Continuing the Build Your Own Website discussion over at the SCBWI message board. We've already discussed WHO you're doing it for ... and we've had a look at the platforms; AND we've talked about blogging ... or not. Now you've got your blog/website, how do you design it so people do what you want them to do?When you come upon a new website, how many seconds do you hang around before moving to another site? Why do you stay?
Web guru Seth Godin says (and I paraphrase) people on web pages are like monkeys in search of bananas. If they find no bananas, they don't hang around. They just leave.
Check out the design of one of the internet's most successful start-ups, Amazon. The biggest banana of course is the book cover (yeah, why not sneak in a plug about Tall Story, while I'm at it?). But Amazon makes sure to put a bright yellow button on the top right to make it absolutely clear what you should do about the big banana.
|The banana is that blue box with the bright yellow button.|
Amazon wants you to buy this book. So do I.
And another thing: make sure the bananas are on EVERY PAGE of your website.
A lot of newbies think they only need to load their bananas on the front page of their website.
Well, I've got news for you. On the internet, there is no front page.
Remember the hyper in hyperlink? Hyperlinking means that a punter could arrive at any page of your webstie while wandering around Google. Which means every page of your website is a landing page.
This is why most blogs and web-builders provide sidebar elements that appear on every single page of your site. The next time you are playing around with your blog and considering whether to add that cool new blinking bat widget to the sidebar - think hard about bananas.
But do you know what your bananas are?
Here are some typical bananas that authors and authors-in-waiting might use (illustrators, you might have to extrapolate):
1 Buy my book (whether you want to or not)
2 Find out more about my book (then buy it)
3 Read my blog (and love me).
4 Read about me (and love me).
5 Find out about my latest successes (and buy my book)
6 Read my reviews (and buy my book or at least be jealous)
7 For god's sake, leave a comment (I need you and love you)
8 Sign up as a follower so I don't look lonely (I need you and love you and otherwise I might kill myself)
9 Notice how brilliant my writing is (linking to excerpts)
10 Notice how fascinating and wonderful I am (linking to About me page)
11 Contact me and offer me a deal (ambitious but deluded)
12 Buy my book (wait ... I've already said that).
So let me show you how I applied it to my own website:
Of course having said all that about bananas, one must exercise great care in applying bananas to one's site. Too many bananas may have the opposite effect of driving traffic away.
|Photo by Photobunny Earl on Flickr|