Personal sites, good web design and your content

One of the places, where you find the least amount of "good " web design is the personal site. All too often all the rules that are pounded home to E-commerce, go out the window for personal sites.

The titles ignored, the text keywords, layout, contrast, readability ... all the rules are treated as unimportant.

But you say, " mine is just a personal site, why does it matter ?" It matters because you put it out there to share, and if no one reads it because no one finds it in the engines, your paying for web space to have a handy place to read your own words. My first article I ever wrote on web design speaks of a web page being a letter to the world. And it is just that, but more importantly, it's your content, even for a personal site.

The rules do not change be it personal or business, you still need keywords, you still need proper titles, good meta tags, etc. or your personal webspace you are " sharing " with the world, is not shared, as no one will ever find it, other than via direct link.

Your personal site needs the same attention paid to all the " rules " as any business site. In fact, in some ways, more so, as you have no product to sell, only information to provide.

I get a lot of flack from people, since I am a web designer, because my personal site is so plain relatively speaking, no fancy java tricks, no flash and dash and most of my content, fairly simple and to the point, yet despite this lack of being " state of the art " my visitor rate is high, and return rate good, why ?

Because, along with some, one of a kind images and backgrounds, as it's the one place I get to play :) , it has over 300 pages worth of unique content 99 % of it written by yours truly. That grows constantly.

That means that "unless someone's borrowed it " you will find the content no where else on the web, unless I put it there. Every page is titled, keywords for the pages etc. and the overall site ranks well and link popularity is good.

Which makes it very useful in its category, as in its category, repetitive and non unique content on site after site, is unfortunately, the norm.

We have all experienced this, start a web hunt for any given topic and see site after site with the same information, often times the exact same wording.

It becomes a case of " seen one, seem em all "

My own is different because, other than a few pieces, which are sort of " standard " and therefore expected, for my category, you don't get that on my site, you get things from my perspective, often they are heavily researched, but still the opinion presented is my own viewpoint, after all the study.

I get letters every week from people telling me what a pleasure it is to view a site that has so much to offer the viewer, that is NOT the same as everybody else's.

Now you say " but I'm not a writer !! " Well news neither am I, but I manage, simply because I view the page as a one way conversation and I love to talk. Like you couldn't tell this :) but that's all there is to it. If you can talk, you can write good copy. You might have to tweak it a little for written word VS speech for the layout, but it's the same skill. Ask any blogger.

You will notice, the paragraphs here, are broken up for each " point " this is one of the " for web " rules. The, all the lines run together one after another that you see in print is fine, for a book, lousy for web work. Long paragraphs are out, short and to the point is in.

Think of it in terms of the outlines you used to have to make for your English teacher, point after point, that you would later expound into full text. This is the same thing , for the same reason, no one gets online to read a book, well very few at any rate, so text layout that is easy to read and easy to follow is a must.

Web pages can be short or long, but don't try and cover too much with one shot, unless your making a page to sum up a whole section.

People read web pages in moments of time, its rare that they have hours to spend pouring over your site. Information snacking it's called, they get on, hit the engine, plug in the keyword for a topic.. find a few sites that have it, and once they have the info they want, they are outta here. We all do this, do a reality check on your own hunting habits and you will have a pretty good idea what others do.

So knowing this, build your web pages of information accordingly, short, to the point, easy to read and one of a kind. Its your place to shine and share your insight with the world, but don't forget the " rules " of good design while your at it. And if you have one of a kind, good quality content, they will be back to read more.

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