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Writing Non-Fiction
because I say so
Thursday, 14 August 2014
Oh the Digital World
Topic: Writing and Marketing

 

My website sucks.

From a marketing perspective, this is probably not information I ought to be sharing. True, given the public nature of the web, it's not like I could really expect to be keeping the site's suckiness a secret.

Let me give you an example: I just visited the site this morning and under the banner heading "Latest News" it describes my appearance to speak at a September event.

A September 2013 event.

This isn't to say that I haven't done anything to do with my writing in nearly a year. I have. Maybe it hasn't been my most active year but I have spoken at a few events, been at book festivals, etc. But I haven't publicized them at all. Apart from the blog portion of the site, which up until recently at least had weekly updated content, the website hasn't been changed. It's embarrassing enough that I'm thinking I should remove the feature that indicates when the site was last updated.

If only I could remember how.

At some point I have mentioned (see what I mean? the site is even un-search-friendly!) what I believe to be a pretty important piece of advancing my marketing: a new, much more frequently website. The difficulty lies in that the platform of my site is pretty limiting, even though I'm paying for the somewhat better performing version.

Here's what I do like about it: it's easy to use. For you young 'uns out there, raised since birth in the ways of the world wide web, it may seem difficult to comprehend that there are people out there who are not well schooled in the language of htmlFlash and whatever else modern websites use to create visually stunning interfaces to connect with web surfers. My site is a template and when I want to add new text, for example, I simply press the big button that says 'Add it Here.'

I also don't actually have to keep any files on my computer that need to be uploaded. Maybe that's old school but my first website was really just a series of Word pages that were uploaded and formed the pages of site. There was a certain ease to its simplicity and while it wasn't pretty, at the time it didn't need to be, its primary purpose being to inform my then students of the work they needed to complete in order to be fine young academics.

But that meant I always had to have those files with me: if I needed to update something and was at a different office, or using a different computer, I had to either reproduce the files from scratch or wait until later. Yes, in today's cloud and Dropbox world, keeping files with you is much easier than ever before.

For a disorganized person that can be brutal.

It's also clunky.

So far, I've found that the particular platform I use within my web host - there are a few of them - doesn't always play nicely with whatever computer or device I happen to be using. True, my laptop, for example, is a bit dated - purchased at the tail end of 2006 - but for word processing, it really does do the job and I'm still kind of attached to him...err...it. But posting even just to the blog is limited: if I use Firefox it will mostly cooperate, but even then occasionally the formatting can be a bit of a mess.

Even when I use my newer desktop iMac, Tripod's occasional unwillingness to be accommodating can be quite frustrating.

Worst of all is working with my iPad. If you're a regular reader you know I'm not infrequently writing from some locale other than home, be it the coffee shop or a hotel room. At the coffee shop, well, at least I can come home and post the column later on one of the aforementioned computers. But on the road? It's darned near unworkable. If you were to scroll back through previous entries you'd find the column posted while I was in Costa Rica via my iPad was a formatting nightmare on which I eventually gave up. It stands out like a digital sore thumb from the standard formatting with which the rest of my columns are adorned.

Maybe it's a Mac thing, you suggest?

Maybe but if that's the case I'm not okay with it. I'll change web hosts long before I give up OS for Windows. Besides, the site builder can be pretty clunky on my Lenovo laptop necessitated by the day job, though I can hardly blame Tripod for that: our ancient old systems up until this summer were running XP.

Bottom line: I need advice on the simplest, most efficient but slickest web hosting platforms to improve and upgrade my site and this is where you come in. At the risk of unleashing the hounds of the Internet, I'm looking for recommendations. So far I have been pretty impressed with the looks of Wix and Weebly, though I've read good and bad reviews for both. Here's essentially what I want:

  • ease of use (i.e. I can to it from anywhere without having to cart files around with me)
  • nice looking templates from which to choose
  • not outrageously expensive, though I'm willing to pay
  • one platform fits all - I don't want to have to build a separate site for mobile devices
  • ability to change design templates periodically
  • must be able to host pdf documents so I can have scripts or other samples of writing posted
  • video capabilities is ideal but not a deal breaker
  • a blog - naturally

And with that, I ask your advice. Any suggestions people have are super welcome.

Even better if you know people who'd just like to make it for me!

Next week: more adventures in writing as a team


Posted by davidrussellbc at 4:39 PM PDT
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