Do I Need A Web Site?
Yes, you do. Having your own Web site puts you on a level playing field with every other business with a Web site. You have the potential to put your book in front of millions of readers. Every new movie has its own Web site with the name of the movie. Advertising is costly; Web sites are inexpensive by comparison. You can buy a domain name that includes your book title and direct traffic to your site where you will make the most money from each book sale. Small, well-placed ads can attract buyers to your Web site. If local bookstores carry your book you should also list them with their phone numbers.
My book title,YOU HAVE ENOUGH FAITH, became the domain name readers can use to order the book on my Website: www.youhaveenoughfaith.com. You can purchase a domain name from www.godaddy.com (recommended), for just over $10 per year. If the domain name is already taken, you can change your title slightly, then take your time and keep entering domain names until you get the one you want.
Once you have secured your name, you may need help building the actual site.
If your resources are limited, Vision Resources Network is a great source for a Web site. For only $300, they will build you a 5-10 page site. In the process they will teach you how to create new pages and maintain your site using free software they provide. Then, for only $100 per year, they will host your Site on major servers and provide you with unlimited bandwidth. No more paying someone $30 an hour to make changes and wait until they get around to it days or weeks later.
You become your own Webmaster and can add pages or make changes any time you want at no extra charge. I can make changes on any page in a matter of two or three minutes. A whole new page might take me 10-30 minutes depending on the amount of content. I built and now maintain this Website with the expert tutoring of Warren Drake at Vision Resources Network.
Remember, you don’t need a massive Web site to sell one book. Four or five pages should do. Make sure it has a page for book purchases (Shopping Cart). Use one page to showcase book details and why you wrote it. A CONTACT US page and an ABOUT US page should be part of your site, all undergirded by a simple, attractive and informative HOME PAGE.
If you pay someone to design your site, it is still imperative that you own the domain name. Do not let a designer buy it for you. Why? What if you and your Web designer have a parting of the ways? If someone else owns it, you may not be able to use it for your new Web site. If you own it, it goes with you. If you have a falling out with your current Web designer, he/she may charge you an arm and a leg just to transfer the domain name to you.
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*You want your Website to attract and keep visitors so they will buy your products, or whatever services you are offering.
There are some simple Web design rules to follow.
1. It should be easy to read. Use dark fonts and light backgrounds. Black print on a white background works best. Remember, people come to a Website to get information or buy something, not to be impressed with color schemes. A nice color scheme is important, but should make visitors comfortable, not put them into a psychedelic trance.
Reading Website pages with white (or light) print against a black (or dark) background slows readers down and takes up to 30% longer to read. I personally run from sites like that (and so do most serious surfers). If you use light print on dark backgrounds, do so sparingly. It's a nice contrast as long as you don't overdo it.
2. It should be easy to navigate. Put a menu on every page and also a separate link to get back to the home page. Don't use a splash page (a page with no meaningful information on it that simply "welcomes" visitors to the site, along with an "Enter Site" link). While you are at it, don't have jumping frogs, blinking lights, moving pop-ups or words. Okay, sometimes jumping frogs, blinking lights or burning fonts might be useful to get a reader's attention, but I would use them very, very sparingly. They tend to irritate visitors.
3. Don't force your visitors to listen to music or video they can't turn off. Personally, I wouldn't have any music or audio at all. Streaming video is fine if it is necessary for informational instruction or live sessions visitors come intentionally to view. Music or video I can't turn off drives me up a wall. Keep it simple and quiet! Web designers think things like flash pages, moving creatures and cute sounds are cool; Web surfers don't.
4. You have less than three seconds to get their attention. Tell your visitors quickly and simply what your site is about. Surfers are skimmers. They won't read every word; they will look for bullet points. Give them what they want. If they can't find what they are looking for quickly and easily, they won't stay. Again, you have less than three seconds to get their attention. Give them a clean, simple home page that tells them what your site is about. Put your contact information at the top or (preferably) at the bottom of every page. A visitor may want to call or email you on impulse if your site clicks with them. Look at the bottom of any page on this site. You will find all our contact info including a clickable email link.
5. Avoid the use of flash pages. Why? Several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that sites that are all flash pages are still ignored by many search engines. Your wonderful, cutting-edge, all flash Website will be virtually invisible. Flash sites are also inaccessible to mobile or iPhones (unless the site has duplicate pages in text only). Currently, 15-30% of surfers use and/or do online business on their phones. Currently, SEO experts recommend that flash pages be duplicated in HTML so search engines can detect and read them. Flash pages still take longer to download and an impatient surfing public is quicker than ever to leave any Websites that try their patience. Google recommends using Flash for decorative purposes only and using HTML for content and navigation. According to Google, this makes any site more crawler-friendly. You can read Google's article here.
For a current assessment of flash Websites read an article by Howard Steele. While flash has its place and can make a Website attractive, Search Engine Optimization experts suggest using it sparingly
Read more about Web design pet peeves.
MTV.com tried changing to all flash and in nine months switched back to HTML (after numerous complaints).
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You can find tons of information about what makes a good Web site. Below are some good places to find basic rules about good Web design. Knock yourself out.
http://www.smallboxsoftware.com/blog/post45.php (absolute must-read for anyone building a Website)
♦ Just for fun, see what you DO NOT want your Website to look like: websitesthatsuck.com.
♦ If you already have a Web site, check out your optimization (how your site rates).
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♦ Don't forget to visit our Author Resource Links for a lot more information about publishing.
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Updated March 26, 2014