Friday, July 25, 2008

What a Web Page Does

There is a lot of hype about how every professional entity needs a web site, but, when you aren't a marketing guru, getting to the reason behind the clamoring can be confusing. What it boils down to is that web sites can do a lot of the same marketing activities in cyberspace for far less than it costs to do in print: bill boards, press releases, product demos, newsletters, opt-in mailing lists, Question & Answer guides.... The list is huge, and it can seem intimidating at first glance. DON'T PANIC. Not every web site *needs* to do all these things.

Let's take this page by page.

Every web site has a home page. This is the page you land on when you type the site's URL in the address bar and click your browser's "Go" button. "Above the fold" is cross-over jargon from journalism. That phrase refers to the portion of the page your viewers see as soon as the page loads. "Above the fold" on the home page is the single most important part of any web site. Viewers browsing through decide how relevant a site is to them based on what they see in that first glimpse. Think of this part as your bill board.

Next up are section pages. These are mini-home pages for each topic you cover in your site. Common section titles for author web sites include: Bibliography, News, Contact, and Appearances. Some authors provide "added value" sections, such as a blog related to the topic they write on (mystery writers keeping track of forensic advances, for example). Your bibliography is your book list. News sections are usually blog-style roll outs of the latest on dit regarding your writing--the status of books in the pipeline, the updates to release dates, new appearances scheduled, etc. Contact sections can be as small as an "email me" form or they can have the F.A.Q.s (Frequently Asked Questions) and the publisher's address, too.

Under the section pages come the content pages. These are where you get down to the nitty-gritties. Take, for instance, a content page in your bibliography. The bibliography section page should have links to all the things you wrote that you're trying to sell. Those links go to content pages that provide more information on the particular piece, possibly even samples of the writing and a "click to buy" button.

So, that's the flow of a web site with the overview of what the different pages do. Next article up is going to cover planning out your site.

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