Website Design Basics: Part 3 of 5
(Sorry for the upload error with the first attempt to publish this.)
After you’ve decided, based on your budget and your needs, what kind of web presence you’ll have, how you’ll have it hosted, and who will design it, you need to decide on the crucially important name or title for your site.
I say this is crucially important because it has to do with branding. If you don’t know about branding, you can check some of the posts here at Sling Words about the subject. Plug that word into your favorite search engine to research it more in depth. Suffice it to say that branding is creating a label for you and/or your site. You want everything to tie together so that when one hears your name or your tag line then they immediately think about you and your product.
Learn From My Mistakes
All this is something I didn’t know when I first started establishing a web presence. Get ahead of the game and do it the right way, from a marketing standpoint, from the beginning. I’m glad for you to learn from my mistakes.
In the case of a novelist who will publish books under his or her name, more than likely you want a website in your name so you’ll register a domain name that way. Hopefully, your name isn’t already taken and you can get your dot com. If someone already has registered your name, then you’ll have a tough decision. Do you go with the dot net registration or try for a version of your name or your name with something added to it as the dot com?
Just about everybody who’s a frequent Internet user knows about the various dot extensions yet we all automatically plug in dot com. In fact, I even have to consciously think to plug in dot net or dot biz. It’s like that first law of marketing: it’s best to be first. First becomes part of the culture. That’s why dot com is automatic when someone says, “Check my site out on the web.”
So, check with Who Is for domain registration to see if your name is available. There are a lot of bargain domain registration sites. (Just Google to find some if you are unfamiliar with them.) Wherever you register your domain name, be sure you sign up for automatic fee renewal each year. It would be a shame to lose the name because you forgot to pay the annual renewal fee.
If your name’s available, grab it asap even if you plan to set up a blog first rather than a website. Maybe even register every version - dot com, dot net, etc. Once you get the website set up, you can set up an email using that name i.e. jennifer @ jenniferwriter dot com. In the meantime, set up a Yahoo or other email addy: jenniferwriter @ yahoo.com.
Get Set Up
Set up your blog with your name also if you want and choose a catchy tagline for your website and blog. If you want a colorful blog title instead, make the tagline something like “the Blog of Jennifer Writer.” Always remember: you are marketing a product. If you want to use a separate email for your blog registration, then make it the blog name @ your domain or @ yahoo. Make all the titles work together whether they’re your domain name or a substitute, and put links on each to the other.
What kind of substitute name can you use if your domain name is already taken? If Jennifer Writer is taken then how about Jennifer middle initial or name Writer dot com? Or JenniferWritesBooks dot com? Jennifer Writes Mystery dot com? Or Novelist Jennifer Writer dot com?
1. Use your imagination.
2. Don’t make it too long. Shorter is better in the domain naming world.
3. Don’t use symbols like the underscore to separate names i.e. Joan_Reeves.com that make it hard to read when it’s in a clickable link. When links get underlined, they obscure the underscore. Everyone who has ever used the Internet and email know that names and words run together. Your eye gets used to seeing joanreeves and knowing it says Joan Reeves.
4. Don't use more than 1 dash or hyphen.
5. Make it easy to spell and pronounce.
6. Try to be intuitive in titling. If someone is looking for you, what would they most likely put into a search engine? If you choose to pick a colorful name, be sure it lends itself to appropriate marketing in all kinds of venues. Try to get something that won’t offend more than it attracts.
Once you’ve settled on a name, extend the brand to email, blogs, etc., put links in your signature line for email. Have cards printed with your brand on it. Use your web addresses anyway you can.
Look for Part 4 of Website Design Basics: Content, later this week.
Branding, or naming and using that name repeatedly, is a fundamental goal in marketing you and your business whether that business is writing or something else. Choose your brand name carefully.