Web Design

Web Design - Step 2 in my journey into e-book self publishing.

Last week I decided it was time to focus on designing my web-site. I’ve had the domain name for a while as I’d done some preliminary research on names available and was pleasantly surprised to find that melparish.com had not already been taken. In the past I’ve missed out on desired train tickets, shows and hotel reservations due to indecisiveness so, operating on the assumption that if I waited until I was ready to do the design it would have gone, I snapped it up. If you want to attract readers to your site you need to make it as easy as possible for them to find it and I really didn’t want to end up in a position where I had to add random numbers or letters to the web-site name as I have had to do with email addresses.

Go-daddy.com provides a web hosting and a web design package. Given my lack of design skills the offer of a ‘Web Site Tonight’ option was too much to resist; the chance to use templates to build a five page web-site - which seemed more than adequate for my initial venture - in one evening. A week later and I’m sure that if you’d planned what you wanted to put on your site in advance, taken the necessary photos and weren’t quite as computer illiterate as I am (or should I say, I was), that you could indeed build your web-site in one evening: mine is still a work in progress.

I started with a template that included a picture on the assumption that I could just replace it with a photo of my book cover. It took me quite a while to work out how to do that, but eventually I achieved my goal. This success encouraged me to add a credit for the cover design. My first attempt resulted in the credit written across the cover itself; the second seemed to send the credit into oblivion – I was obviously missing some very important step.  I decided that maybe if I resized the photo that would give me more space in the available block, but unfortunately I ended up with a book cover about an inch tall and three inches wide – not quite the desired image I had in mind – and when I tried to change it back, the original stock picture appeared! At that point I’d had enough of web design for one

The following night I tried again, but an hour and several curses later, I was beginning to think along the lines “Do I really need a web-site?” Unfortunately a little voice in my head (I think it was mine, but it could well have been one of my characters) kept replying, “Yes, you do.” Having learnt in the course of my writing not to ignore too many of these little voices, I soldiered on, with pretty much the same results.

Day three, I tried a different template – this one virtually blank save for an appropriate writing theme background. In minutes I had my book cover photo uploaded, with the credit in the correct place. I added a jacket-flap synopsis of the novel and, by the time I finished for the evening, found I was almost enjoying myself!

Day four, I re-opened my web-site with trepidation, sure that I was going to find all the previous day’s efforts had disappeared, only to feel rather smug when the page opened intact. Emboldened by my new skills, I added three more pages – about the author, requiring yet another photo, a preview of the opening paragraphs of Silent Lies and a contact page. Adding the pages was simplicity itself; renaming the tabs, I found a little more difficult because in my excitement at being able to instantly add a new page, I missed the box which allowed you to convert the default heading of a page number into your own title. You would think by now I’d know to read all the instructions and not just the first lines!

Day five: and my web-site was still there! Simple, but informative. However, I know when I started I had an idea for all five pages, but the topic for the fifth page seems to have deserted me and, of course, I can’t find the piece of paper I scribbled those thoughts down on.

I’ve waited several days before publishing so that I can go back to it with fresh eyes and make sure I’m still happy with it (and hopefully remember the reason for that fifth page), but tonight should finally see the launch of melparish.com. 

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Sara B Caldwell October 21, 2011 at 05:31 AM
HI Mel, I can understand your frustration. Back in 2001 when I started learning web design (and well before I started my web development company), GoDaddy did not have a Website Tonight package because--quite frankly--we were no where as sophisticated with Web 2.0 as we are now. Why did you decide to build out the site yourself? It may seem cheaper up front to use this sort of package, but GoDaddy's in particular is quite limiting. You MUST use a GoDaddy template, but there are only ~250 to choose from. It may seem like a lot, but it isn't. You cannot design pages and upload them (no FTP ability). You cannot add more than five pages. Most non-website-builders leave out essential information for search engines: meta tags. Without them, your site will not get many, if any, clients via a Google search (your homepage, for instance is titled, "Home Page" with a description, "Home Page"). You have a restricted (and quite low) bandwidth transfer of 1GB, so if you get people to download previews of your book and you go over your amount, your site will shut down for the rest of the month. If you are looking at needing a site on the cheap and absolutely decide to do it yourself, it may be worth sitting down with a web developer for an hour just to make sure you aren't leaving anything out, and to verify that your thoughts/brand get translated to the web effectively. But it looks like you conquered a lot of it, so congrats. Beef up the SEO and you should be good.
Mel Parish November 09, 2011 at 05:21 PM
Hi Sarah, thanks for the comments. For the moment I just wanted to get a simple web-site up and running, which is why I picked GoDaddy, but I'm sure in the fullness of time I will look into having something with more options. Do you have a website for your company for future reference?
back40 August 17, 2012 at 09:09 AM
Very informative post. Your post really gonna help the people like me who are looking for such terms and info.... I am glad i visited here and learned. http://www.back40design.com/


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