Monday, October 22, 2012

New Website Going Live On Nov. 12 or Nov. 19

STATUS: I'll be a much saner person then. Hey, I'm an optimist!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now?  YOU by Bonnie Raitt

Thanks for all the comments and feedback on FB versus blogging. Quite frankly, I had been sensing that blogging in general was becoming a bit passé. But it sounds like there is still a lot of interest in educational posts being delivered through the longer blog medium. Well, I hear you. I'm still debating on how practical it will be given my overwhelming workload. It's much easier to throw up some insightful posts on Facebook. But I also get that a lot of folks aren't on FB and have no interest in joining. And to be honest, I'm too verbose for twitter. *grin*

When I think of our new redesigned website going live, I start bouncing in my seat. It's amazing. But it's also good fodder for a blog entry.

Here are some of the things I've learned and some tips to share:

1) If you haven't updated your website in the last 3 to 5 years, it's time to take a look at your site and evaluate its effectiveness. I know from our site, it wasn't highlighting all the different ways folks could learn or follow us via social media. Given how much has changed in the last couple years, our site was looking tired, old, and dated. None of that stuff was linked together. That's not effective.

As an author, you can't afford for fans to think the same of your site. They expect more. Is it fair, no, but there you have it.

2) Big question you must answer: who is your audience and what do you want them to learn from the site? The answer might be simple and then evolve into something more complex. For example, a simple answer for our site is this: our audience is writers looking for representation who might be interested in our agency.

So our site has to answer some basic questions - like how to submit to us, etc.  Well, that's obvious.

But our site shouldn't stop there. Writers who look at our website might also be enthusiastic readers (or at least I hope so!). So our site should also be a non-obtrusive advertisement for our client books in the sense that visitors to our site might also want to buy the books they stumble upon there.

Of course we "knew" that for our original site but we were not exploring the full potential there. The new site is going to be great for that without us coming across as used car sales people (or at least I hope that's the case!).

So how does this apply to you as a writer? Well, I see any number of writer sites that don't really answer this question well. How does it appeal to folks who are already fans of your work and then how might it rope in the possible new fan? I honestly don't see writers doing a lot for that second question. If you've seen some good sites that handle it well, include the links in the comments. We can use those examples as learning tools.

3) For our new site, we are adding a "how they came to us" under each client so aspiring writers can literally see who sent us a query (and we found them that way) versus who was a referral or a current client recommend. I imagine including stories like this will keep visitors engaged in our site and may be motivated to click around more and spend more time with us.

As a writer, what have you got that might create that for your visitors? I see so many writer sites that tend to be a plug for the book or books and not much else. If that's the case for your website, it's not doing the right job for you.

4) Clean design - I'm a huge proponent of this. I see so many wordpress websites that have good intentions but as a visitor, I'm completely overwhelmed by the amount of links, buttons, images, or what have you. It may just be me but I can actually feel my heart rate speeding up when I'm confronted with too much info on a web page. It's stressful.

So I can't wait to show you the new site. And yes, I'm getting back to blogging even though that means more entries to migrate over to the new site. I pity our web designer.