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Author Websites - What do you really need?

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Hi all,

I'm working on a building a website solution for authors that is super-simple to use and affordable - no challenge there then! : )

I'd love to hear from you all on what you believe an author site should have as it's base features, what would be additional "nice to have" features and your views on cost and pricing structures.

Just to be clear the solution I'm working on does not feature Wordpress at all and I would be interested to hear from Wordpress users as to what they love/hate about the platform.

All questions and comments appreciated.

Thanks,

Liam
#1 - August 15, 2017, 04:25 AM
Frequency - Design for Authors
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1. More than anything, authors rarely have $$ for websites. That means design and maintenance and updates. Only the ones with considerable financial success can have this expense managed professionally and taken as an expense from taxes on earnings.

2. Most writers are not tech-savvy. We're intelligent, but most of us haven't spent years learning tech structures.

If you add these two factors, you understand why so many have used WordPress and such.

So if you are developing a platform for writers, think of intuitive easy-to-use-and-maintain, and low or no cost. I think you have the enormous potential to have it used by many other artist who for some reason benefit from "web-presence."

Since all writers are comfortable using WORD, having tools that work similarly when it comes to creating and changing the site might be something to consider. Writers are good with language, so have the directions and the help feature "speak English," (I'm using this expression in the generic sense of  real natural language) and have it tested on people very different from techies such as yourself.

Last, have some measure of security that can be trusted. Blogger, specifically, has had whole blogs hijacked. 

Bless you for thinking of this, and wishing you great success.
#2 - August 15, 2017, 02:48 PM
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 02:50 PM by 217mom »
THE VOICE OF THUNDER, WiDo Publishing Aug 2012
THERE'S A TURKEY AT THE DOOR, Hometown520 July 2011

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Awesome things to have:
WYSIWYG
Drag and drop elements
Auto-saves
Security
Easy photo-editing (scaling, cropping)

The thing I like most about Wordpress is that no matter what I think I want, there's a plugin for it. I get it instantly without having to contact someone to set it up for me--and then wait until they have time to get to it. If it turns out I didn't want that feature after all, it's simple to remove, and no one's upset with me for wasting their time, plus my experiment didn't cost me  :dollar :dollar :dollar (Except for premium plugins, and I always use the free version until I know I'm going to like it).

But a lot of authors find Wordpress overwhelming, so a simpler, yet still versatile solution would probably find a welcoming audience.  :goodluck
#3 - August 15, 2017, 03:47 PM
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Thanks Mirka and Vonna for your responses.

I think ease of use seems to be the standout requirement and low cost. No cost is not really an option as personally I can't really afford to do work for no pay. And the other option for no cost is to load the site with advertising which I think looks horrible for the author.

I realise the appeal of Wordpress as it's free but in most cases it's simply a very poor solution especially in relation to Mirka's comment on security.

In what I'm attempting to do here I'm not reinventing the wheel as that's more time and resources than I can spare. But what i can do is use and existing open source solution and adapt it specifically for authors.

It would be impossible to get all of the ideal features into a single application but my targets are simplicity, security and affordability. With these three pillars in mind Wordpress is ruled out in all but affordability.

I think Vonna hit the nail on the head:

But a lot of authors find Wordpress overwhelming, so a simpler, yet still versatile solution would probably find a welcoming audience. 

So I'm not really  targetting those people that are happy to use Wordpress, if it works for you, great there's no reason to change. But for those that need something simpler and secure I'm hoping I can help.

Thanks again for  your comments.

Liam

#4 - August 15, 2017, 11:37 PM
Frequency - Design for Authors
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Sounds like a great plan! I'm another one who is perfectly content using the most basic (and free) level of Wordpress. I don't use apps or plugins and after more than five years I've never run into any security issues, so that's got me curious.
Best of luck, Liam! I'm sure you'll find a market for your simplified solution.  :clover
#5 - August 16, 2017, 04:08 AM
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I've never had security issues either. And I don't find Wordpress to be all that complex. Perhaps the complexity is in the needs of the author.
#6 - August 16, 2017, 08:20 PM

I've never had security issues either. And I don't find Wordpress to be all that complex. Perhaps the complexity is in the needs of the author.

Sounds like a great plan! I'm another one who is perfectly content using the most basic (and free) level of Wordpress. I don't use apps or plugins and after more than five years I've never run into any security issues, so that's got me curious.
Best of luck, Liam! I'm sure you'll find a market for your simplified solution.  :clover


Thanks for your comments Debbie, Marcia.

Website security is kind of like home insurance it's not a problem until something happens. There are two aspects to site security as well - preventing your site from being hacked is of course the primary one. The second is actually protecting your site visitors and that's where SSL / HTTPS is becoming  a huge deal. Google is going to start penalising sites that do not use SSL - some say as soon as October this year but the jury is out on exactly when.

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/xygdxq/google-will-soon-shame-all-websites-that-are-unencrypted-chrome-https

Complexity like many other things is subjective/relative. If you are using a barebones Wordpress site with minimal plugins then you are much safer than sites that are overloaded with poor quality, free or cheapo plugins that can be a major security risk.

Anyways....I've gone way off topic. : )
#7 - August 23, 2017, 04:58 AM
Frequency - Design for Authors
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The second is actually protecting your site visitors and that's where SSL / HTTPS is becoming  a huge deal. Google is going to start penalising sites that do not use SSL - some say as soon as October this year but the jury is out on exactly when.


How does one "convert" for http:// to https:// if we are going to be penalized?   :huh
The other aspect of it is whether this is a conversion that involves $.  :confused2

We all know that any site that has a way to access financial information (such as a site that sell  and you pay through the site) should have the S in https. But an author site normally is not selling directly. It's a multi-page ad, a getting-to-know-you. Same for blogs.

This is actually not off topic, but goes to the first question you raised, Liam. It's about what we need on/from our author sites.   :bow

#8 - August 23, 2017, 08:59 PM
THE VOICE OF THUNDER, WiDo Publishing Aug 2012
THERE'S A TURKEY AT THE DOOR, Hometown520 July 2011

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How does one "convert" for http:// to https:// if we are going to be penalized?   :huh
The other aspect of it is whether this is a conversion that involves $.  :confused2
We all know that any site that has a way to access financial information (such as a site that sell  and you pay through the site) should have the S in https. But an author site normally is not selling directly. It's a multi-page ad, a getting-to-know-you. Same for blogs.

This is actually not off topic, but goes to the first question you raised, Liam. It's about what we need on/from our author sites.   :bow

Hi Mirka,

It used to be the case that the only places you would see the green lock in your browser bar and https is on bank sites and large retailers, places where credit card information would be input. However the fact is that standard http is inherently insecure and the last few years have seen some huge security breaches on big sites.

Even on sites that don't have an ecommerce function people are still handing over personal information and using passwords in all kinds of ways, newsletter signups, comment sections etc etc. And all of that information can be potentially stolen by people intent on illegal hacking for profit.

For many years security companies (Certificate authorities) have been charging money to install SSL certs on sites. The problem is it's been a technical process best left to techies so adoption hasn't been huge. And there hasn't been a huge incentive even when the paid versions have started to get very cheap - the cheapest basic certs can now be purchased for less that $10 per year.

There have been moves recently to make https more accessible to everybody so companies like LetsEncrypt and Cloudflare are now offering SSL for free. Of course nobody ever does anything unless they have to and since Google have declared they will penalise and highlight insecure sites regular people are starting to sit up and take notice. Google makes no differentiation between any types of sites and their functions, whether they have financial transactions or not, the simple rule is that SSL for every site makes the whole internet a lot safer.

So the first port of call would be to have a chat with your web designer as they should know how to hook you up with SSL. If you have  a DIY self-built site then you need to contact your hosting company and they should be able to help. Also if your site runs on WHM / cPanel you will probably have access to free SSL that's pretty easy to setup at the hosting level.

I have used both the Cloudflare SSL and the AutoSSL feature in cPanel.

Here's some other useful links:

https://letsencrypt.org/

https://www.cloudflare.com/integrations/wordpress/free-ssl-certificate-wordpress/

https://blog.cpanel.com/autossl/

Hope that helps.

Liam




#9 - August 24, 2017, 02:05 AM
Frequency - Design for Authors
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Informative and thorough answer, Liam. This makes me want to hire *you*  :applause
#10 - August 27, 2017, 05:20 PM
THE VOICE OF THUNDER, WiDo Publishing Aug 2012
THERE'S A TURKEY AT THE DOOR, Hometown520 July 2011

www.mirkabreen.com
http://mirkabreen.BlogSpot.com

Informative and thorough answer, Liam. This makes me want to hire *you*  :applause

: )
Thanks Mirka. Always happy to talk!

#11 - August 29, 2017, 07:55 AM
Frequency - Design for Authors
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