Website Direction

An article by David Brooks on October 3, 2008


This week I have been asked a number of times for advice on starting a website or a blog. The strange thing to me is that it’s not on the typical technology-centered conversational lines. Instead, I am being asked about purpose, and so I thought I would write my sentiments about the subject.

It really almost doesn’t matter what you write about or what your website is. Seriously though, there’s a space out there for pretty much anything you can think of. With that being said, how you present your site is what is important — and then again, maybe it isn’t.

If you want to show your family photos of your kids, or you just want to provide a place to write your thoughs about your trip through Russia the sky is the limit. You can find a number of places to host your website, you could hire someone to do it, or you could even give it a go on your own if you felt up to it.

Nevertheless you can do whatever you want, it all depends on what you want to do. Some people want a place to write down their thoughts, others want to sell things. If you’re looking into the web for commerce reasons it will probably be a different conversation than if it’s for personal use. In that case you may need to hire a professional, or eight. But I think one of the best pieces of advice I could give is “look around.” See what people are expecting from you before you start. You don’t even have to listen to them if you don’t want to.

Creating a web presence doesn’t inherently require professionalism, perfectionism or anything else. Everything depends on what you want to do with your site. If you want to start a site about herding cattle, look around and see what else is out there on the subject. Compare what it is that you offer to their content and see what you can do better.

If you are starting a blog, great. But be sure to keep your purpose in mind. The point of my site is to provide a place to write about what I feel like and to post the recent work that I have done. If I had started this site with the intention to get rich I would probably have quit a long time ago to invest my time in doing something else, anything else.

With all that being said, I do care about readers. I want to bring people to my site, otherwise I should have just written things down on my computer and called it a day. But I don’t want to attract just anyone, I have defined my target audience.

So the best advice I can give is this:

  1. Define your target audience.
  2. Own your site, make it exactly what you want it to be, keeping in mind your target audience.
  3. Compare your site with similar ones and see where you can improve your own.

That is my typical advice, in a nut shell.

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About David Brooks

David Brooks is the owner of the small creative studio, Northward Compass, based out of Orlando, Florida. He writes electronic and ambient music as Light The Deep, and fantasy stories about a place called Elerien.

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