Yesterday, I posted a LONG discussion on how to figure out the requirements for your web site. I made a list of 9 questions you should answer before you ever start designing your site. I’d like to discuss those next.
I’m teaching a course on web design for homeschooled middle and high schoolers. Could I use your list of questions in this post with them?
Randy sez: Yes, just tell them where you got them. By the way, folks, if you’re finding this discussion useful, go ahead and spread the word.
OK, let’s look at that first question on the list I made yesterday, along with the possible answers. For each answer, I’ll tell you what design constraints that’s going to impose on you.
Question 1) What is the purpose of your web site?
Answer a: To let me express myself
Randy sez: If that’s your only goal, then you may not need more than a blog. If that’s one of your goals, then a blog should probably be part of your site.
Answer b: To let me tell the world about myself
Randy sez: Again, a blog might fill the bill here, depending on how much there is to say about you. Or you might want a small web site with a few pages (unless there is just an awful lot about you that needs saying).
Answer c: To tell the world about my books
Randy sez: A blog could in principle do this, but most authors with a few books want a web site with one page per book. Be aware that the world quite honestly doesn’t CARE that much about your books, so you should think seriously about making your site about more than just your books.
Answer d: To market my books
Randy sez: If you actually want to MARKET your books using your web site, then you’ll be wanting to attract people to your site who never heard of you. That means you need a way to bring in traffic to your site, and it should be free traffic, because you simply can’t afford to pay for traffic on the royalties from your books. Attracting traffic means that your web site needs to be about MORE than just your books. (Otherwise, the only people who come to your site will be people who ALREADY know about your books, and that’s not really marketing, is it?)
Answer e: To market other products or services
Randy sez: The same goes here as for Answer d above. Depending on the profit margins for these products and services, you might be able to pay for traffic using something like Google AdWords. But it’s always better to get free traffic than to pay for it, so it still makes sense to make your site about something that will bring in traffic. More on this later.
Answer f: To give away my ideas for free
Randy sez: That’s very altruistic! Good for you! Giving away ideas for free is a Good Thing To Do, and I highly recommend it. I’ll note that you aren’t required to give away every one of your ideas for free. You can give away some and sell some. I happen to think this is a smart thing to do. You might very well get a lot of free traffic, you’ll definitely do something good for the world, and you will earn enough money so you can afford to come up with more ideas to give away for free. It can turn into a vicious circle of goodness if you don’t watch out!
Answer g: Some other purpose
Randy sez: Oh, that’s helpful. Make sure you know what that purpose is, because it will determine what sort of site you need.
Answer h: Any combination of the above
Randy sez: Figure out which combination it is, and then read my remarks above for each one that applies.
That’s enough for one day. We’ll look at the next couple of questions on my list tomorrow.