Posted by Lynne Griffin
It took some time, but my new website launched this week! I invite you to take a look and please, tell me what you think.
A website is a personal thing. It's your image, your brand. I wanted to create an inviting space, where visitors could get a sense of who I am, what I do, and what I care about.
A website is a professional thing. It's your calling card, your brochure. In my case, finding the right tone for merging my identities--parenting author & speaker with novelist--required careful consideration. I didn't want a mish-mash of pages leaving my visitors scratching their heads.
I've learned a lot in the last few months about building a web site, one that reflects my individual personality, one that lets readers know what they can expect from me. I thought I'd share my top ten things to think about when creating or updating your website.
- Secure domain name(s): Your name and/or your book's title are especially important. Keep in mind your readers will google the most obvious thing about you. Even if you don't plan to host a site right now, secure the domain names, so you'll have them when you're ready.
- Establish a budget: You'll want to know at the outset what you can afford. A simple static site will cost less than one with all the bells and whistles. Ask yourself what you really need vs. what you'd like to have.
- Spend time visioning: Even using a designer, which I strongly recommend, you'll need to have a sense of the look and feel you're after. Only you really know the image you're trying to convey.
- Know what you want: Writing down what you want and don't want will get you started. For example, I built in a blog to my site so I could announce news. And I wanted a library of television and radio clips. It's easier for your designer to know in advance, the capability you'll need.
- Search for sites you like: It can help the designer a lot to know what you like about certain sites. I love Therese Fowler's site so much, I decided to work with her designer. Brian from Low Fat Designs built Amy's site too.
- Keep your eye on the future: Knowing what you want and need for your site today is important, but so too is the need to be forward thinking. Will you need an event calendar? Or a place to announce your wonderful blurbs? Be sure your designer factors in the ability for the site to grow as your career does.
- Ask for feedback before launch: Just like every writer needs a great editor, every site should be field tested. Ask a few savvy surfers to take a test drive.
- Learn some simple programming: My site is built on what's called a content management system, and because I know simple html, I can make all my additions & changes without relying on or paying an outside provider.
- Update the site on a regular basis: Sites that change and are added to, keep traffic up. Don't you love going to your favorite sites to see what's new?
- Be sure to capture statistics: You won't be able to fine-tune your site with readers in mind, if you don't know who's visiting. Get a stats package from your designer, and learn how to look for key pieces of info.