Monday, June 02, 2008

Web Sites/Sights


A view of "Cemetery Hill" -- a place that figures in the WIP. I should go back there on a gloomy day.


You know how it is.

While swooping through someone's web site intent on some small morsel of information -- like a lake gull after a lost french fry in the park -- some unrelated tidbit registers on your mind 's eye and you think ( to steal a phrase from the SB's) whoa and damn.

One such site included photos related to/drawn from landscapes on which that writer's current novel is based.

The implied reality of the fantasy intrigued me -- though I'm a long way from the necessity of a web site -- so I thought I'd throw it out in case anyone might want to consider doing the same.

I suppose providing photos in this manner is really just an extension of the aid to visualization/story-boarding method some writers use in the process of plotting their novels, but it would provide variety to the obligatory photos of the authors, their dogs, cats, kids, anacondas, occasional husbands/wives, and shots of the local scenery.

All of which are very nice, let me hasten to add.

According to what I've read, many readers absolutely despise visual overload, flashy backgrounds and complicated graphics on a site. They prefer a clean and simple format, clearly presented information and links that work.

They want to know about the writer and the product, and are not at all impressed when something takes forever to load, since a lot of them don't have the latest, super-duper, pow-and-wow, high-speed machines.

Just something to consider.

42 comments:

BernardL said...

I agree, fluff does distract from the main reason a reader visits the author. Dean Koontz site is really something to see though. :)

laughingwolf said...

true, absolutely... a lot of folk are still on dialup, so resent anything that slows down their web experience

SzélsőFa said...

Amen to that.
Even if we are living in a superficial age of plastic body parts, artificial lights and gadgets, it is reassuring and humane to have a quiet corner in the big rush of the internet.
I hope this entry is not about you considering to switching to some more updated version of your site.
Even if it were, I have no words over your choice, but I'd just like you to know I like it as it is!

Bernita said...

Bernard, I suppose some writer's sites become more of a fan site than a promotional site.

Laughing,seems to me that such busyness business interfers with the main purpose of a site, ie. communication.

Thank you, Szelsofa. No. If and when I do, a web site would be in addition to this blog site.

Ric said...

Some will like, some won't. Not going to please everyone - go with your gut on what pleases you.

We'll love you for it.

Bernita said...

~flirts eyelashes at Ric~

Ello said...

Actually I love sites that have lots of extras, but then need to be nicely contained in seperate pages that I can access when I'm ready to wait for the long loadup and not on the homepage which is a real distraction and a PITA (pain in the ass).

strugglingwriter said...

Yeah, as far as an author's blog or a blog about a book, I don't like a big wizz-bang Flash heavy intro. In fact, I see that and I immediately leave. I'd rather have text I can read/copy-paste rather than a pretty picture.

Paul

Whirlochre said...

The way Blogger's been tarrying this afternoon, even a quarter-size photo of a gnat would be an irritation.

Rick said...

I absolutely hate needless graphic clutter, just as I hate the fact that a major political blogger I've long read now thinks it is clever to record his commentaries as a YouTube video. Flush! If he wants to pretend to be a TV pundit, fine, but it's a waste of my personal bandwidth to take twice as long to hear what I'd rather read, and be able to look back easily.

That said, a few relevant images are perfectly welcome, or simply pretty ones that express a mood, like the ones you put up.

StarvingWriteNow said...

I agree--one thing that bugs me is how some sites I visit regularly have "upgraded" to being full of ads, popups, etc. I just want the information!

Billy said...

Agreed on visual overload. Annoys me.

Bernita said...

Links are good, Ello.

Eh, Paul, sometimes the banner/header is big and fabulous with flickers and there's damnall below it.

here, this morning it was Google having gastric pains, Whirl.

Rick, I'm developing an increasing and strong dislike for You Tube's.


Right, WriteNow!

Like WriteNow says, Billy, I want the information, not bells and whistles.

Robyn said...

And music. Good Gawd, no music, please. I hate it when I'm not prepared for Author X's Favorite Group to come blaring out of nowhere.

Bernita said...

I've been spared, Robyn, but I've read that people are really ticked by that.

Charles Gramlich said...

I definitely don't like photo overload, but a few selected pictures that compliment the text, or an introductory picture, as you always have, can certainly enhance the post. I don't typically go to blogs to look at just a bunch of images, though.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Charles.
Am afraid my post was obscure, was thinking primarily of additions to a writer's website and photos or drawings related to the novel being flogged.

writtenwyrdd said...

I've taken hundreds of digital photographs of areas where I think I'll be setting stories (and when I can reach them). It helps to create that sense of authenticity.

Web sites...Hmmm. I've had a web site for a few years and have I ever actually figured out how to write a proper website? No.

But I do have (expensive) friends who do graphic design for a living, and whom I'll ask for aid when the time comes. Meanwhile, I like web sites with beautiful graphics, but no animation. Not fond of animation.

For me it's not about the animation though; it's about the bandwidth that it takes to load a site. Even with DSL, the increase in usage means that my performance is not much better than dialup except for downloading files. so I really hate things that take forever to load.

Bernita said...

Written, I was quite fascinated. As I remember the novel was an historical but nevertheless...
I'm impatient w/slow-loaders myself.

raine said...

Good points, right on.
I'm too easily distracted as it is.
And yes, many of us still have dialup. Anything that takes too long to load, and I'm outta there.

Bernita said...

Raine, one gets the impression some become so carried away with the "tech" they forget the original purpose of their sites.

Lisa said...

Everyone feels differently about it, but to address the idea of photos that might have been inspiration for a fictional work -- I'm not a big fan (for example, I don't like bookcovers with photos that show faces). If the photos are a little vague or nebulous, I'm okay with that. The reason is that I'm a "trust the reader" reader, so I don't want to be told or shown what something or someone in a fictional work "really" looks like. For some reason, it shatters my "fictive dream". It's definitely the reason that I hate to find a book after it's been made into a film and the cover shows actors or a scene from the movie. That takes away from my personal one on one experience with the book. Does that seem weird?

laughingwolf said...

yes, communication, above all else...

Sam said...

Oh, I love bells and whistles, but it's nice to get back to basics too, and didn't someone say "Simplfy, simplify?"

Bernita said...

Weird? Not at all, Lisa.
You've described the main drawback of this form of promotion - that it may limit the reader's imagination and enjoyment.

And that point sometimes gets lost, Laughing.

I learned it as KISS, Sam!

Dave F. said...

You might want to plan updates. Unless the website is devoted only to one book, the reader may want more of your writing and may want to know about upcoming work. You should think about the focus and aim of the website.

Now be careful about that. I can tell you that updates can be burdens. Also, decide what you won't post on the website. I won't post personal affairs on my blog and I never post anything but stories on my website.

Also, plan who's going to write and update the HTML. And for crying out loud, keep a backup of everything up there. WE all know that word, backup, backup, backup! Commercial servers do blow up and die ignominious deaths.

And perhaps you want a special email to deal with the website. Just a thought.

And you want to link to the sellers who pay you money. That's not Amazon out front but the publisher.

As for the contents, that should reflect your novels in tone and in subject matter.

Things I despise - videos and music I can't stop and start. I just got high speed cable and I still have bad memories of slow websites thanks to some silly video or animation. People have said those things above. You might want to read a chapter of the book and put it in an audio file capable of being loaded into IPOD.

I think you should have a trailer and a presence on MYFACE or whatever that is... MYSPACE? YOUTOOB? I personally don't like that stuff but you might want to consider it. You might want to reject it, too.

Is this too much. Did I scare you away? It's not that I don't enjoy my website BUT four major rewrites of the entire website (every single file by hand) have made me cautious about its structure and style.

Dave F. said...

I just went over to the news and they encapuslated my advice in one story - you don't want the Space Station's toilet at 19 million a broken pop!

Bernita said...

ALL excellent advice, Dave. Thank you.

Jon M said...

I suppose it depends what your website is for. If it's to showcase work for possible agents/publishers then it has to look clean and professional. If you're published and trying to draw in an audience then it has to cater for them. Personally anything on a black background shrivels my eyeballs. I know some readers who find faces or eyes on a website too much of a distraction. I do like a picture to look at though and I love graveyard scenes...

Bernita said...

Some people love the black, but Jon, it shrivels my eyeballs a bit too.

spyscribbler said...

You should definitely have a website, Bernita!

The pictures and stuff are cool, and they do set a mood, but, if there's no content, I'll rarely go back. As they say, Content is King.

I keep wanting to know if my page is a slow-loader or not. It needs redone badly, but it's down the list there.

spyscribbler said...

Hah! Call me silly. You have a website! I didn't know that. :-) I'm a little slow, sometimes.

Bernita said...

Not really, Natasha. The tech child simply secured the domain or the www. or what ever it's called for a future site.

Gabriele C. said...

I'm so with Robyn on the music. Hate that.

And I hate those flashy intros with moving gadgets and the Skip Intro feature nowhere to be found. I don't mind some static photos on a site, though.

Bernita said...

That clutter does not impress me either, Gabriele.

Rick said...

Lisa - I take it that drawn book covers don't have the same effect? We can always dismiss a drawing as someone's idea of the character, while a photo demands that we take it as 'real.'

Roundabout, this explains the annoying (to me) headless women on book covers!

Suzanne Perazzini said...

I also hate the music that starts blaring when I already have my own songs playing.
Some websites are so busy I don't know where to start and so I often just get out of there and go elsewhere.
I'm all for a clean, eyecatching website. Relevant photos are great but not too much personal fluffery.

Bernita said...

Rick,there may well be a crucial difference in the psychology of perception.

Suzanne...come sit by me!

laughingwolf said...

yes, but some are so thick not even spoon feeding them will help....

Tor Hershman said...

That 'tis a most cool cemetery.

Stay on groovin' safari,
Tor

Bernita said...

Thank you, Tor, and thank you for stopping by.

writtenwyrdd said...

Dave reminded me: I really dislike musical web sites, in particular ones where you cannot shut off the music! (Pandora is the exception of course, lol.)