Monday, March 12, 2012

Constructing your Own Site

One of the topics I meant to touch on in my last posts was what you need to do to make your own web site.  Making a web site for an author is important because it lets you probably information to readers about your work.  This is very important for marketing your stories.  You can also use the site to let readers know more about yourself and to promote all the way to contact/follow you.

In general, you need the following items when creating a web site:

Content (what each page will talk about)
Navigation (what will you call each link; will you use menus)
Design (what will each page look like)

Let's start with navigation first.  You need some links and you'll need text for these links.  These are the categories of information you will provide in your site.  You shouldn't have too much.  Nine or less is good.  Five is even better.  If you find you need more, you might need to group a few together can provide some menus in your navigation.  That makes it much more difficult; providing menus means including a script of some kind.  Such scripts can be found on sites like Dynamic Drive.  But if you aren't really a coder, try to keep it simple and avoid the need for menus.

Note:  I am a coder and I will eliminated the use of menus in my site.  A word to the wise.

Once you have the categories for your site, you can probably write or collect the information you need for each page.  We are writers after all.  You might need to spin the information so it has a more marketing twist (I sort of suck at that and had to rewrite some of my content several times; I'm still not happy with it).

Lastly, the design.  There are two parts to this:  one is fitting your content into the pages.  That's not so hard.  The second is determine what your site will look like.  Obviously, you need design skills to do this and knowledge of HTML and CSS so most authors will need help with this.  There are templates you can use which are predesigned.  You can find them on the web.  (I'm assuming here you already have a hosting location; if you don't or don't know what that means, read on pilgrim).

Another option is to sign up with a site that simplifies the whole process.  Such sites host your site (give you a place to store your site on the Internet) and provide simplified templates for you to use.  The tradeoff here is you lose much of the power of the coding the pages directly.  But since you probably can't do that (or you'd have used a design template) that's not a big loss.  I've seen several author sites with Wix, web site builder.  And while I'm sure the authors who made them are happy with their sites, I wouldn't be because the sites aren't especially interesting, at least from a design perspective.  One might say the same thing about my site but I'm working on that.

One last thought:  Obviously this post is just a high-level look at making your own web site.  If you want to go deeper, you'll need to study HTML and CSS if you don't know these already, and web design.  You might want to hire a designer (I know a really good one, so ask if you want her services), or you might decide to do want I did initially, make your blog your web site.  Whatever you do, good luck with it and make it the best site possible.  Your readers deserve nothing less.

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