Websites are like computers. They work best when you keep things logical. That is also true when you start to design your website. There is a method in doing this, and if you follow this method, you will probably be ok. I am not going to say that you are never going to have to call your host technical support, but if you keep your website simple, you will do just fine.
Get Your Yellow Pad
When you design your website, you can’t simply sit down and throw something together. If you work like this, you are probably going to see all types of issues that you will have to go back and fix. That is harder than getting started properly at the beginning.
- Think about the different websites you visit (and I hope you have been exploring other author websites and even other informational websites), for they can give you ideas as to what you like and don’t like in a website. Write this all down as you visit those sites, for the information will give you a good starting point. Think about the look of the pages, ease of use, color, fonts, images, and so on. What works for you? Do you like 1 column of text or do you like a side bar next to it?
- Create your content. What are you going to say to your visitors? Are you only going to write about yourself and your activities? Are you going to promote your book(s)? Are you planning to sell your book on your site (more on this later)? Now, let’s divide that content up into your web design.
A website can have 1 page or it can have hundreds or anywhere in between. A new author site would probably have 1-4 pages, again depending upon what you wish to include. Now, think about how your files are organized within your computer. You will have general files which hold specific files which again hold even more specific files. Techies often refer to this as a “tree.” You have a trunk (computer) with branches (general files) connected to smaller branches (specific files).
- Your website will have this same “tree” design. You will have one page, a home page, which can welcome your visitors. From that page, your visitors can navigate to your other pages. If you were to add blogs, your sketch might look something like this:
In very simple, non-technical terms, when you create this illustration, you have basically created what is called a “sitemap.” Of course, the actual sitemap will be in a defined format, but will be saying what your website looks like graphically. You need to make sure that your design is logical and makes sense, for this is one of the things that search engines (think Google) use to find your website and information. Here is an example of a sitemap:
Moving Forward After You
Design Your Website
After you design your website, you are ready to start writing the content. As with any writing, think about your audience. What would they like to know about you, your book, your thoughts (blog)? Write at least 300 words for each page that you want to include. In your design, you might want to make notes about what you wish to include on each page. Keeping your objectives clear will keep your writing focused and that is important on a website. Plan for some images on each page. Right now, the most important thing you can do is get your content down on paper.
Today, you have an idea how to design your website. No two websites are alike, and yours will reflect your personality and interests. The next step will be creating your actual website, and we will be using WordPress themes (free). Also, in one of the forthcoming blogs, I will be showing you where to find copyright free images and graphics, and then once everything is in your WordPress template theme, we will discuss some simple SEO (search engine optimization).
Design your website and create your content now, so you will be ready to start on the next step: building your website.