Thinking About a Website? This Might Be the Time.
There will be a secondary page for all the articles I've written on bookselling. And finally, a contact page, which will include information translated into a number of languages. The content for a website can be roughed out in simple outline form, like an upside-down tree with the root (Home Page) at the top and the branches (pages and subsidiary pages) at the bottom. You can do this with no software design experience.
We are planning to have the site designed in standard HTML with CSS (cascading style sheets) which will give us maximum flexibility in the design of the site, as well as ease of updating (not to mention that the site can then be maintained by ANY qualified web designer).
We have thought about colors (something easy on the eyes; no primary colors). We've considered where to use mouseovers (where text changes or appears when a mouse rolls over it). We are considering whether to have excerpts from our published books and in what format (not a big fan of .pdf files on a website unless absolutely necessary). We are still wondering if we should have any Macromedia Flash objects (revolving pictures, for example, or images that appear to move). We've been looking at different fonts, although, in the end, fonts are fairly easy to change.
In terms of the contract with our web designer, we prefer one that is not open-ended, which is why it is important to specify as much detail as possible in the contract. I'd rather limit my intravenous donations to those given at blood drives and I don't like big financial surprises.
We have also done due diligence -- checking out the clientele and the previous work done by our designer. As a matter of fact, it was his work on a completely unrelated site that first brought him to our attention.
We've also checked out many, many book sites, noting the features of those that seemed attractive, or ones that were irritating or unnecessary. For us, the process is taking about six months, but it is a process in which we have confidence.
I think the most important thing to remember about website design is that this is not a problem which can be solved simply by throwing money at it. Even if you are not comfortable with computers or Internet technology, you do know your business. If you are thinking about buying some kind of bookselling software system, please think again. You do not want to be at the mercy of a third party company, on which you have become dependent, and which can charge you whatever they wish for subsequent changes or upgrades. Rather than making this choice, you will always be better off keeping it simple, and using the services offered by the mega-sites.