Planning your site

Getting started:

You're ready for a web site. You've just gotten a contract from a publisher, your first book will soon be published, or you're searching for a publisher and want to show you're serious about building a career as an author.

Or you're a small business, and people ask for your web site URL when they ask for your business card. How do you start?

First, you have to make a couple of decisions. Are you going to do it yourself, or are you going to hire someone to do it for you? If you plan to hire someone, I hope you're considering me. Even if you're not, though, read on for some information you'll need no matter what you decide to do.

If you decide to try your hand at creating your own site, you can find the information you need to start working on your site on my Resources page.

Either way, though, there are a few things you need to think about. You'll need to have at least an idea of what you want your site to look like.

Comments? Contact me here.

Ten things to keep in mind when designing your Web site

1. Your Web site is a marketing tool.

2. You have very little time and very little space to capture a viewer's attention, so you have to make it count.

3. Your Web site needs a hook, just as a book does.

4. Graphics are fun, but they take up space and can draw attention away from your message.

5. Your Web site is how potential customers get to know you.

6. You need to make sure you do the things that will help potential customers find your site.

7. You need to engage the viewer.

8. Most of the principles of good design are true for Web design.

9. It's not easy to design a site that works across all platforms!

10. It's YOUR site.

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Ten things your visitors MIGHT NOT thank you for:

1. Loading your site down with graphics and nesting your tables eighteen levels deep so the viewer has time to get that cup of coffee they've been wanting while it loads.

2. Making sure that when it does load, your site has so many pretty pictures, your visitor won't want to bother reading the text. Then again, who needs text anyway?

3. Assuming the viewer wants a multimedia experience, including music, lots of animated gifs and every other novelty you can find. They'll not only draw the attention of the people in the surrounding cubicles at work or wake the people sleeping in the next room, and slow down load times, they'll keep your viewers so occupied installing plug-ins and media players, they'll be sure to describe your site to others as "an interesting experience." They won't be coming back for more, however.

4. Offering the viewer a challenge by using light text on a light background, dark text on a dark background, or any text on a busy background. The viewer's eyes will get some much-needed exercise as she struggles to read your wonderful words.

5. Giving them frames--everybody loves frames; they really love them when the link they click on opens in that teensy frame.

6. Using a cheap or free site, so you can be sure the viewer will be bombarded with lots of interesting popup boxes, distracting banners, etc.

7. Hiding the good stuff. Burying all your links in the text or putting them at the bottom of a twenty-inch scroll. Everybody likes a treasure hunt.

8. Making the viewer drill down five screens before you tell them what they want to know. The harder you have to work to get the information you want, the more valuable it is, right?

9. Sparing the public the necessity of contacting you by providing no way to do it.

10. Letting your viewer feel superior by making sure you include a few grammar errors or spelling mistakes for them to find. It's guaranteed to let them know you they can trust you to tell a story they're going to want to read!