Articles

What do I include on my website

Only what matters and supports your reason for being on the web in the first place

I’ve lived a complicated life where I have spent full time as a mom and part time as an artist and part time producing really big events. Or part time as a coach and part time as a writer and part time as a web developer.

I am happy to report that there are no more “also rans” in my life. OK, I’m still a mom, but my kids are old. But now I am ONLY doing web stuff.. new and redeveloped websites. Need one? Check it out.

All of these jobs overlapped, or were the primary focus, at some time in my life.  It suits me just fine. I know how to juggle the balls. But I surely can’t expect other people to get it.  It makes my poor husband’s head spin.  “Pick one,” he says, “then make a lot of money so I can retire.”  Yea, well, we’re working on that.

What happens when you’re not focused?

Every time I went out to do the corporate wife thing (also one of those part time jobs) I’d have to decide on the answer to the “What do you do?” question. Because to admit to doing more than one thing will either make the other person’s eyes glaze over OR they won’t take me seriously regarding anything.

You know, part of the reason that Realtors want you to get rid of personal stuff before you show your house is so that your too-much or too-cool stuff doesn’t distract your potential buyer from doing what they’re supposed to be doing.. LOOKING AT YOUR HOUSE!

If you’re website is for selling books, don’t drift into information about your other business of producing baby showers.  Get another website for that. Websites aren’t so expensive any more. Or at least shouldn’t be.

What does this mean?

Before you ever start the process of designing your site, or talking to a designer, answer this question:

What are your intentions for your site?

This needs to be clear in your mind even before you decide what you want people to do when they’re on your site.

Be specific.

  • “I want to make a lot of money.” … not specific
  • “I want to help mothers have easier lives…” better.. but not quite right

What if you start your thinking with this:

My site will focus on …..  what exactly?

WeFixBrokenWebsites focuses on helping people who want websites ask the best questions of prospective web designers (so they are not at the mercy of bullies who imply that the web is scary and that you need someone to hold your hand all the time.  And there is nothing you can do about that. PFFFT!)

That last part is a rant, in case you weren’t sure. And  I digress, so

What goes on your website?

The answer is the same: Whatever supports your purpose.

  1. Knowing this purpose will help you decide what fits.

    Does a post about flying monkeys fit with your site about national security?  Maybe it does. Who’s to say?
    And maybe it doesn’t and it’s just a short little throw away bit to prove you are a human. BUT if it’s part of your other life where Dorothy rules the world.. Perhaps, You should leave that off of this site.

  2. A clear focus will help you judge the appropriateness of the possible addition to your site.  IF everything on your site is about the color purple.  Think carefully about adding a bunch of other colors, ‘cause just like with colors, too many things in one place turn out to look like mud.
  3. Keep a clear focus  so you don’t confuse your visitors.
    Make it easy for them to stay focused on what they came to your website thinking about.

Bottom line, make it easy for visitors to buy what you’re selling, be it product or idea.

Do you have any other ideas about how to decide what belongs?

Why can’t I just copy and paste my article from Word into my WordPress website?

When a word document is directly imported into a WordPress site, all the formatting that is applied to your article—the italics, font size changes, bullets and numbers that make it look the way you like—come along with the content in little bits of code.

Your website has its own system of consistent formatting in place—called a cascading style sheet because it sets the style for the whole site.  That style sheet makes the headings on all the pages the same color and font, makes the bullets and numbers on every page where you use them have consistent styles, keeps the columns consistent, etc. This is a big piece of what makes your site look cohesive and professional.

When your computer displays any page on the internet, it uses the code that is closest to the content to control that formatting. The code that came over with Word is attached directly to your content—much closer than the style sheet of the site. Therefore, Word controls the look of that page.

Here’s why that’s a problem.

Pretend you decide to change the color of all the headings on your site, say from black to blue.

If you let the website style sheet control the look of your site, then that change to the color of ALL your headings, is literally a change to one number on one page.

If however, you have copied your content from Word, then that one number has to be changed on every single page and at every single place on the page where the original color was designated.

THAT takes a lot more time. And will cost you a lot more money!

You are most probably NOT doing your web designer any favors by supplying long MSWord articles with lots of formatting because before the content can be posted, the code must be cleaned up before the new styles can be implemented.

What to do?

Supply your articles in plain text. Save as a .txt file using Notepad, for example.

If you’re going to make your own posts,

  • open your text editor (probably Notepad)
  • copy the Word document into the text file,
  • It’s also a good idea to turn off the Word wrap function found on the Format tab. (You’ll wind up with a couple of very long sentences. Don’t try to read them.
  • Just copy that text file and paste into WordPress.
  • THEN put your formatting in place using the buttons that are very similar to the buttons on Word’s formatting tool bar.

PS. If you know WordPress you may argue that there is a button that appropriately  imports an MSWord document or that SOME people don’t have this problem. HOWEVER, even using that function, often a great deal of cleanup is required. So I say, “Don’t use it!”

Paragraphs on the web and elsewhere

ptcruiserEver notice how sometimes you start thinking about something and then you see it everywhere? You know, you think you like PT Cruisers when there are none. You buy one and BAM! they’re everywhere?  OK, maybe not today, but so it was when I got mine!

I wrote yesterday about writing for the web in response to an edit I did on client’s new blog. (Na, I don’t want to share whose it was.  Seems unkind. And I am not unkind!)

Anyway, then today I found a great piece called The Art of the Paragraph over CopyBlogger (My favorite place to find great info about writing for the web). Check out the article by Jonathan Morrow.

And notice particularly how short his paragraphs are. And how much white space there is. And the great subheads that make you want to know what he’s talking about next.

What goes on the Contact Us page

Perhaps one of the most important pages on your website (and the easiest to write!) is your Contact page.

Contact Us—Me—or just plain Contact.

It doesn’t matter. But if your visitors can’t contact you
they can’t buy what you’re selling.

Without a way to contact you, you have no opportunity for connection.

Connection happens for a host of reasons, like a shared history or common ideas or values. And connection is required before trust is ever possible.

So include—obviously:

  • Your name
  • Your geographical address. If it makes you queasy to include a street address, then at least include a city, state and zip.
  • A phone number for people who prefer voice to the written word.
    If you use SKYPE, you could include that contact info. Or if you use some other contact system like Google Voice (like I do) include that.

  • Links to your Twitter and FaceBook pages—IF you want random, and possibly unknown, people to know that much about you.

noticeofrant

A short note about FaceBook, Twitter and even your blog in general.
Take some care in your postings. Future clients or employers WILL look you up. What will they find? Hourly updates about your drinking or clock watching will give some people pause when considering your suitability to their organization

endofrant

  • You need a contact form. You could include just your email address, but I don’t recommend it for a couple reasons
  1. Spam robots have a habit of trolling websites and adding your info to massive lists and then use them to send you multitudinous offers to buy performance enhancing drugs or Rolex watches (and I will NEVER understand that attraction!)
  2. Some people are not real good about their subject lines. So they might include no subject, or “hello” or something else that does not scream, “I am contacting you because of your website.” When you use a bit of code (no, you don’t have to write it yourself) you can decide exactly what the subject line should say. Use different subjects for different forms. And never miss an important email again.

Hey, check out my contact form.  And use it!

Finding your ideal client

Who are the people who will visit your website and value your content?

Say you sell shoes on the web. Who is your client?  Anybody?

Probably not.  Not if you want to be really successful.  If you tried to sell all kinds of shoes to all kinds of people, you’d have a heck of a time managing your stock and your site.  So you have to find a niche, a specific group of people you are committed to serving.

So you think about the people who buy shoes on the web. They do so for lots of different reasons. Maybe they hate shopping in stores. Maybe they don’t have the time. Maybe they have hard to fit feet.  Got really narrow feet? You go to TheNarrowShoe.com They sell shoes for narrow feet.  You tell your friends with narrow feet to go there because they have exactly what you’re looking for.

Your ideal client

That’s the person you really want to do business with, the person you want to read your site, and the person you want to buy your products and services. I’m guessing you’ll actually LIKE this person if you met them on the street.

Then describe your idea client—in detail.  Heck, find a picture of someone who looks like your ideal client. Write a short bio. Give the client a name.  Then write your content like you are speaking to that person.

It will keep your message clear and your voice consistent.

For example: In my coaching business, Map the Future,  I like working with engineers and geeks. People who get the straight line but also have the creativity to move it around a little. [Please note: I’m not coaching any more. But the example still has value.]

Here is my ideal coaching client:

Pete, works for a tech company. Loves what he does. And takes pleasure in saying the most with the fewest words. He wants to be taken seriously as a part of the team. And he wants to have fun doing it. Sometimes he’s seen as a clown. But he knows his stuff. He also knows he’s making some decisions that aren’t getting him what he wants.  He’d like to be able to identify them quickly so he can either fix them or keep from making them again. He has some money. He is obviously fluent in technology and wants to find outside help that other people he knows maybe don’t know about. He doesn’t want to work with a tool. I am not a tool!

For great information about how to create your own profile, check out the article, How to Create Reader Profiles/Personas to Inspire and Inform Your Blogging over at ProBlogger.net

What goes on your About page

Now, I’m willing to consider—perhaps—that this is true mostly for women, but guys, please play along.  Here’s the question:

How many times have you gone out to buy something and then didn’t just because the sales person was a jerk? Or too pushy? Or too uninterested? Or too busy with someone else to even answer a freakin’ question?

Maybe you did buy something this time, but you’re never gonna go back.

It might not be the case if you’re shopping big box stores where the only thing that matters is the price.

But if you are looking for something special or slightly out of the ordinary, you might need some help making a choice… and that’s when the sale is all about the relationship.

And that is precisely what your About page is for.

It’s not a sales page or an opportunity to give more information about why your visitor should buy your product. This is the page to build relationship with your customers.

Personally, I don’t care if any given merchant loves dogs … unless I’m buying a dog product.  I don’t care if they have kids … again, unless it’s important to the product. Similarly, I don’t need to see a list of all the degrees they ever got. (Years ago, I had a minister friend who said, “Well, thermometers have a lot of degrees, too. And you know where they stick some of them!”)  Look, I want to know that my doctor has the appropriate degrees.  But I don’t care how long it took him to get them. Or how many he has… as long as he listens when I talk and shows me some respect and compassion. And that, friends, is all about the relationship.

But in particular, because I’m looking to buy something (or even spend my time reading a website) then I want to know what the person behind the ideas stands for.

So when you’re thinking about what to put on your About page ask yourself a couple of questions.

  • What do you stand for?
  • Where is your passion for the information you share on your website?

Do you have other questions you think should be answered on an About page?  Please share them in the comments area below.

Samples of my work

-1- coffee javajackpot
RoastedTuesday.com
home site
RoastedTuesday.com/javajackpot
associated blog
-2- circle
ADHD Coaches Organization
home site
ADHD Coaches Organization
monthly newsletter
-3-
Handel Choir of Baltimore
Test site
OperaBaltimore
Home site
-4- novontiblog
MicheleNovotni.com
home site
MicheleNovotni.com/blog
associated blog
-5-
CHADD-Maryland Counties
home site
Tigers East/Alpines East
home site
-6- mtf a map in my own mind
MaptheFuture.com
home site
MaptheFuture.com/blog
associated blog