How much website do you need – part 4

You need to keep your content fresh and interesting

In my last article, I promised to discuss some options for keeping your website fresh and interesting, without spending a fortune on it.

This is probably the most reliable way of generating traffic and it is totally under your control. Website and weblog traffic waxes and wanes as the author shifts from writing new copy and stops writing or recycles old stories.

Fresh and original content is like gold. Fresh content with a slightly positive outlook is like fine gold.

Reading websites full of bad news and endless complaints is like subjecting yourself to a root canal. Who needs that?

Life is full of injustices and betrayals. Why wallow in them? Find a site that is doing something about injustices, etc. and you will find yourself being energized to help.

On the other hand, a site that makes you laugh or makes you think will bring you back time after time. It is also the most satisfying kind of website to create.

From the figures I’ve seen, most web surfers (70%) spends less than 30 seconds on a site and they are becoming more sophisticated every day. They are searching for specific information and they resent being sucked into a dead-end site full of links to other sites.

Too many sites seem to put attention on attracting traffic with provocative or misleading links. This is such a waste of time because the first view of the site reveals that the site does not live up to the visitor’s expectations.

In the first few seconds, the average visitor has already decided whether a site has original or canned material and is already moving their mouse to leave the site.

When a site has original material and it is presented in a readable fashion, the time spent by visitors increases dramatically.

Too many sites try to automate "original material" by posting feeds from other sites or press releases from publicists. They even showcase posts from other people’s weblogs as a come-on, but the rest of the page is covered with ads. This is a waste of electrons.

How to keep your website fresh and interesting

I would like to suggest that the best way to keep your website fresh and interesting is to get a website that you can manage yourself. This is very much a self-publishing activity and there is a lot of technology available to let you do this today. To find out more, continue reading.

The traditional website was much like the traditional dead-tree
publishing model. You had an idea and you provided material to someone
or a group who would thrash around for months and then publish
something remotely like what you wanted.

With the new model of website, you can find a hosting company that
provides you with templates for displaying your products or artwork and you can update your site using
only a browser.

If you are really poky about it, you can spend several days setting up
your site. Many people are able to set up a site in a few hours and
then spend their time putting content on the site.

If you are an artist or a craftsperson, there are sites like artspan.com, foliosnap.com, and fineartstudioonline.com which will allow you to create a professional presentation of your work and update it whenever you want.

Depending on the options you select your monthly fees can range from
$15-$40/month. You also have the option to add news items and press
releases to your site to generate more interest.

If your creative output is best explained by the written or spoken word, a weblog hosting company like Blogger or Typepad
is your best bet. Again, you get templates to work with and you can
easily set up a site from scratch in a few hours. Prices range from
free to about $15/month for sites that will let you post articles with
images and sound recordings using only a browser.

In any of the cases I have described, you can update your site as
frequently as you have new information to place on it. Once you have
your site up and running, there are a few easy steps to direct traffic
to your site. I will try to cover the easiest and most effective in the
next article.

You can still enlist professional help in setting up and maintaining
one of the art hosting websites I have mentioned above. The major difference is
that the time required is a fraction of what would be required on a
fully customized website. I have several clients using artspan and
they would rather have me shoot pictures of their work and upload them
than take the time to do it themselves.

My primary interest is in achieving results for my clients, not necessarily building and
maintaining websites. I generally find that simpler approaches are
better. Key words to remember: Fresh content, Interesting content,
update often.

UPDATE: There are now four parts to this article:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

UPDATE 2: Since I began this series of posts, I have begun providing webhosting services as well as website design for several clients. If you are an artisan or a startup business in SW Virginia and you are looking for a site design that is customer-centered, I might be able to help you out. Send me an email.

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