Today, we’ll resume our running discussion of blogs and web sites and what you need to do to develop them. First, I’ll tackle a few questions from readers:
Randy, I am interested in starting a blog. If we quote someone, maybe you let’s say, and we give you attribution, are we supposed to seek permission first?
Also, what is the cyber acceptable procedure for including links on a website or blog? Do we need a signed contract of acknowledgement from the originator?
Randy sez: The usual copyright rules still apply. If you quote an entire article on your web site or blog, you’d better have permission from the real author. With Google at hand, it’s easy for me to check if somebody is quoting my articles without permission (and sometimes they do it without even an attribution, so it looks like they wrote it).
If you quote a sentence or two from a blog or web article, that’s generally fine, but you should link to them. That’s not only polite, it even helps them.
As for links to other web sites or blogs, I’ve never heard of anyone complaining about an incoming link! Those are good! If you want to link to my web site or blog, feel free! Even if you don’t want to, do it anyway! 🙂
Incoming links strengthen a web site. There is no down-side to an incoming link. No need to ask permission. Just do it.
ehhhmmm…. good question Cori. Maybe I should have asked that one before I put a link to Randy’s blog in my last blog post. (I had some very scathing things to say about this blog and the appalling lack of in-your-face advertising.)
Randy sez: Thanks, Camille! Scathe me all you want, as long as you link to me! 🙂
Sesgaia asked (regarding the YouTube contest I blogged about last week):
I’m curious- how does something like this contest figure in to an already existing goals plan? Would it be considered an interruption, or would it just require re-arranging other priorities? Because it certainly seems time-consuming…
Randy sez: From a time-management perspective, a contest like that is an interruption. When an opportunity like that comes in, I ask whether the payoff is worth the time investment. If not, then I skip it. For me, the time to create a YouTube video is not much. I spent about half an hour total writing my script. I filmed a test video on my iMac using the built-in camera. Right now, the audio quality isn’t great and I need to make a couple of tweaks to the physical environment, but I’m almost ready to shoot the final version. For me, the biggest problem has been that I didn’t have much experience making a movie with iMovie until I tried this, so I’m burning some time learning that. However, I was planning to produce some video products in the next few months anyway, so I might as well learn it now as later. For me, the time is worth it, but it’s also delaying my current Short Term Target, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay.
OK, let’s move on to talk about web site requirements some more. Some days ago, I posted a list of 9 questions you should ask yourself before you design your web site or blog. I’ve discussed 4 of those in more detail. Today, we’ll look at #5, along with some possible responses:
Question 5) How interactive do you want your site?
Answer a: I just want to show information; the user just needs to be able to get from one page to the others by clicking links
Randy sez: Good! This is simple and you could easily learn to do those links yourself. So you have options. You can build your whole site, or have a pro do it and then update it yourself.
Answer b: I may have a few forms on my site, (for example, a form that sends email)
Randy sez: Forms are a simple type of interaction, and you can easily do those without any help from anyone, if you take the time to learn how.
Answer c: I want fancy graphics that move around; show me some glitz, Baby!
Randy sez: Sigh. Once again, make sure you have a good reason for this, because this is going to cost you in terms of time, energy, and aggravation.
Answer d: I want my users to be able to leave comments (for example, comments on a blog)
Randy sez: This is relatively easy to do, at least within a blog, because all you need is blogging software, which is freely available.
Answer e: I want users to be able to enter information into databases so my site can display that or do computations (for example, an income tax calculating web site)
Randy sez: This is much more work, unless you can find software somewhere that does exactly what you want. But normally, this requires you to create a database and then write software in some language such as Perl, PHP, Java, or Ruby to hook up your web pages to the database. It’s doable, but be prepared to pay for it, either in time or money.
We’ll look at the next question on the list tomorrow.
Lynn Squire says
Randy, one of the things my husband and I have been discussing over the last few months has been to add downloadable audio and possibly video files to our website. This idea came from a discussion with a number of people who listen to mp3s or books on cd (my husband does this every day when he drives to work). My question is on the layout of a website to allow for this. Would it be better to have a list of these files on the front page or a link to a page that has a list of files (right now we only have pdf files for download)?
Over the next few months we plan to completely revamp our website.
I’m late to the conversation here, but wanted to point out a good (FREE!) open source web site development program. With a little front-end programming by my software engineer husband, I was able to put together my entire website on my own using Joomla. Sure it took a few weeks of my time, and might not be as swift or professional as some, but I’ve been able to put on there everything someone might want to access as far as my book goes, including online ordering, contact form, downloadable templates and an inside look at the book. Again, Joomla made it all fairly easy once you got the hang of it. I’d highly recommend it for someone just starting out who is not ready to pay the big bucks.
Charlotte Babb says
I just wanted to say that I posted a video entry today too…first time ever. It took more than 15 minutes, a couple of hours this morning. But it’s done.
Do you have any ideas on using one wordpress installation for several blogs? I would prefer to do all my customizing at tone time, and not for six or eight installations individually for time and energy constraints if nothing else.
I’ve looked at Joomla for a membership site that I run for the Southeastern Writers Association. It seems like a lot of setup and more bells and whistles than I am ready to learn how to play. I have set up a Zen Cart website (YIKES!), and do my own paypal buttons when needed.