One thing that I’m often asked is how I decided to build my website and what tips I can offer to someone who has to either create a new site or update one. So today’s Tuesday Tip is Part 1 of a series of articles on how to build an effective website! I hope you find it helpful.
Before you even go with a programmer or other web professional, the first thing to do is to consider how you want your site to look. A site should reflect what you do as a writer (or what you plan to do in the near future). If you’re writing paranormals, your readers and other industry professionals may expect a look that’s quite different from what they expect to see at a site for someone who writes romantic comedy.
So, visit sites for writers in your genre and see what they are doing in terms of color, graphics, etc. Make a list of your favorite sites to send to whoever is programming your site so they can have a reference point for where to begin. If there are certain images that you like, save the links to where they are on the web or visit one of the stock photo places to find images of interest (istockphoto.com and fotolia.com are two good ones).
Decide whether you want any animated features on the site, like those flash intros which are the opening pages or the headers at sites (you can check www.caridad.com or www.thecallingvampirenovels.com to see what I mean by a flash header).
Also make a note of the names of the designers on the sites you like the most. You may wish to approach them to design your site. Prices may vary from a low of $150 or so to tens-of-thousands of dollars. That range will depend on whether the programmer is creating animated intros for you or whether they are creating custom fonts and graphics.
Finally, what kinds of pages should you have on your site? A nice opening page where you tell people a little bit about yourself and what’s happening with you. A bio page for sure. Contact page where you have the information on how people can reach you. A list of either your published books or projects you have in the works. Those are pretty much the basics, but think for the future so that however the site is designed, it will be possible for someone to easily expand it.
Will you be blogging in the future? Have a Myspace or Facebook page? Add an Amazon store or calendar? Make sure to let the programmer know that you have these ideas in mind for the future and it will help them decide how to code the website.
One thing to know is that having all this information on hand is one way to keep down website programming costs and get a site up and running in a reasonable amount of time.
Also – you may wish to have your designer do a banner or button that you can upload to other sites and use for web advertising. This is generally easy to do and shouldn’t cost much more. In addition, if you’re going to do a Myspace page, try to use the same design if possible. You’re building your brand with this website and it’s good to reinforce that brand at every web presence you have if it’s possible.
Stay tuned for next Tuesday’s Tip – Types of sites and how to get them up and running!