Who are Album Art Exchange?
Album Art Exchange is a website that allows users to upload images they have produced by scanning album artwork at high resolutions, whilst making amendments such as tweaking colours and removing any imperfections from the scanning process.
As well as uploading your own images, Album Art Exchange allows users to rate and comment on the artwork uploaded, and most importantly, users are able to download any images they’d like to use.
Most users add these images to their music of choice, downloading album artwork to place on one of their albums stored within their chosen device. For example, if a user downloads a song from an unknown source, it most likely won’t have a image attached to it as it is hard for the system to recognise - Apple for instance place a music note instead of an album cover when the music has not been purchased directly from iTunes. Therefore, users download the cover of their choice and upload it to their downloaded playlist within their phone, tablet or desktop, allowing them to have a the thumbnails they desire, transforming their phone into a high quality music artwork collection.
Dedicated to collecting and sharing meticulously scanned and edited album cover art, for those of us who are ridiculously obsessive about such things.
Ballyhoo are frequent users of Album Art Exchange and got in touch once they noticed the website was broken midway through a rebuild. The company had a negative experience with their previous freelancer and wanted to work with a reputable team who would cater to their needs.
The website embodies more than 405,000 high quality images, with a large amount uploaded daily, therefore, we had a lot of data to contend with. As well as the mass amount of data, it was not stored in an efficient or logical format - there were a lot of imperfections due to the neglect of the previous developer. As a result, the data required a large-scale migration to a more efficient and structured format, making it one of our most challenging projects to date.
When designing the website, our main aim was to keep the look and feel of the website as simple and clean as possible, making it easy to use and allowing us to let the artwork speak for itself. To achieve this, we decided to keep only the essential functionality visible at all times, with the additional functions and information only being visible when needed.
This process so far is currently phase 1 of a multi-stage project. The website includes a popular forum and blog which we are also aiming to bring under our wing and improve like we have with the rest of the website.
Album Art Exchange has a mass following of loyal users (over 32,000 at the time of writing), so has been built to handle significant levels of traffic - the site usually experiences tens of thousands of pageviews each day.
As competitors crawled and stole many pieces of artwork, including the rare album covers, security became a great concern for Album Art Exchange. However, although we needed to up security, we did not want it to affect genuine user experience for those who legitimately wanted to view and download artwork.
We achieved this successfully by developing a sophisticated system which monitors access to all images, showing a watermarked version if the user isn’t logged in, or if we suspect they are actually an automated script. This is effective as it allows real users to bypass this by proving they are a real human, whilst also improving the security of the entire website.
As well as implementing a sophisticated security system, we also incorporated a dual theme option for users to switch between a dark and light colour scheme, allowing them to view the artwork in its best setting - a dark image will be easier to see on a lighter background, and vice versa.
In order to not exceed budget, we did not make the website responsive. This was an acceptable compromise as over 90% of visitors accessing the website were on desktop devices. Given the nature of this website, this was to be expected.
We also implemented an autocomplete function within the search in order to make it as easy as possible for users to find what they’re looking for, which is essential for such a huge database. As well as this, we also have a unique, interesting Wikipedia integration which pulls album and artist information alongside each album displayed.
In terms of monetisation, we’ve incorporated an integration for Amazon, which will show the related albums to buy when the user is searching for a specific album cover. If the user is to click through to Amazon from here and then make a purchase, Album Art Exchange will earn commission on the sale.
Album Art Exchange allows users to download album artwork to use as they wish, most users download album covers to use on their own devices, enhancing the quality of their own personal music collection.
As there are many different album covers displayed, ranging from bright vibrant colours, to darker, more monochrome themes, we created the option for users to change the look of the website from dark to light and vice versa. This will allow users to view the artwork in its best format, allowing the images to take centre stage.
In order to improve security throughout the site, we implemented a watermark feature to help keep automated scripts and competitors from stealing artwork. Users will only be able to see the full images without watermarks if they are logged in, essentially proving they are human, meaning it is fine for them to download the artwork and use it as they wish.
As Album Art Exchange provide a free service, we decided to implement an Amazon Integration to help generate an income. The website will suggest albums related to the artwork on display, allowing them to quickly make a purchase and earn Album Art commission.
How Can We Help?
If you are in need of a new website, a revamp for your existing website, development to work responsively or anything related to websites and the internet in general then feel free to get in touch. Any member of the Ballyhoo team will be happy to help and can be contacted by telephone on 0121 222 5780, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via the contact form on our contact page.