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Websites: A Manual for the Basically Clueless

DanaeDanae subscriber Posts: 5
My business is helping people create effective company websites that attract visitors and make sales.  Hence the name of my company, Effective Websites.
I have an idea to write an e-book called "Websites: A Manual for the Basically Clueless."  The purpose of this book would be to help business owners or other people who are in charge of marketing decisions to be able to make informed decisions about what their company website should look like and include, and who to hire to work on the website.  It is not a "do it yourself" book, but a "make informed decisions" book. 
Topics included in the book would be:
--Choosing a domain name and hosting company
--Making a website easy to use, pleasant to look at, and useful to visitors
--Marketing online--things to do and things to avoid
--Things you can use a website for other than an online brochure
I would make this as comprehensive as possible, and write it so that people with little to no understanding of the Internet could feel comfortable with the information presented.  I would sell this e-book through my website for about $17.50.
So, I would like to ask you all, does this sound like a product that you or someone you know would find valuable?  What other topics would you like to see included in this book?  Does the price of $17.50 seem too low or too high?
I appreciate all feedback.


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    CaplanCaplan subscriber Posts: 1
    Hey I can use a few pointers, check out my website and tell me what you think,electorials.comThanks,Greg
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    thomorthomor subscriber Posts: 6
    nothing wrong with the title, I mean look at all those ____ for dummies books 
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    InactiveMemberInactiveMember subscriber Posts: 12
    Great idea, pretty good copywriting, pretty good execution. You could improve the design a bit and perhaps execute better, but nothing wrong overall. I see nothing wrong with using a template. In fact, using a template is the only real solution for a beginner. That`s a great way to learn in fact. The real test is how many books you sell, right? If you sell a lot of books, wonderful. If not, you might need to refactor a bit.
    Here`s a post I wrote on copywriting. [If you`re interested.]
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    InactiveMemberInactiveMember subscriber Posts: 12
    Jeff, once again a nasty, unhelpful comment. Keep it up and you`re going to show everybody exactly how you like to be "constructive". Have you ever considered that future clients might Google you and find your posts? Is this good brand strategy?
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    patentandtrademarkpatentandtrademark subscriber Posts: 103
    Do you intend to register the book with the Copyright office?
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    InactiveMemberInactiveMember subscriber Posts: 12
    Jeff, I certainly hope you don`t lose sleep over my comments. That would make me feel bad. [No sarcasm. I would feel bad if I thought that my comments were harmful.] You`re right, don`t request criticism if you can`t handle it. Touche.
    That said...
    I bet other people lose sleep over your comments. Look, throwing out a single sentence that says "you suck" isn`t helpful. It`s harmful to a lot of people. Helpful is saying "you could do this better if you..." or something ... or even "you`re obviously unqualified to do this ... but you`re good at this". Honestly Jeff, I have tried to be nice and conciliatory but I really don`t like having to participate in discussions with you and sooner or later you`ll drive me away from any discussion in which you participate.
    For the record: I don`t feel like I have the right to reprimand you or anyone else. Maybe I should just shut up. But I`m not the only one who is growing tired of your "style" or whatever you want to call it.
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    InactiveMemberInactiveMember subscriber Posts: 12
    NHG, You`re absolutely right.
    I meant "templates are good for beginners because they`re a way to learn how to build sites". It`s tough for even an expert to start with a clean sheet. So, that`s what I meant. We all use templates in various form, every day, without realizing it, and yet there are no calls against our professionalism. We don`t build our own cell phones, cars, etc. Nor do we always think original thoughts or act originally. Templates are just a way for someone to do something they couldn`t otherwise do. Templates compress information into a manageable package. Personally, I don`t have any problem with a template based approach. After all, HTML and CSS and Web Standards are just templates after all. C++ relies super heavily on templates. So I guess I don`t see much difference?
    That said, you are correct that a beginner should not sell advice. No way. That could certainly cause more harm than good at any rate. But how does one become an expert? You have to start somewhere.
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    keyconkeycon subscriber Posts: 34
    You do come across as an angry person and it is the main reason I rarely engage in threads where you participate ... I couldn`t hold my tongue on this one however. Ever since I noticed your style emerging late last year and I reviewed your website and discovered the basics of your company`s offering, I often wondered how your angry style plays out with your customers. If you use this style here on the SuN forums, I am pretty sure you use it in most dealings with the people you interact with all day. Rarely have I found someone who has the capability to switch sucessfully between Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. I believe what we read here on the forum is the real Jeff.
    I`m quite sure you will respond with something cute and caddy and completely "Jeff" and this is fine. I am not trying to change you - only you can do that. But CookieMonster is correct ... you come across as a very caustic and angry person and I`m pretty sure this is not the first time you have ever heard that from someone.
    I know this will probably fall on deaf ears but I will make the suggestion anyway. I suggest you read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. A classic. Read it several times this year. Keep it with you at all times. Try using the principles in the book on a daily basis.
    "Brand Jeff" ain`t working right now.
    Have a great tomorrow!
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    InactiveMemberInactiveMember subscriber Posts: 12
    I actually have to agree with Nikole. I don`t really like the negative title ... but it`s very effective copywriting ... don`t change it.
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    InactiveMemberInactiveMember subscriber Posts: 12
    Don`t kvetch about your web site. You think that cute girl wants to marry a kvetcher? Here, eat soup. You`re too thin. Stop worrying about that web site or you`ll catch a cold. 
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    DanaeDanae subscriber Posts: 5
    Hello everyone,
    I appreciate your comments and opinions.  It`s very helpful to know how my ideas sound to others.  A few points & responses:
    1.  My website is not a template.  I designed it myself.  But then every template was designed by somebody originally, so I wonder why some designs "look like" templates and others don`t.  But that`s another topic.  Design is not my strongest point--I`m looking into partnering with a graphic design firm, in fact.  And I know my design isn`t amazing, but I think it`s pleasant enough.  I would like to make it more liquid (it doesn`t adjust horizontally,) but otherwise I think it`s basically sound.  If anyone has specific reasons why they don`t like it, I`ll be interested to hear them.
    2. A few people said my website is not effective.  I am still working on it.  It`s a process, not an instant thing.  I would like to know what specifically it is not doing effectively.  What do you think the website should accomplish that it did not accomplish for you?
    3. CraigL: I see that my original post was somewhat confusing.  You are right in thinking that this book would be about helping people understand what they`re hearing from web designers and what not.  When I said it was not a "how to" book, I meant it wouldn`t be "how to make your own website."  For this book, my aim is not to help the little businesses, where everything is done by one person, who does as much as they can in-house, but to help owners of perhaps more established businesses, who know they need to do something with a company website, and have the resources to hire outside help, but don`t have the information they need to make good decisions about that.
    4. About the title: it was a catchy idea I had, but I`ll get more opinions about whether it`s a turn-off, and whether a more straightforward title would be better.
    I appreciate all the feedback (negative too) that I`ve gotten.  I would appreciate more.
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    vwebworldvwebworld subscriber Posts: 40
    Your site is solid design, navigation and content. Would I design it like that? Maybe not...
    There are plenty of sites out there made specifically to "sell" a book or something saying this is the best thing since daylight and how this book changed my life.... and those sites aren`t knock-out designs.  They are made to get the targeted keywords indexed to drive traffic to the site.
    Yes, a liquid site or just wider (800 - to 1000px) would be good. I`m not "keen" on the text colors (green and orange) but they do stand out.
    Your original post - was about the eBook:Will this ebook really sell? There is a lot of "free" information (and advice) on the web about making websites and what works or doesn`t work.  For me to purchase a book or an eBook... I`d need to see there is something in it I need and can not get anywhere else (within the time frame I need it).
     vwebworld2007-2-19 14:38:10
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    DanaeDanae subscriber Posts: 5
    Hello Jeff,
    I appreciate your more detailed post, as compared to your first one.
    Graphics: The borders are graphics, the link box is graphics, and yes, in fact, the company name is also a graphic.  I don`t know how else you think I would have accomplished the drop shadow.  I have not added pictures, because I really don`t like those generic pictures I see on corporate websites, and I haven`t figured out what else to put. 
    You said the web is unforgiving about second chances.  Do you have evidence or research to back that up?  I know from stories I`ve read of some large, established businesses offline, they had rough starts, big failures, etc., and they managed to get past it and be strong.  Do you think the Internet is so different?  If so, why?
    I don`t know what you mean by "I`ve realized this is a franchise model", but I can tell you why I don`t currently use Site Build It.  It costs a lot of money ($300/year), it limits some functionality (you can`t do anything with databases), and it`s really more of a tool set for people who don`t want to bother with the technical side of making a website.  I know about the technical side, so that`s not an issue for me.  I think it`s a great program for many people, but just not for me personally, not right now.  I am considering creating a website using Site Build It in the future, to back up my opinion that it`s great, but that`s not a project I`m focusing on right now.
    Again, I am not "hearing" specific points you see of how my website is not effective, other than that you don`t care for the design. 
    I know how people look at websites.  I know that clear navigation is good.  I think my navigation is clear and the most popular links are at the top.  I have a strong (I think) headline at the top of the page, as well as subheadlines further down that emphasize key points.  Someone glancing over this page quickly should get a good idea of what the company is about in just a few seconds. 
    Do you have other points about the effectiveness?  Like, if the design was different (whatever you think would be a good design), would that make the whole website effective in your opinion?Danae2007-2-19 14:36:12
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    vwebworldvwebworld subscriber Posts: 40
    I believe this thread has evolved to include a discussion of Danae`s website eventhough that was not in the original post.
    You have described (I presume) how you expect the subject of "effective websites" would be presented on a webpage. Certainly a logical approach and presentation.
    I would argue that Danae`s page is effective as is because it engages the viewer by using a question: "Would you like your website to do more for your company?" The question is prominently presented and essentially a version of the questions you`d like to see.
    I`m suggesting a site does not have to "tell a story" to be effective. It must engage to viewer - connect with that viewer`s wants or desires...with what that viewer is seeking and provide a solution (call to action).
    Danae`s technique of asking a question is a common and effective advertizing technique. "Telling a story" is another. She also employs another effective technique for drawing people in - FREE stuff. Free stuff can also create repeat visitors if the free stuff content is changed periodically.
    Perhaps the one improvement would be to add a more overt "call to action" higher up on the web page in response to the question similar to your suggested "Let us examine your site and tell you if it`s effective." Something like - "Click here to make your site more effective."
    ~Rolandvwebworld2007-2-20 3:32:52
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    DanaeDanae subscriber Posts: 5
    Hello everyone,
    I appreciate your ideas for improving my site.  I will think about the copy issues you brought up and see how I can work with those.
    Today I have spent several hours redesigning the home page since several people thought the current one looked too much like a template.  If you would like to see the new design, it is at www.effective-websites.com/newdesign.html</A>.  I would like to know if you all like that one better.  I was going to start a new thread about that, but since this discussion continues to be on the topic of the effectiveness of my site, I figured it could go here.
    Also, I thought about the idea that a couple of you raised of having a subscription website.  The thing is, that would necessitate putting considerable time into creating new material every month, and I want the information/education part of the company to be secondary to the actual creating and improving of people`s websites.  So it might be something to do in the future, when I have more people working for me, but it`s not practical right now.
    An alternative route which would deal with the issue of information going out of date would be to offer a "book with updates" package in addition to the book alone.  People could pay a few more dollars to get revisions as they become necessary.  I could also put out revised versions of the book periodically, just like people do with print books. 
    Considering the subject matter for this book (basics of the Internet and websites, defining terms, clearing away myths, etc.), it shouldn`t drastically change that often.  I suppose it`s possible that Google will come up with new technology that drastically changes search (as one of you suggested), but considering that their current method has been in the works since 1996, it seems unlikely to me. 
    Edited to add: I also started rewriting the home page copy--you can read it on the new design page.  It`s not finished, but if anyone has any thoughts on whether this is heading in a better direction, that would be cool.
    And I fixed the link. (Thanks, Steve!)Danae2007-2-20 20:25:32
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