Most websites are uninspired places, unnatural habitats, eerily void of style and personality. This is largely because they are made by novices, committees or programmers rather than collaboration between designers, artists, photographers, and writers, the only people we to trust with our stories.

 

An engaging website requires seven things:

 

• Thoughtful architecture for overall design, theme, content and flow.

   Know what you want to accomplish from the get-go and stay true

   to your vision. 

 

• Professional logo/banner complimenting the design.

 

• Expert copywriting, design, graphics and photography. 

  Please never use work from others without their permission. 

 

• Easy to reference phone number, email, social media links

 

• The distinct personality of the business, nonprofit, organization, or individual

   represented.

 

• Consistency, consistency, consistency in look and voice.

 

• Time and plenty of it. There's no such thing as a weekend website. Invest  

   the time in crafting a place you want to be. This usually means paying  

   someone else to do it for you - and that someone else, no matter how

   expert, also needs time. 

 

 

Even when you have invested in a gorgeous, engaging, highly functional website, it will not get you business any more than a Ferrari, locked in a garage, transports you to where you want to go.

 

Unless you already have name recognition and a well established web presence, along with a generous budget to invest in search engine optimization (SEO) marketing and publicity, your website supports your promotional activities. It enhances your credibility and desirability. It makes it a easier for people to refer others to you - but you still have to get out there and sell yourself. And that's a whole new topic for discussion.

 

I work with people who want to tell a good story. People with something to say. People who appreciate that skillful storytelling takes time. It’s an evolutionary process, with little respect for modern sensibilities like deadlines and wonky technology. The best websites are an ongoing, evolutionary process, handled by a single person, preferably the individual who originally designs your website.

 

I work with people I admire. People I genuinely love to spend time with. People who want to be the star of your own well-lived life. People who see things differently.

After years of research and more than a few false starts, I chose Jimdo as my website building/hosting partner. I recommend Jimdo Pro and Jimdo Business. In spite of what they tell you on the package, you'll need about eight weeks to make something worthwhile, but you'll have set yourself up with an excellent partner. They do the coding while you focus on content. This said, if you're not a highly experienced designer, copywriter, photographer, artist et al. you definitely require professional help. A DIY website looks like a DIY website. The world doesn’t need more of those.

 

 

I've hosted Lovers Kitchen for many years using Google's Blogger, even though Lovers Kitchen is my book sampler and not a blog. If you're interested in writing a regular online column, take a look Blogger

 

Blogging doesn't require you to host a two way conversation, unless you want to. Loads of writers use blogging software to tell stories instead of building websites. While this offered all sorts of advantages a few years back, now website making software is often friendlier than blogging software. Naturally, the format you choose depends on what you want to say.

 

WordPress is hugely popular with writers, though in spite of buying two books to master it, I gave up. To get the look I want with WordPress requires substantially more time than I'm prepared to invest.

 

 

Twitter's About.Me is for people who want a web presence without a lot of fuss. You need a Twitter account to set it up. You also need at least one terrific graphic image. See screenshot above. The domain name looks like this, except it will be your name after the About Me part, not mine: About.Me/MarshaCoupe.

 

You can customize About.Me with your own domain name for about $50 a year, half the price of the typical DIY website. Have a look at how others are using About.Me to see if it's worth considering for yourself.

Most people use About.Me to feature a short bio and links to their social media and portfolio. It doesn't offer the depth of a true website, but if you only require a single dazzling page, this might be it.

 

Squarespace offers exceptionally elegant options for making a website. I find the software more complicated than Jimdo, but if you're a highly visual person wanting a clean, sleek, modern website, it's worth the effort.

 

If you're a creative in the visual arts, Adobe is another option to consider for your website. Though usually tied into renting a bunch of software, you can go for the website only option for about $120 a year. Naturally it helps if you're already used to working with Adobe software. 

 

Click on the cork boards below to sample some of the websites I've created. The first four were made using Jimdo along with my own website.

 

I made my first website fourteen years ago. It took three solid months and cost four times the price for a similar website today. $25,000K versus $7,500K. Hosting fees were ten times the cost they are now. Viva Evolution!

 

Click images below to visit some of my favourite websites.

 

Marsha Coupe
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