Should I Have A Website?

Image result for thinking woman

Having an online presence seems to be increasingly important for writers. Although I can’t imagine Beatrix Potter or Joseph Conrad would have had much truck with all this social media and self-promotion.

The anatomy of a Blog

Unlike many bloggers, I am not efficient nor consistent in my posts, it has been what, five weeks since I last updated? Shocking. But they are are a fantastic way of sharing information and opinions, and they can be a great tool for starting debates and conversations; if that is the way your blog is written. Blogs tend to be written in a chatty or informal style, or at least mine do, and often reveal something about the personality of the blogger.

Lately, I have been considering the idea of setting up a website – as somewhere to promote my books. The website also needs attention once it is set up, but not as much. One could liken the blog to an allotment – it needs regular tending and maintenance, whereas the website is akin to a meadow – it might need a little mowing or sowing now and again.

If I did decide to use a website, I imagine this blog would sink slowly into the sunset as I’d not be able to divide my time between work, writing, blogging and the website – so what to do?

The anatomy of a Website

Websites tend to follow a standard format, not dissimilar to blog pages as far as I can tell, in that they have a Homepage/About page, a Contact section, and Products and Services; though these may be incorporated within the body of a post on Blogs.

And which sort of website set-up would I use?

Content management system (CMS) – Is a system designed to support the management of the content of web pages. You can easily manage text and embedded graphics, photos, video, audio, maps, and program code (e.g. for applications) that displays content or interacts with the user.

Self set-up involves lots of skills, such as being able design and code. Although it might be the cheapest option in the long term, it might be time consuming; and in my case as someone with little IT competence, almost impossible.

Website/blog builder service – a program, or tool, that helps you build a website. The programs are very user friendly and use a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interface with drag and drop elements.

For authors to best showcase their products and give full details of WIP (Work In Progress) they are better off setting up a website. But what are the different Pros and Cons of Websites and Blogs?

Using a free Content Management System (CMS)

Pros
Flexible
Advanced features
Easy to publish
User friendly
Usually includes hosting and free for basic websites
Content can be updated rapidly
Cons
Regular updates are required to make the site safe from hackers
The CMS stores everything separately, then assembles it on the fly when the web client requests a page, which means they can be slow

Doing all the setting up yourself

Pros
Cost-effective
Total Flexibility
Easy to publish
Cons
Time consuming
Requires design skills
Requires coding skills

Using a website/blog builder service

Pros
You don’t need any coding skills
You don’t need any design skills
Quick turn around
Easy to publish
Usually includes hosting and domain names for a premium cost
User friendly: WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get)
Cons
Usually comes with strings attached
Less flexibility
Expensive

After ploughing through the possibilities; which reduce drastically the less computer literate a certain person might be (!), there is then the problem of choosing a…

DOMAIN NAME

When I first started using computers and the website came of age, this word suddenly entered my world. What on earth is a Domain Name? I wondered. It sounds, still, like something from a Dungeons & Dragons quest: The Domain of Uglith The Mighty!!

Image result for D & D domain demon
Image from Forgotten Realms.

Simply, a Domain Name is a web address, like: mywebsite.com. If you’re not using a web builder service, you need to register a domain with a company that sells domain names, apparently! Not only that, you have to pay for it! If the name isn’t available, you have to try for another one – so I have read. Does this mean that I can’t make my own up? I couldn’t locate that information…in all honesty, I got bored reading yards and yards of text. What I did pick up was to make your domain, Catchy, Unique and Easy to Remember.

Then there is the issue of Hosting.

Related image

Note: I’m sure you can see a pattern beginning to develop here. Information and explanation becoming less cohesive and explanatory as I progress. If you’re familiar with my blogs, then you’ll understand – I am simply not built for the Information Technology Age. Anyway, back to Hosting. It’s not about wearing red velvet smoking jackets and regaling your guests with tales of derring do. Rather it’s something to do with computers called ‘Servers’, which run operating systems, store files and connect to the internet. They are designed to be open to the public so browsers can access web content. ‘Hosting’ refers to the company that rents space on one of their servers so they can ‘host’ your site there.

Some things I have to consider – so I am told.

  1. What type of website do I want to create?
  2. What will be the technical requirements of the website?
  3. What level of security do I require?
  4. Do I need email hosting?
  5. How large is the data I will be storing?
  6. What volume of traffic do I initially expect? And in the future?
  7. What’s my monthly hosting budget?

To all of the above, my answer is a consistent, I don’t know!

But I have collected some Top Tips to keep people engaged in your website:

  1. Have clear navigation – if it’s not clear, people will get frustrated and leave.
  2. Use call to action buttons – helps lead people to desired actions.
  3. Make sure your site is loading quickly – humans are impatient creatures.
  4. Keep it minimal – too much design is distracting.
  5. Keep the same look and feel throughout – a ‘brand’ identity is visually more appealing.

It all seems like a lot of hard work. I’m lazy by nature and will try to get away doing as little as possible. But, I feel on the cusp of progressing with my writing. It needs a home of its own, something that can ‘look after itself’ so to speak.

So…

Should I Have A Website? I haven’t got a Scooby Doo!

Published by

Alexandra

Writer of fiction, sci-fi, horror and more. Painter of magic realism. Grower of cabbages and currants.

4 thoughts on “Should I Have A Website?”

  1. I’m not much of a techie, but your blog looks very professional. I quite enjoy the ease of using this platform (WordPress) and enjoy the interaction and ease of flicking through other blogs. I had a website for another business but it felt very static, blogging feels more creative and dynamic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Joanne,
      Firstly, thank you for reading my blog, and commenting. Also, thanks, for saying it looks professional. I’m not sure I have been called a professional anything before! Much appreciated. I hope you continue to enjoy the randomness that is Flailing Through Life.

      Like

  2. Hi Alex

    You raised quite a few questions here that needs answering. As someone who has had a web site for a number of years, going back to the days of using HTML code, I can understand the fears many people will have of actually setting up a web site. It can also be an expensive business for the unwary, especially when it comes to getting a domain name. HOWEVER, all that has gone if you use one of the many hosting services that is out there.
    I currently use wixsite.com (Free) and have to admit it is one of the easiest sites I have used in setting up a page. Click on my home page at the bottom of this email, and while it might not rival Microsoft for slickness, it is perfect for my needs, easy to upload to from drop down menus, add pages, images etc, dead easy. If you use the free stuff across the web for images, Jpegs and Gifs, then setting up and maintaining a site on wixsite will cost you absolutely nothing.
    My site needs a bit of TLC ATM, it’s been a while since I updated it, but when I do, the “effort” I use will take me about ten-fifteen minutes. I wonder with this service and software being available, Wirral Writers don’t use it, much better than the Blog type pages they use now, and could with a bit of exposure on Facebook etc attract a few more members, but hey ho, what do I know 😊

    Have fun

    Paul

    p.s. If you do go with it and need a bit of help. Shout. While the missus is away I have time 😊

    http://paulgmann.wixsite.com/home

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

    Like

    1. Hi Paul!
      Thanks for reading my blog, I really appreciate it.
      I have been wondering about Wix, as it seems the most likely for my needs.
      I will definitely go and visit yours – I think I may have already at some point. Regarding Wirral Writers, I think you’re right. The blogger site feels dated, even though it has been updated. Maybe suggest it to Mike and the group at the next meeting.

      Like

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