Nadia Lee | NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author of Contemporary Romance » Blog Archive » Identifying Your Site’s Purpose and Audience, Go-Live Date, Your Budget, and Your Technical Aptitude
Identifying Your Site’s Purpose and Audience, Go-Live Date, Your Budget, and Your Technical Aptitude

This is the first article of the month of September. I’ll be discussing how to hire a web designer, esp. after having done it once. :) I didn’t do all these things, and I wish I had.

These days, it looks like every writer, aspiring or otherwise, has a website and/or blog. Here’s what Kristin Nelson has to say about author sites & blogs:

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a good website, with solid content, if you are going to have one at all. More on this in a minute.

If you don’t have a website, that’s fine too. I’ll still ask for a full manuscript if I like the sample pages enough. There are pros and cons to footing the bill of a website before you are even published so don’t stress about it or run out and get one right now because I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary.

But if you do have a website or blog and you are currently looking for an agent, or to make your first sale, or what have you, I can offer a couple of words of advice.

Don’t have a website/blog unless it can be a professional one. The homemade sites look it and just make me cringe. It won’t keep me from asking for your full (or if I like the novel, offering representation) but it’s not putting your best foot forward and that’s never a benefit.

I don’t think Kristin’s opinion is unusual. My own agent told me the same thing.

Anyway, let’s say that you can’t design your own website for various reasons. What should you do? Should you go out and just hire the first designer you find?

Before you ask for a quote from a designer, you must identify the following:

  1. The purpose of your website
  2. Your audience
  3. Go-live date
  4. Your budget
  5. Your technical aptitude (your familiarity with HTML, PHP, JavaScript, CSS, Photoshop, etc.)
1. The Purpose of Your Website

It’s incredible how so many people never consider why they have a website. Don’t have one just so you can tell everyone you have one.

What are you trying to do with your website? Are you unpublished and trying to showcase your commitment and projects? Are you contracted for a book and trying to attract readers? Are you published and use your site for self-promo?

Know why you need a website. It’ll save you a lot of time and money.

2. Your Audience

This is so important. If you’re an unpublished writer trying to land an agent, your audience will be different from a New York Times bestselling author.

3. Go-Live Date

You must know when your site is going to go live. Good designers are very busy, and they have a waiting list. Obviously the longer you can wait, the more designer choices you will have.

4. Your Budget

You must know how much you’re willing to spend. Or else you’ll end up spending more than you should. (This is something I learned from my years in consulting.)

5. Your Technical Aptitude

If just reading the terms “HTML”, “PHP”, “DB”, “CSS”, etc. makes your eyes glaze over, you shouldn’t be coding your own site, unless you plan to devote the next six months to mastering programming, etc.

Also, this may mean you need to hire someone to maintain your site for you after it’s been professionally designed and launched. Do not try to do it yourself if you honestly don’t feel confident about it. Sooner or later, you’ll break the entire site layout.

That’s it for this week.

Any questions, comments, tips, etc.? Feel free to share. Next week, I’ll talk about identifying your website needs and design preferences, a.k.a. doing your homework.

4 comments to “Identifying Your Site’s Purpose and Audience, Go-Live Date, Your Budget, and Your Technical Aptitude”

  1. Carol
    · September 2nd, 2008 at 2:17 am · Link

    Hi Nadia. I liked the article. Do you have any advice on how to find the web designer that’s right for your needs? For that matter, don’t some web designers take care of the maintanance also? I’m curious about the price ranges for maintanance, but I guess that would depend on individual designers. At any rate, whether you did all the things on the list or not, I think your own site has a great design. :)

  2. Jennifer McKenzie
    · September 2nd, 2008 at 4:10 am · Link

    This is very timely. The person who does my website has been awesome but she’s very very busy now and it’s NOT her career. I’m probably going to have to find someone else to work with.
    These are good things to consider.

  3. Shonna Brannon
    · September 2nd, 2008 at 5:40 am · Link

    That was a very very good article and very true too.

    Carol, some designers do maintenance also. As for price, personally I base mine on how much the author will generally update over the course of a year. Someone who hasn’t been pubbed or newly pubbed and isn’t going to be doing a ton of updates, I charge $30 to $50. If the author is going to be doing a ton of updates or if it is a different business all together, I charge $100. Both of those prices are for a year’s worth of updates.

  4. Nadia Lee
    · September 2nd, 2008 at 2:21 am · Link

    Hi Carol,

    I’ll be posting about that later this month. So tune in! :)


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