Q: I am a writer and would like a basic website to guide my readers and in future to explore marketing possibilities.
A: This begs the question “what is a basic website”?
One thing’s for sure, that if you’re writer then you’ll probably keep adding lots and lots of pages to your website as it will come naturally to you to write them. And if you want to develop a marketing site then adding new pages will become a must.
To do this you’ll need a website with flexibility, so that you can add, amend or delete pages, and add, amend and delete menus as you go.
With this flexible facility you’ll be able to grow your website in the way that seems best to you at the time. This is a key point as many websites are built without a great deal of flexibility, particularly when it comes to adding or amending menus.
For example, take the scenario where after having a new website for three months or so, and you’ve added quite a few new pages which you’ve written yourself. You then find that you’ve developed fresh ideas of your own as to how the site should evolve, say, to add more marketing ideas and features.
This is fine and to be expected so long as you can access the menu structure of the site, and thereby create whole new areas.
But if access to menus is restricted, then you may well find your new ideas “don’t fit” the structure. As like as not you’ll shrug, then quietly give up on it.
I’ve seen lots of websites like this, where the original design is attractive and eye-catching, but the structure is so rigid that there’s no room for new areas, or new ideas, or developing better marketing sections. Of course, the buyer wasn’t aware of this at the time. And maybe the web developer wasn’t telling either, as they were trying to keep the price down.
Flexibility is also a problem for larger company websites too. I hear company execs saying they can’t do this with their website, or they can’t do that, and that their access is restricted to adding a few pages which, once uploaded, will be hard for visitors to find.
Often changes require making a big deal out of something that should be small. Often IT is outsourced, so there are interminable layers of decision-process and cost required to get anything done that wasn’t in the original design plan.
The solution to all of this whether you’re a writer who needs a basic website, or a dynamic growing SME, is to ensure that the website design is inherently flexible, that users can add, amend or delete menu items, and not just single pages.
You have to ask for this feature, as the web developer is unlikely to go into any detail on it without prompting. Or they may have a financial interest in selling you an updating system that is fairly limited in its application.
So apart from the obvious features of a basic website like good looks, easy navigability and great content, ask about flexibility, especially menu flexibility as someday, maybe not too soon, you’ll want it too.