Jo-Anne Vandermeulen

"Journey to Publication"

JO-ANNE VANDERMEULEN: HOW TO DESIGN A PRODUCTIVE BLOG/WEBSITE



Congratulations! You have taken the first step in BUILDING AN AUTHOR PLATFORM. (See Dec. 29 Blog Post “SO YOU WANT YOUR BOOK TO SELL?”)

STEP #1

To increase traffic to your site:

Request for your FREE: JO-ANNE VANDERMEULEN: 13 TIPS ON BUILDING AN AUTHOR PLATFORM


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STEP #2

To attract an audience to your site:

Request for your FREE: JO-ANNE VANDERMEULEN: SELF-PROMOTION-
9 ESSENTIAL DESIGN TIPS FOR YOUR SITE
Why pay for a professional designer when
*** You can do this yourself. ***




SELF-PROMOTION: NINE ESSENTIAL DESIGN TIPS FOR YOUR SITE
With: JO-ANNE VANDERMEULEN – PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT NETWORK FOR WRITERS AND ONE OF THE INDUSTRY’S TOP PROMOTERS



1.) Title Your Niche. Your audience must know what the site is about in seconds. Remember, the secret is to be quick and user friendly.
>Speed and Easy<

Example: Title: JO-ANNE VANDERMEULEN’S BLOG
Niche: PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT NETWORK FOR WRITERS
Brand: “Conquer All Obstacles”

Caution: Stay away from the paragraphs of explanation or introductions. Do not annoy the audience or have them ‘work’ for the content they are about to receive. You may have a lot of credentials but only promote on topic. Example: I have a B.Ed. Degree, but listing that right now won’t promote my site. Rather, list information relevant to the promotional item. Hook the audience with the unique content immediately.

2.) Stay away from paragraph and long sentences. Make the content scannable so your audience can filter your information quickly.

Example: Use bullet points, headers, subheaders, lists. Anything that will help the audience filter what they are looking for.

Caution: Avoid long pages. Absolutely no horizontal scrolling. And be consistent in your format but scramble the presentation a tad. Example: Don’t have lists in every blog.

3.) Again, use simple large fonts that are readable.

Example: Times New Roman – 12 font size.

Caution: Cute doesn’t cut it. Do not use fancy fonts. Avoid underlining text and using different colors.

4.) Clean, crisp sites are attractive and allows for the audience to focus on the content.

Example: White backgrounds with black print. Think of calming colors for around your border.

Caution: Do not use harsh vibrant colors. You’ll want the audience to stay as long as possible.

5.) Keep the widgets to a minimum and avoid badges.

Example: List the maximum of five categories and the past ten post titles. Think of short and sweet. Assume your audience won’t scroll down.

Caution: More doesn’t necessarily mean better.

6.) Show content first. Assume the audience won’t search for your information.

Example: My first page is my blog content. I have visual tabs listing ‘All About Me’, and “Contact” page. If you want to generate discussion and audience participation, then make each comment visible right under each post. This is where you will receive valuable feedback.

Caution: If your audience doesn’t feel like they are contributing, they are likely to leave and may never return. Don’t come across as controlling. Allow them to push the buttons and contribute. This is where you may want to include the words: “invite”, “welcome”, and ask questions or advice without sounding less than an expert.

7.) List functional pages as visible tabs. Again at the bottom of the page (footer), is a great idea.

Example: Bio (All About Me), Content (Blog Post), Advertising (Book Cover and Preview), and Contact (Exactly how to get a hold of you) Pages.

Caution: No pull down. Don’t hide important information. We don’t want our audience having to search for information.

8.) Make all information you provide easy to find by including a ‘Search’ button. Make sure the audience can search the entire site.

Example: I use a google search button. Improve navigation.

9.) Provide tags and links. Make links visible and contrasting colors (even underline) so your audience will click this easily.

Example: I link keywords, then add these same words as ‘tags’.

Caution: Don’t re-link words. Once is enough. Any more will hinder your links rather than help.


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BONUS TIPS:
***You may need assistance***

When hiring a professional, make sure they include these 12 points:


1.) Do not overuse Flash: Slows down the loading of your first page
2.) Do not play music:
3.) If you MUST play an audio file let the user start it: Just make sure that the user is in control.
4.) Do not break the “Back” button: this is a very basic principle of usability. Do not break the “Back” button under any circumstance. Opening new browser windows will break it, for instance, and some Javascript links might also break them.
5.) Do not use blinking text:
6.) Avoid “drop down” menus: Don’t hide the information or have the audience search.
7.) Do not blend advertising inside the content: Your audience will eventually get annoyed and leave forever.
8.) Use a simple navigation structure: KISS. Keep a single, clear navigation structure. Don’t confuse your audience.
9.) Do not use FrontPage: this point extends to other cheap HTML editors. While they appear to make web design easier, the output will be a poorly crafted code, incompatible with different browsers and with several bugs.
10.) Make sure your website is cross-browser compatible: not all browsers are created equal, and not all of them interpret CSS and other languages on the same way. Like it or not, you will need to make your website compatible with the most used browsers on the market, else you will lose readers over the long term.
11.) Make sure to include anchor text on links: I confess I used to do that mistake until some time ago. It is easier to tell people to “click here”. But this is not efficient. Make sure to include a relevant anchor text on your links. It will ensure that the reader knows where he is going to if he clicks the link, and it will also create SEO benefits for the external site where the link is pointing.
12.) If you use CAPTCHA to avoid spam, make sure the letters are readable: There is just one problem with it, most of the times the user needs to ‘ask jeeves’ to decipher the letters.

Good luck and please comment back on the blog what worked for you. We’d love to hear back from you.

Jo-Anne Vandermeulen
Owner and Manager of
Premium Promotional Services
http://www.premiumpromotions.biz

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