gets a redesign

In an effort to bring their site to meet the demands of the modern Internet user, Modern Drummer has updated their website with new features.  According to an article from

These recent developments represent an ongoing pledge to our readers and the drum industry,”explains Modern Drummer associate publisher Tracy Kearns. “Since Ron Spagnardi first began publishing Modern Drummer in 1977, we have been dedicated not just to covering the drumming community, but delivering this information in a variety of ways that serve the needs of players, students, teachers, dealers, manufacturers, and distributors. The digital age is here. Call it revolution or evolution, Modern Drummer continues to be on the leading edge.

Unfortunately there are a few blunders that MD is making.  The site redesign is simply terrible and looks woefully amateur.  Why would a company with one of the best designed magazines have such a sloppy, hacked together looking web presence?  It’s as if the art departments for the site and mag didn’t work together at all.  I feel that any company’s website should reflect the tone, attitude, and style of their physical counterpart, but the new is nowhere near the polish of the mag.  This is mind boggling to me.  With the new Web 2.0 design trend, why would MD stick to plain white backgrounds, text across the whole page, JavaScript rollovers, and chaotic, ill-placed banner ads?  From the MD image above, I can barely tell who’s website I’m on! Compare it to DRUM!’s online presence:

Clearly, DRUM! has the upper hand.

There is also report of an online edition version of their magazine.

MD’s Digital Edition, which launches in September 2008, will be available to all current and new subscribers of the magazine as well as a new class of “digital only”subscribers. A secure access code for the electronic version will be emailed to all registered subscribers at the same time the print version is shipped. This will provide increased value and functionality to both groups, because they will have simultaneous access to the print and electronic versions of the magazine from virtually anywhere in the world.

MD is late to the digital edition game and the competition is already releasing online versions of their mags.  Thing is, theirs is free, and MD’s is not.  This will not end well, and will only give their competition a leg up.  If there is one thing the Internet has taught us is that users will not pay for something they can find elsewhere for free.  I do like that as a subscriber I now have online access to the printed material, but for MD to stay with the game, they should REALLY look into offering archived editions online for free.  Do you wonder why all the major networks have begun offering their programming online for free?  How many people would actually pay money to see those shows online?  And lastly, I’m curious … how many of your archive DVDs have you sold, MD?

So, while I commend you, MD, for offering more content on your site as well as moving towards more digital content, the fact is the user experience is unbearable and the thought of paying for digital editions is unpalatable.  I believe you can step up your game and have a web presence as strong as your print presence.

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