Websites: getting going

These days, it seems you need a web presence for everything. Everything. But, what to do if, like me, you are a technoidiot?

Delegate.

I’ve been pretty lucky. I just happen to know this guy and when I needed my last website doing, he was just starting up in web design. We did a deal–He would do my site, I would pay him in occasional boozy lunches and letting him add the site to his portfolio. As he’s progressed, each update of the site just looks better and better. Even if a lot of it was done while he was in tent in Germany. But, as today we’ve been (yes, at the pub) discussing my new Francis Knight website, I thought I might take a look at things to think about when setting up a website.

Firstly we talked about what sort of info etc will be on the site. I’ll have my books etc on the front page. Vital–people need to see the books! And on the landing page is best. After all, if anyone looks me up, it’s going to be about the books. Okay. Then we’ll have this blog linked in on another page. An ‘about me’ (I hesitated on this, but people like to know about the authors they are reading so, it’s in), a contact page, and maybe a page where I/you review books, or have some other content. In the interests of keeping a website near the top of Google etc, it appears that ‘bounce rate’ helps you climb. If, like me, you didn’t know what bounce rate is, it’s when people don’t just look at the page they land on, they click through to other pages. So, have the books on the front page, but make sure that people will want to click through for other stuff. Way too technical for me, but there you are. If you really want to know all that stuff (and someone involved in your website should!) then look up SEO optimisation. I wish you luck, because that kind of things flies over my head faster than Superman.

Second to content is appearance. Website guy (Hi Pete!) had an image that he’s put on the holding page while we build the site, but we were both ‘Well it’s got bits I like, but…meh’. It’s fairly vital that the look of the page reflects the content of both your website AND your books. If your tagline (you have one, don’t you? If not, you need one. A short sentence that gives a flavour of what people can expect from your books.) Anyway, if your tagline for instance reads ‘Dark and nasty horror to make you pee your pants’ then a fluffy pink and gold website with cute bunnies on it won’t fit. People will be disappointed when they don’t get what they expect, from your books or from the site. Given that I’m writing fantasy noir, and that my tagline is ‘Dark, nuanced and complicated stories’ well, my website needs to reflect both of those. So what we’re hoping to get is something in black, grey and red – colours associated with the noir genre – and something dark and nuanced. Hopefully something stylish too, a la Sin City.

It’s worth taking your time over this part. You want something that a) reflects you and your work b) ties the site together and c) isn’t either too busy or too plain.

And that’s it – for now anyway. It all got a bit technical after that….

So, sometime over the next few weeks, my website will go live – currently it has a little Morph in a builder’s hat saying ‘Under Construction’ – and then you can tell me where I got it all wrong.

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