Saturday, January 17, 2009

Building a web site over time

An American tourist was visiting an English castle and admiring the superbly well cared for lawn.
Approaching the tour guide: "How can I get such a lawn to my mansion?"
Answers the tour guide: "First of all, you'll start four hundred years ago."

That's the answer I give to people asking an advice after Sax on the Web (SOTW) reached the first page (now #6 when using key word "saxophone") in Google search. You'll be advised to start twelve years ago. Ten years ago my good friend, guitarist and now my band-mate Robert Rasmus directed me to a book about building loyalty in WWW. The key was not providing only static web pages, one-directional information, but adding interactivity, getting visitors involved. Then Sax on the Web Forum was born to form a community for saxophonists to discuss topics of interest. The membership varies from beginners and "late bloomers" to more advanced players and even to top-notch professionals.

The SOTW Forum had several incarnations and the current platform has been in use since 2003. There are now over one million posts, 25,000 members from all over the world out of which 30% are considered active. (Some of the older posts have been archived and available separately.)

The forum gets 8000 visits per day whereas the "static" pages get more than 3000 daily visitors.

The Sax on the Web site looks like its membership which will set the tone and also provide the vast contents available for everyone on the WWW. Running the forum would not have been possible without volunteer administrators. Now I only want to single out Kim C. Pelletier who participated from the very beginning as a moderator and admin, and also designed logos and cartoons for SOTW. The above 10 year celebration logo is also from her pen.

I will be giving credit for all significant contributors later on.

The Sax on the Web site has many followers who benefit from the contents, but do not want to necessarily register as forum members. Now I added a Google friend connect application to the Front page. Now visitors can inform their friends about SOTW and possibly connect with other members.

Thanks for your support during all these years,
-Harri Rautiainen


Kim C Pelletier said...

Thanks Harri. I'm glad to be part of SOTW's sucess :)
This blog is a great idea too. I'm looking forward to read more articles - All the best & have fun at the jazz camp!

Harri Rautiainen said...


thanks for your note. You can see graphic images from your pen on this blog. Besides you have been around from very early on and now administering the forum.

I am grateful for your support and loyalty,


Bassic Sax said...

Hi Harri.

Yes, I remember when SOTW was a just in the germinating stage of its development. Fast forward just over 10 years and look how things have grown! You could use an entire team of full time grounds keepers to keep the lawns maintained. :)

Over the years I've met some really nice people because of your site. I've had some pretty great adventures as a direct result of being involved on your site... Hard to top will be flying to New Orleans to pick up the bass saxophone I bought from Paul Coats, and flying it home in its own seat... Now that's a great SOTW story. That was early days, in October 1999 to be precise.

Yes Harri, you've created a great resource. And you've had, and continue to have, very good people to help you manage and maintain SOTW.

As SOTW enters its second decade, I wish both you and it well. I know I continue to enjoy participating on it. I recently have made new connections with players who share my love of a particular brand of obscure German vintage horn. Without the tireless work that you and your volunteer staff have put in over the years, these type of connections would not have happened.

Thanks for all your hard work!

Warmest regards....