MetalBard is a personal pet project of mine. I’ve gone to about a hundred different metal concerts of every stripe, often several in one week, and I always had to check multiple sources to figure out when a show was coming up, who was playing, and where. Since I was a teenager, spending a night out at a DC-area metal show was one of my most cathartic escapes and one of the few places I felt I belonged, so in a way MetalBard is my way of giving back to that community.
In the world of DMV (DC, Maryland, and Virginia) metal shows, one site reigns supreme: DC Heavy Metal. Other music scenes will use services like Songkick, but metal shows have a tendency to be very local and very DIY. DC Heavy Metal is the answer to that, run by a single, very hardworking member of the DC metal community, it’s the place to go to see which shows are coming up. So why would I want to encroach on that or attempt to copy it? Well, it's a simple blog and doesn’t have the best responsive design or mobile UX, and those are my areas of expertise. So let's take a look at the steps I took to make MetalBard an app that is perfectly tuned to the needs of its audience.
The objective of MetalBard is to answer a few basic questions: When is the next metal show in the area? Where is it? Who is playing and who the hell is that? Again, a lot of music fans will take these questions in the opposite order, starting with wanting to see a band they like (i.e., “Oh, La Dispute is playing at Ottobar! Let’s get tickets and directions.”). Metal heads will go to a show just to see what's new and hang out, and hey, if it sounds awful there’s always a bar.
This is the part of the workflow that DC Heavy Metal nails. Upcoming shows are posted as they’re announced, displayed in order from soonest to latest, and removed promptly the day after the show. It has one issue: it’s updated manually each day so things can slip through the cracks and the updating process (it seems) is extremely cumbersome. We’ve made the process of adding shows, bands, and venues much easier and more sustainable, but otherwise we can’t improve on perfection.
The next thing our metalhead needs to know is where the show will be taking place. The DMV area is pretty massive and there are a lot of music venues scattered all over, but they are concentrated in DC and Baltimore. The user can filter upcoming shows by state or city to make sure they’re not seeing results that are outside the area they would want to drive to. Once they have chosen a show to look into, they’ll be presented with all the important details: the venue’s address and a convenient Maps link.