I’ve been setting up websites for myself, family and online contacts for several years. I own quite a few myself, and through the process of trial and error, along with a little research, have come up with the following lists of do’s and don’ts:
- Do have a way for your site visitors to contact you. I’ve placed this first as I have visited many fan sites over the years, and it’s mind-boggling that so many of them have no way at all for any site visitor to get in touch with them. I can understand people not wanting to put their eMail address on their site, as this does attract the hated spammers, but a new, public eMail address or simple contact form may be all that is needed. You can get a free, hosted contact/feedback form at Bravenet, if you are not experienced in setting up your own website scripts or don’t want to have an eMail address posted publicly.
- Do have pages that are easy to navigate. Have your website links on each page, and easy to see as soon as someone visits your site. However, don’t confuse people with too many links! A few simple ones will do, and perhaps more in-depth information can be linked to from your various pages.
- Don’t have too many ads on your page. We all like making money, but half-a-dozen pop-ups, banners and flashing images advertising other people’s stuff will be enough to turn a lot of visitors away very quickly, which is defeating the object! A couple of well-placed and discreet ads per page should be enough. A lot of free hosts bombard perfectly good websites with ads of all descriptions, totally detracting from the content!
- Do, if you can afford it, purchase your own domain name and sign up with a paid host. However, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with free hosting, but do search around for one that won’t place too many ads on your site, for the above reasons.
- Do make sure your website content is well laid out. If you are not experienced in building your own site, there are plenty of free website templates for download around the net. All you need to do is edit the text and add your own images. You can do this with any free HTML editor, and graphics program. A badly designed website won’t hold the attention of your visitors for very long.
- Do make sure your spelling and grammar are correct, and your content and responses to contact are professional and polite, no matter how anyone tries to provoke you. You don’t want to come across as an ill-educated lout! Besides, you’re better than that, aren’t you? 🙂
- Do have lots for your website visitors to do when they visit. All fans of any genre appreciate talking with other like-minded people. A forum, chat room and other interactive facilities will make your site more popular. If you can’t set up your own website apps, there are plenty of free hosted ones available.
- Do keep your website content current, as much as time allows. Websites that are only updated every few years are unlikely to attract new members!
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. A small, easily managed site is better if you have little time, but you may want something a little more complete if you have plenty of time to update it and moderate forums etc.
- Do have a long, hard look at sites that attract you. You shouldn’t copy either design or content, but if you see a site that you like, think about what it is you like about it, and how you can incorporate similar ideas into your own. After all, if these sites capture your attention, they will capture other peoples’!
If you want a website that is easy to update, and has a lot of excellent features that can be added to it very quickly, WordPress is an excellent choice. WordPress is the software that powers this very website, and can be installed automatically on any cPanel host that has Fantastico or some other software installer integrated into it! It may take a while to get to know WordPress, but it’s worth it! There are tons of free plugins and themes available to make your WordPress site even more interactive. There are also simpler content management systems available, whichever you prefer.