Websites - Ugghhh!
Now that you have somewhat of an idea about the time and money building a website entails, I want to give you a wakeup call. When I said this process was going to take time, I was NOT kidding. If you happen to be a literate computer user, you can probably skip this section. After all, URL’s, hyperlinks, WPP’s, bitmaps and wrapping text may be second nature to some people. But for me, it was like learning a whole new language.
As I said in the last post, I decided to go with Microsoft Office FrontPage to design my site. Not only did it receive good ratings from the computer literate friends I talked to beforehand, but the tutorial on the FrontPage website left me feeling pretty confident. That is until I started downloading the software onto my computer. That’s where the troubles began and my aggravation accelerated from there.
I was able to get a really good price on the program because my husband was currently going to college and was able to buy it through them. What I didn’t know was that you only get the disk. That means NO books came with it…. No problem, I thought. I’ll just buy that neat little dummies book. How hard could it be???
Ha. Hind sight is amazing. I spent four aggravating days trying to read through the book and find the sections I needed while matching them up with the program. This is where that foreign language thing is so prominent. I would look up the sections I thought I needed, only to be referred somewhere else. Maybe if I’d had the original user’s manual, I wouldn’t have had the headache I did. But I didn’t have the original manual and being the impatient person I am, I wanted this done right now.
I finally had to enlist the help of one of my friends. She helped me get my basic site set up using one of the templates. Which, I should have started with in the first place – but, being the novice that I was, I thought creating a whole new page would be easier than changing the settings on a preformed one. Like I said - hind sight.
I won’t get into everything I did to build the site. That explanation would turn into a book itself. But I did want to highlight some of the things I leaned during the process. First of all, there are a ton of really cool pictures out there. The problem is, you have to have permission to use them. The PRO Career series booklet on the RWA site guides you to some places where you can download graphics and pictures for free. Of course, there are all kinds of rules and regulations on how they can be used, so you need to really look into that carefully. A couple of my favorite sites are Photobucket, Istock Photos and YouTube.
Second, you really need to match your site to what you are currently writing. I absolutely love the dark feel and vivid colors of Rita Herron’s site. But, I don’t write suspense books. At least not yet. Of course, I also love the flirty feel of Trish Milburn’s site, but don't write young adult. I knew my current writing style was leaning more towards the sexier Blaze styles, so that’s the feeling I tried to convey with my choices. I started of by picking one of my most favorite colors – green – and built from there. I actually fell in love with Jennifer LeBrecque's website and ended up using hers as a basic model for mine.
Finally, you have to understand that all computers are not alike. Ugghh!!! This was one of the hardest lessons for me to learn. My friend and I spent hours getting the site set up on my computer. We added just the right texts and layered in pictures and graphics; only to find out that it didn’t work when we viewed it on her computer. After what seems like hours to download (all those really cool pictures and fonts) on her computer, we had to use the scroll buttons to move from right to left to view certain paragraphs. That was a pain in itself. But when my bold, sexy fonts turned into chunky block style letters, I wanted to pull my hair out. It was back to the drawing board. We had to cut the page down so it could be viewed on other types of settings more easily, find a font that was somewhat common and figure out what colors will look good on most computers…
None of this was in my original plans, but I’m actually pleased with the way it all came together. My website is a work in progress. It’s a visual template. As I figure out my way in this alien world of writing, I’m editing the site just as I would edit one of my manuscripts. Eventually, I hope the world loves it as much as I am beginning to.
Friday I will have another guest blogger with another view on creating a website. If you have any questions for any of us on this subject, feel free to leave a comment. Have a great day!