Thursday, November 13, 2014

Web sites: Keep them Simple

After just returning from a Heart of America Christian Network Writers conference in Overland Park, Kan., I took stock of what I learned during several workshop sessions. One great workshop was on how to create an effective Web site. The workshop was facilitated by Jim Watkins of Wesleyan Publishing.
    Pay close attention to detail and keep it consistent, he said, highlighting Rev. Billy Graham’s site as a good example of a well done Web site. What makes it a good site is its simplicity. It is not  cluttered with material, is easy to read and navigate, Watkins added. Here is a link to that site:
    A key to a good Web site is to define the blog or Web site's purpose, he said. Is its purpose for people to become acquainted with you through your author biography (which, according to him, is a must), get a taste of your work through reading samples of your material or is it have people buy your products, books or more? If your ultimate purpose is for visitors to purchase your goods then make sure no more than two clicks takes them there or anywhere else on your site, Watkins said.
    What you are offering? That needs to be shown on your home page, he said. Also, include a way viewers can search your site and contact you, he continued.
    The most important item is to keep the site simple without fancy colors and fonts, Watkins said. Black lettering on white background still is the best. Also, use easy to read fonts, such as Helvetica, and do not employ point sizes smaller than 10 to 11 points, he said. You can, though, utilize bold and italics to vary the font you chose. Also, he advised participants to never use all capitals.
    We read from left to right so place the most important item(s) there, he said. Size means significance. Thus, your largest lettering denotes prominence whereas each size degradation portrays lesser value, Watkins continued.
    You can add color to your Web site but try to find a color which represents you and when seen throughout media spectrums it becomes recognizable as "your color," he said. Through my experience, I would not use white lettering because when the item is printed out it will not show up on white paper.
    Do not overload your site with images, he cautioned. These take time to load and through my experience it is something which instead of be inviting to viewers could make them instantly leave your site. People are busy so design your site accordingly. 
    Yahoo small business is good. They have several templates you can choose and cost about $120 a year and are easy to use, according to a person familiar with this method. Most blog sites also are easy to use, and you can use your blog as your Web site.
    How do you promote your Web site once it is done? Ask questions on Facebook which provides interaction and visits to your site, Watkins suggested. In conjunction with this, I have a question for you. To those who have read Courtships and Carriages, what character would you like to see as my main character in Book Two of the Great Plains series? Please respond here. I will post this question at a later date on Facebook.
    Well, my hope is that this post was informative and until we meet again many of the Lord’s blessings to you.