Friday, March 9, 2012

Building a Web Site

About two weeks ago, I blogged about Amazon's review policy.  How they do not let authors add reviews from other sources so that all the reviews of a book are in once place.  To help deal with that, I decided it was time to rethink my web site and really build it out.

Up to now, I've been using a single web page I created for Aure the Topaz and this site (my blog) in a joint effort to get out my information and my message.  I decided to move away from that and build a web site to handle everything, except this blog.  Instead, I settled on using the RSS feed from the blog to display the latest five entries on the home page.

My main goal with the site was to provide a location where I could collect all my reviews.  I realize this is not ideal but at least it will give me and my readers an alternative to Amazon's one-sided reporting.  After all, Amazon is not the other book store and I receive comments from folks who read the book independently of Amazon.  So if you want the full picture, you'll have to go my web site.

Determining the content was easy.  I had already done most of that work.  I'd need a page about me, a home page, a page for books, a page for my short stories, and a page for my poems so you can see all the kinds of things I write.  I also decided to include information about the world in which my fantasy stories are set.  This include a map, some background, and a glossary.

Pulling the site together was harder.  I think this is where most writers (and most people in general) have problems.  They don't know the technology that makes a web site work and they don't have the patience or time to learn it.  Fortunately for me, I ran a small web site consulting service in a past life.  So the technology and the coding of the pages was not the issue.  The issue I faced was the need for some scripts.

To start, I realized that I needed a script for handling the comments I planned to post.  I also found I needed a script to open flyout menus in the navigation I planned to use.  I ultimately backed out of that when my design changed.  And I needed a script for handling the blog RSS feed.

As it turns out finding these scripts on the web and implementing that was straightforward enough, but as the site came together, it didn't look good.  Especially the home page.  It was flat and didn't grab me.  So I rethought it and looked for author web site template that might be available.

These templates gave a few ideas on the design to use.  I wanted an image of me (so you know what I look like) and my name had to go in the banner.  The navigation I decided could be just a line of links and the home page should show the book and stories available along with the blog feed.

Suddenly I realized the point of the site wasn't to give you information about me so much it was to sell my work.  Suddenly cover images began to appear on the home page and the site came together.

I'm still tweaking it a little and I'm not happy with the color scheme but these are minor points.  It is up and working at  Take a look and let me know what you think.

No comments: