My previous website was my own Frankenstein creation. And much like the monster, it was large, unwieldy, and unpleasant to look at.
I liked the content, but the presentation was lacking. I used html, which has since been replaced by better design languages. My site had different looks on different browsers, some better than others. I had a lot of unneeded, sloppy code that caused errors.
So I hired a designer to drag me into the 21st century.
My take on websites may be a bit peculiar. I don't like busy-looking web pages, or graphic-intensive sites that have Flash intros--I always skip the intro, and get impatient when a site takes a while to load.
I wanted something simple, easy to navigate, that I could maintain and update myself. I also wanted to remove some obsolete text content and add pictures and videos and a few other bells and whistles.
What I've lost:
- My writing tips pages, which were redundant because the tips are now collected in my Newbie's Guide to Publishing e-book.
- Free stories, which were redundant because they've been collected in my 55 Proof e-book.
- Some reviews and old news.
- Three pages of pictures.
- A simple, easy to navigate page.
- Three times as many pictures, using www.slide.com.
- A guestbook.
- Several new videos and movies.
- A new store.
- A site for my pen name, Jack Kilborn.
- A message board, with chat.
When you're looking to redo (or create) a website, here are some things to keep in mind.
- Understand what your site it for. It isn't a 24 hour advertisement. It's more like a 24 hour hotel, where people can visit and have a pleasant stay. Websites are all about information and entertainment, not commercials.
- Decide what you want. Do this by looking at other websites and dissecting the reasons you like them (or don't like them.) What makes a site appealing? What makes it sticky? What makes you come back time and again?
- Set a price. Websites can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Figure out what pages you need and what you want on them, and a designer should be able to give you an estimate.
- Find a designer. I used Jack Passarella, at www.authorpromo.com. Jack happens to be an author, so he has a good take on what an author website should do. I liked his style, and I enjoyed working with him. It took several weeks for him to fit me into his queue (good designers usually have a waiting list), but once he did he completed the site in just a few days. He has an easy-going yet professional manner and is reasonably priced.
- Learn how to do some things for yourself. Having a working knowledge of domains, ftp, html, css, and php can only help you as an author. Being able to fix, tweak, and update your own site saves a ton of money, and is often quicker than working with a webmaster.
Let me know what you think...