Thursday, March 15, 2012

What's in a Website?

What I'm reading: Winterkill, by C.J. Box

Don't forget: leave a comment on Tuesday's post for a chance to win a copy of NO MORE BULL.

First - the big news. SAVING SCOTT is now live at Barnes & Noble!

I'm on my way to Los Angeles for a family visit and to cheer my daughter on in the LA Marathon. I've been busy trying to migrate my website, although it's still very much a work in progress and following links will take you to my old site for some things, my new site for some others.

What's important to me in a web site?

First, it needs to be a place where people go for information, not entertainment. So, no animated graphics, no bouncing text, and no music. (I'll say that again. NO Music.) People browsing the web might be doing so late at night with others asleep, or they might be listening to their own music. If, for some reason, you do want music on a website, at least have it default to off and let the reader decide to turn it on.

Readability. For me, that means a dark text on a light background, and uncluttered pages. I simply can't read those white-on-black sites, and unless it's of vital importance that I do so, I simply navigate away.

Ease of navigation. If someone is looking for something, it should be clear where they have to look.

Links that work with as few clicks as possible.

For me, the challenge has been (aside from learning enough Wordpress to be considered dangerous) how to organize the site. I've learned how to create "parent/child" pages, so if you hover your cursor over a header on the Nav Bar, if there are sub-pages, you can find them. But do people actually do this? I hope so.

And what goes where? I've called one of my tabs "Books", but it's got more than my novels in there. And I've grouped my novels by series. This adds clicks, but I thought it would help readers zero in on what they're looking for. I know I went round and round trying to decide where to put "First Chapter Reads." They're included as links on each book's page, but if people are interested in reading them, they might like to see the choices all on one page.

I still haven't decided about reviews. Do I create a page for Reviews, and then sub pages (which is how my "old" site is organized), or do I create a link to a review page specific to each book and put it on the book's page? Or do people even care about reviews?

Eventually, I hope to migrate my blog to Wordpress as well, so everything is in one place. Although, I wonder how many readers actually pay attention to where they end up when they click a link.

Most of this technical stuff will wait until I get back. But for now, I'd love it if you'd visit the new site and give it a test run. Do the links work? Did you get lost? Is there something I've forgotten to include?

I'll be unplugged most of the time, although I'll try to check in at least once or twice a day while I'm gone. And cross your fingers that the forecast for rain for the marathon doesn't come true. Running in the rain might not be so bad, but standing around waiting and watching…well, I'd rather be dry.

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Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

The site looks great, Terry! I thought the navigation made sense and worked well. I also like that you have *all* your contact info on your contact page. It always drives me batty when I just want to find someone's Twitter handle and the contact page only has an email form set up.

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. I put some of the basic social sites on the front page sidebar, but I don't think I want a cluttered sidebar, and I don't want it on every page. The challenge will be trying to learn how to have a "busier" sidebar on my blog--I think that's a more advanced Wordpress skill. Meanwhile, I'm leaving my blog here.

Jerrie Alexander said...

The site is really nice. I agree about the ease of finding things and light background white darker type.

Jemi Fraser said...

Everything looks great. I like the books being divided up by series. It's 'clean' and attractive - well done :)

Vicki Batman, said...

Easy is important and black letters on white. No music and good contact info.

Good reminders on what's important.

Terry Odell said...

Jerrie - yes, that's one of my bugaboos about websites.

Jemi - thanks!

Vicki - well, those are important to me, so that's my focus as I work on the site. Thanks for stopping by.

Mary Keith - Keith Publications, LLC said...

I don't like music or blk on wht sites. Your site seems easy and clean.

Stacy Green said...

I like your site, too. My domain name currently points to my blog, but hubby and I (thank God he's an IT guy) are working on the website. I was just telling him last night I don't want anything flashy and NO music. That drives me nuts.

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NODE of Texas said...

Terry's done a good job getting content laid out and interfacing it with the web. Blogger is an awesome platform for that. The next step is moving a site onto a more powerful "content management system" and one of those is called Joomla. Here's a video of how to get started really easily.

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