Developing Effective Web sites

Ruth Ann Nordin and I just returned from a Heart of America Christian Networking conference. We had a wonderful time. The conference revitalized our faith and our writing. There were many workshops, and one of those was on how to develop an effective Web site. That workshop was facilitated by Jim Watkins of Wesleyan Publishing.

As you develop your site, pay close attention to detail and keep it consistent, he said. He highlighted Billy Graham’s site as a good example of a well done Web site — simple, easy to read and not cluttered with material. Here is a link to that site for your examination:  http://billygraham.org/video/heaven/?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=November%202014&utm_campaign=CTV&SOURCE=BT14BYGGS&gclid=CPWlsobI88ECFehAMgodSmkA4Q

Define the blog or Web site’s purpose, he said. Is it for people to get to know you better through an author biography (which, according to him, is a must), to sample your material and/or purchase your books or what? If your ultimate purpose is for visitors to buy your products then make sure no more than two clicks gets them there or anywhere on your site, Watkins said.

The home page should show what you are offering, he said. Also, give viewers a way to search your site and contact you.

In addition, keep the site simple, the best readability still is white background with black lettering, Watkins said. Use fonts, such as Helvetica, which are easy to read. Point sizes should be no smaller than 10 to 11 points and use one font throughout your site. However, you can vary that font by using bold and italics and no matter what do not use all capital letters, he advised.

In the United States, we read from left to right so place the most important item(s) there, he said. Size, in addition, denotes significance, thus your largest lettering is the most prominent with each degradation in point size portraying less relevance, Watkins continued.

Adding color to your Web site is fine but make sure the color is rememberable because it should be used across media spectrums, he said.To go along with his point, I would tell you not to use white lettering. Because when you print out white lettering on white paper, it will not show up.

Watkins cautioned you to not overload your site with images. This, as you know, also takes more time to load and could make people leave your site before it finishes loading. I went to a Web site a few years ago, and it took forever to load the fancy wallpaper. I have not gone back since because I do not have time for that. So think of these details when designing your site.

Watkins likes WordPress because it is easy to use. WordPress has Web sites and blogs (which you could use as a Web site). Yahoo small business also is good, he said. These have templates you can choose and are about $120 a year and also are pretty easy to use, said a person familiar with this method.

After you have a Web site, how do you promote it? Watkins suggested you use Facebook to ask questions, prompting people to interact and to visit your site. I have such a question. 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? You can respond here. I will later post this question on Facebook.

Well, have a great day and I hope this post was informative. Many of the Lord’s blessings to you until we meet again.

17 Comments

  1. The readability thing really got me. When I first logged onto WordPress, I used Black Letterhead as my blog theme because it was dark, the lettering was orange, and it looked a little creepy, which was right up my alley. However one or two readers told me they had trouble reading against a black background, so I changed it. The theme I have now is a bit easier to read, and I’ve noticed a growth in readership, which I can’t complain about.

    1. Readers give you great input, Rami. Good luck in your writing endeavors. God bless.

  2. Elke Feuer says:

    Changing my home page worked best for me. Rather than welcoming them and telling them about me, I told them where they could find what they were looking for: books, the company, the event, etc. My traffic has increased significantly and I’ve noticed an increase in book sales too.

    Reviewing your website on a mobile device, to make sure it’s compatible, is also a good idea. Many times all those lovely plugin aren’t visible on a mobile device and a simple link works best.

    1. What a great idea in doing book promotion without it hitting them over the head. Good for you and also to review the Web site on a mobile device. I just wish I had one to examine. God bless.

  3. The woe of web site developing is that the people writing the code often succeed in presenting a page with too many parameters and meta tags. w3c insists (and they are right) that simple coding using strict or passive HTML tags is sufficient to achieve the same thing. I use straight HTML and do not use the tag anywhere, and I lay the site out in tables with minimal definitions. I do not restrict the character set to utf-8, but people can read my pages anyway. I also do not use point definitions for fonts, I render them in numbers of pixels, and they are easily readable. I use a light background with black type, but break it up with colors. In this way, I create easy to code pages which still function normally. All those extra lines of code are rife with potential errors which can take weeks to correct, while I can see what I’m doing from line to line. There is the difference.

    1. You hold so much more knowledge about technical items than I do. How wonderful. I wish I had that kind of expertise in these matters. God bless you.

  4. Apparently the tag I was trying to exemplarize was the (div) tag, but it did not show up in my comment.

  5. I use my WordPress blog as my website. I keep it simple so I can do everything myself, and I’m quite happy with it.

    1. I am thinking of doing the same. WordPress is easy to use, and I like being able to change things on my own. At one time, I had someone else manage my site, and I had to constantly ask her to make changes. God bless you.

  6. ronfritsch says:

    I think the best advice in this post and the comments is to keep the website straightforward and simple. Clever, attention-getting ideas for websites usually end up confusing the visitor, and that’s a no-no. It took me a lot of time and effort to learn how to make changes on my website, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    1. You are right, Ron. They always say keep it simple, stupid and the same goes for this. Have the rest of a great day and many of the Lord’s blessings to you.

  7. Vernie Dale says:

    When faced with so many websites that are rife with confusing bells and whistles, it’s refreshing to hear the message: keep it simple. Of course, not being a techy person, I have no choice! : )

    1. ronfritsch says:

      Me, too.

    2. You are right. That techy stuff is not for me either. Have a great day and many of the Lord’s blessings to you.

  8. M T McGuire says:

    That’s excellent advice. Bookmarked.

    Cheers

    MTM

    1. Thank you, M T McGuire. I appreciate that. Many of the Lord’s blessings to you.

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