Finally, after many a tweets claiming, “we are working on it, it’s coming,” Galleywinter version 5.0 is here. This reincarnation has been years in the making; going back to before I joined the team in early 2017. When our editor and chief, Brad Beheler, handed me the task of reworking the site a year ago, the only direction was “it needs to look less 2007 and more 2019.” After giving it some thought, we quickly realized we needed more than a facelift, we needed to re-imagine the entire site.
Galleywinter has been around in one form or another for 20 years, but in order for it to go another 20 we needed some upgrades. WordPress and the web have changed quite a bit since founding father, Ryan “Tank” Hargrave, overhauled the site some years ago. Save a minimalist theme that anchored the content, almost all of the enhanced features of the site came from custom code that he had written. My hat is off to Tank. Digging through the site was like perusing a 12 gigabyte history book. I found directories full of old photos (likely taken pre-smartphone era), GreenFest fliers, Music Fest fliers, and a defunct forums database full of accounts from Texas music household names. It was a goldmine to be unearthed, nugget by nugget, and we’ll trot some of it out when it makes sense.
There are a few overarching themes driving the Galleywinter 5.0 upgrade.
Better access to content. The old layout was the traditional linear blogroll, with the latest post featured at the top of the page followed by two or three predecessors. Album reviews, Brad’s Corner, time relevant material, etc., all got mashed together into the single feed and quickly buried. The fact is we spend a bit of time writing stuff for this site and we’d like to give you ample time to read it. Our new site has more of a magazine style, where we can better organize our content and give it a longer shelf life. Finally, we think the new layout makes it easier for readers to go straight to a particular piece or just peruse posts by category or tag.
Better content variety. WordPress has come a long way over the years. In addition to the visual facelift, our new theme is a lot more friendly to the numerous plugins and widgets available on the platform. With this arsenal, we can embed more video, photo galleries, podcasts, playlists, and other custom assets without breaking the overall aesthetics of the site. Put simply, we’ll be able to switch things up quickly, keeping it fresh and interesting with more variety of content.
A more vibrant community. Galleywinter has always been more than just some folks writing words and taking pictures. It’s an extended family of artists and fans sharing good times and good music. While social media will be our primary outreach until the internet changes yet again, we wanted a place to foster discussions that are more meaningful and allow people to gather (or schedule a gathering in the real world). To make this happen we are going old school and the bringing the forums back!
An online store. Galleywinter has always been not-for-profit, but the fact is we do incur expenses keeping this site going. Over the years we’ve had many requests for merch – stickers, hats, shirts, etc. We’re hoping to get a small online store up in 2020, with Galleywinter stickers being the first bit of swag we offer. Again, we aren’t here to make a buck, just cover a portion of our expenses. If stuff sells and we go into the black, it will end up in artists’ pockets at a sanctioned Galleywinter event.
We hope y’all enjoy the website and look forward to your feedback! We’ve still got some tweaking to do, so if you have suggestions or find a problem, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.