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Website - Part 3
by Tina Morgan
You know what you want on your site, you have all the writing completed, now you're ready to begin the final step, design.
The layout of your site can take a variety of forms but you want to keep a few thoughts in mind when determining the type of layout you want to use.
Ease of Navigation
Ease of navigation is very important. Not everyone is experienced with using the Internet and you want to make a new user's visit to your site as uncomplicated and non-frustrating as possible. Even if the viewer is an experienced web browser, if they can't navigate your site quickly and easily, then they just might leave before they buy or book or read the first paragraph.
What makes a site easy to navigate? Clearly marked menus or navigation buttons.
Hiding the buttons within the text requires the reader to take the time to try to find them. You might be thinking that this is good because you want them to stay on your site, but what if they already know they want to buy your book, but their Internet time is limited? Do you want to lose that sale because you've hidden the necessary links?
Graphics are best when used sparingly. Graphics can significantly slow load times. Not only that, but a site cluttered with graphics or animation detracts from what you are trying to sell .your writing. Obviously this is different if you are a cartoonist or illustrator.
A limited number of nice graphics is far better than a large amount of free clip art. Visit different writers' websites. Take the time to find sites you feel capture the mood you wish to convey with your own site. Use these as inspiration.
Music, like graphics, can cause slow load times and even crash a computer with a slow modem. You have a T1 connection and load times aren't a problem? Most of the world has T1 connections, right? The number of users still using dial up connections might surprise you. For me, cable TV isn't even an option in my area and I live within fifty miles of three major cities. Add to that the cost of a T1 connection and, even if it's available, not all users will pay for it.
The question of music on a website came up in one of my writers' groups. One of the members mentioned that she also composes music and for her, it was very important for her music to accompany her poetry. This is a valid reason for wanting music on your site, but if you choose to use it, consider allowing the viewer to turn the music on after the page downloads. A media player file will sound better even if it takes longer to download than a midi file.
Keep in mind that most music and graphics are copyrighted. Make certain you have the legal right to use them on your site. If you are using free content that the author/composer/illustrator has asked for a return link, make certain that you provide that link. Not only is this correct web etiquette, but also when the creator of the content checks his/her site hits, he/she may come visit your site and buy your novel.
Font: There are some very creative and unique fonts available to a web designer. How do you choose the best one for you? Simplicity is best. Curly, elaborate fonts might be pretty but if the viewer can't read them, they're not going to stay. This is especially important if you've created a site to share your work. The viewer will be spending far more time on your site. Don't use a font that causes eyestrain. Remember, your goal is to have people read what you've written, not to impress them with your web design. Besides, they'll be more impressed if they can actually read what you've created.
I've mentioned color in my previous articles but it bears repeating that a lot of thought needs to go into the colors you use. Using shades of the same color can be very attractive but it can also be very hard to see. Some of your viewers will be colorblind. Not everyone has a high-resolution monitor so there is a danger in losing the text or buttons in the background color.
Limiting graphics, music and color does not mean a boring site. You need to decide the real reason for your site. Publishing is a business. If you're in it to make money then you need to sell books and you need a professional site.
© Copyright 2002 Tina Morgan. All rights reserved.
Go to Part Four of The Writer's Website
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