they are called) in Sedona as I take my websurfing seriously. Being in the biz, I can justify long hours of internet surfing in the name of research, and when I bookmark "My Favorites", it's usually because a website is either incredibly useful or incredibly cool.

This month I'd like to feature a musician's site, entitled "Anthony Mazzella Guitar Virtuoso" and discuss what I think makes this site cool and also a great example of how the web is a wonderful vehicle for art and sharing.

The site opens with an illustration of a guitar player with a simple 'enter' button, this is sometimes called a splash screen, and like TV or movies, is just a simple intro that provides some flavor and establishes the design and mood of the site. The next page which in essence is the true homepage is a great example of a simple and elegant navigation scheme. It also loads fast (an important feature) and the designer used something called slices to allow the somewhat large image to load in pieces.

Nothing real flashy or wild here. The viewer gets not only a very good

photo-illustration of the musician/guitarist whom the site is about, but also an immediate overview of the entire website and it's navigation structure via large clear links set beside the image. This not only gives the viewer their first choice of things to explore, but gives them an immediate idea of what the site offers and the choices available (see inset). The viewer can then easily start interacting within the site and also see that the site contains 3 types of information: music samples, written info, and photos. A great combination on the web.

Scrolling down, this page offers several quotes about the guitarist which are linked to the actual reviews and articles they came from. Again, simple and elegant is the key, and for those (like myself) who may not have actually been familiar with this musician, it gives credibility and strength to the site and it's message.

From here the site offers: a biography, concert dates, contact info, interviews, order CD's, sound files, and a photos gallery. Most page follows the initial theme of black background, with a smaller version of the initial photo-illustration of Mazella in the upper left corner, The black background creates great contrast on the web, and the simplicity of the layouts and light blue text make it very easy to take in and comprehend. On these pages the navigation links, once large on the opening page are now all located in a simple horizontal row at the bottom of each page, inviting the viewer to flow through each page and move along. The site also uses double spaced text lines which make the bluish text easy on the eyes.

Once at the 'sound files', the site offers viewers a choice based on their computer platform, either Quicktime audio files for Macintosh users, and MP3 files for Windows PC users (media players can be installed on the web for free). In either case the 60 second audio file samples load in a very reasonable amount of time (with a cable modem it took about 5 seconds, with a standard modem it takes about 20 seconds) and play back beautifully. In the samples the viewer gets a great sense of the guitarist's talents and the flavor of his work.

This web is obviously a great medium for musicians and music lovers alike, as it provides a fun and entertaining way to offer people samples, with the caveat being that one can then chose to support the artist's work with an online purchase if they like the music. On the web, audio files download fairly quickly and many sites are also offering streaming samples.

Another cool feature is that on the samples page, instead of just a simple grid of titles and links, the guitarist follows each title with a descriptive 'writings' that ponder the meaning of the song and related thoughts on life. This engages the viewer and I think really adds to the experience. It's free form nature makes it feel authentic and genuine.

The photo gallery once again continues with simple but effective layouts. In this case, the site designer used small 'thumbnail' images that load quickly and when clicked on, jump to popup windows of the larger versions based on the viewers choice. At the bottom of each selection of photos of the guitarist and his guitars, are "more galleries" with a simple numbering scheme to take viewers through 3 more galleries.

The entire experience of this site is very consistent and pleasing and a great example for musicians and artists looking to share their work and explore the sharing music and art through digital audio files via the Net. Now with this technology, Mazella and others like him can not only share more with their local fans, but reach out to audiences across the globe.

Sedona In-sites is a new feature written monthly by Jay Jacoby, creative director for coyote new media in Sedona. He can be reached at:

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