How is the New Millenium Going for You so Far?

So it’s been fifteen year in the new millenium and we have seen a lot of things go down during the years. The wonderful 2000’s, then the economic crash in 2008. Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, the rise of terrorism. An anti-trust investigation against Google in the US, but found to be compliant with the laws. And just a couple months ago a similar investigation in the EU, but with a different result.

I am not going to go into all details, I will mostly look at the tech world and trends that happened so fast, we can’t even believe it.

The Rise of Apple aka the Era of iPads and iPhones

The iconic leader of Apple, Steve Jobs has passed away but what a legacy he left behind. Under his guidance Apple has grown into the biggest company in the world. They have driven trends in technology and the rest of the world just followed.

That’s right, before Apple, Samsung and the now well-known tech companies didn’t have the clear direction they have today. Heck, even Android did not exist then.

Hello Cloud!

Much has happened in the hosting industry as well. With cloud entering the market, it’s cheaper and more stable to run any web based service. Apple has it’s own cloud, Google and Microsoft has too. IBM is making a big bet on cloud, and every somewhat respectable Silicon Valley company has it’s own cloud.

It’s not that hard actually. With Linux builds tailored for servers and cloud hosting, it’s in reach for midsize companies as well.

Many such companies take advantage of the cloud, like iPage in the retail hosting business (has nothing to do with Apple in spite of it’s name).

Better Speeds

We not only have small computers that have many times the performance of the computers we had at the time of the millernium, we have also made a leap just these last few years. I am talking about SSD-s. It’s well known that processing power increased a lot, but without SSDs, any computer would be limited by the speeds of the HDDs.

It has a big impact in a wide range of areas. In phones and tablets, it’s not a big impact since we have been using flash drives from the beginning. A battery wouldn’t be able to keep a tablet with an HDD long alive.

But putting an HDD in your laptop or desktop is a completely different expeience than an HDD. It’s also a whole other level when applied in the field of web hosting. Files are read faster, databases are read faster. Don’t forget that you SQL databases are also stored on disks.

Talking of speeds, internet speeds are soaring. My home internet speed is higher then any Fortune 500 company could afford in the 2000’s. Not bad, if you ask me.

What brings tomorrow? It’s hard to tell. But judging from the fast-pace changes in the last fifteen years, we are up for a tough ride. Let’s try to keep up with the changes! I personally would like to see some groundbraking ideas for saving our planet and curing major chronic diseases. Let’s hope some changes are coming in those areas as well.

 

Promoting a Specific Title or Series

Every book or series of books has something to convey, some coherent theme or idea to communicate, something that is the center of the disparate parts. Even if a writing series has a different theme for each book, there is something that is consistent throughout, e.g., characters, location, milieu, time, subject, and so forth.

The overriding consistency in a series should be the underlying anchor for promoting the series.This seems obvious, but sometimes emotional appeal overrides logic. And the design theme should emphasize the books, not overwhelm them. Check out the Step-by-Step article this week on the four keys to a professional web design or see Examples 1 & 2.

But what about the author who has a number of totally different books? If the writer has written a number of independent books, that is books not in an obvious series (such as Alan Lightman or Mark Salzman), then each book may have a unique page for promotion — but with an over-arcing navigation and dominant visual layout that ties the pages together and reinforces the author’s branding identity. Or the layout and style of pages used to promote the author may be used consistently for all titles. See Examples 3 & 4.

Basic Content

The basic content for a page promoting a book is: Title of the book, author’s name as it appears on the book, book publisher, isbn number, list price and sales outlets. This information should be placed clearly and prominently. On loading the page, the visitor should not have to scroll or click anything to see this information. This may sound obvious, but I’ve actually come across book promotional sites that either didn’t include all of the information or buried and scattered the information throughout the site. If promoting multiple titles, particularly a series, this information should be placed in the same location in the same format for all of the books.See Examples 5 & 6.

Beyond the Basics

How much additional content and how complex it is depends upon your available time, available resources and subject. Any additional material, to be successful in building traffic and identity, must provide a meaningful benefit to your visitors. In other words, it must provide them with a solution to their problem or desire, it must meet the visitor’s needs before it can meet your needs.

Expand Your Site With Specialized or In Depth Information

Use all of that extra specialized or in depth information you posses on a topic related to your book to add depth to your web site and reinforce your book’s own identity. Here are ideas to start your own brainstorming:

  • Historical writers — use “left over” research to post regular in depth articles such as 14th Century gardening techniques and designs; siege weapons of the Medici’s; a glossary of idiom’s and terms from the period and their meaning. Just take some of that left over material that would be of interest to your readers and expand the information.
  • Romance writers — collect uplifting stories of true romances that overcame the odds; provide periodic articles of romantic tips or products (or myths and legends); take a tip from Showtime and provide character profiles of your regulars (foods, drinks, books, music, etc.); the rest of the story — periodic romantic postcards from the characters like the popular series of illustrated books in the 90’s. Try imagining how you’d like to interact or continue your involvement with one of your favorite books, characters or authors.
  • SF writers — add a regular “Science News” column with links and commentary to new findings in your subject area; go out on a limb and do a periodic extrapolation of some recent scientific or technological breakthrough — just be prepared to laugh at yourself; or take a look at past extrapolations by other writers in your subject area; start a movement (Hey, it worked for Sterling and Hubbard!)
  • Non-fiction — everybody loves to be on the inside so if you have the contacts, consider a news, gossip or rumor site with regular updates in the area your book or series
  • and much more — this looks like it’s turning into a series of articles unto itself so if you’ve got genre or category that you want covered, send us a message.

Contests, Incentives or Competitions

Develope a contest, incentive or competition that hits the right tone and interests of your audience. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive if you read your audience correctly. Think of all of those bad writing or humorous headline contests where the prize is nothing more than the fame and glory of it. Non-fiction authors, for example, might produce a small bookmark or information reference card. If humor’s your brand identity, generate a small humor list and invite your visitors to add to it. David Letterman does this to generate material for his “Top 10 List” and thousands of people visit daily to enter. Contests, incentives and competitions are often promotional “stunts”, but can turn into traffic builders if consistent and entertaining.

E-zines and Newsletters

E-zines are electronic magazines. Elements of Web Style is an e-zine. They can be delivered via the web or e-mail. The zine should include actual information and not be just a sales pitch. An e-zine can be very effective in establishing an author’s identity if targeted correctly and the information contained is highly useful to the recipient and presented well. In a future issue ofElements, we’ll cover e-zines in more depth and provide resources that can help you get started.

Electronic newsletters can be in either plain text or HTML (which most of the email programs support). If you are going to offer an HTML newsletter, you should also plan on offering the option of a plain text version. Many people either can’t receive files in the HTML format or prefer not to receive these files because of their larger size and slower loading.

In whatever method of promotion you choose, you should plan on eventually building a mailing list. While avid marketers are often highly aggressive in demanding visitor information, others have found the growing resistance by web users concerned about privacy issues and choose a more low key approach. I leave the choice up to you, although I usually advise clients to examine how they feel about their personal privacy and spam. I strongly recommend including a privacy policy statement on any site collecting visitor information. It will provide concerned visitors with the information they need and protect you from any potential legal ramifications down road.

Have you seen or developed interesting promotional content for your site? Send it to us and you might win a free consultation, a web design book, some software or whatever else we find under all the overflowing paper! Has anyone seen that Ming cup lately?

This was longer than I expected and we’ve only scratched the surface. Look for more features on each of these points downroad. Next week, we’ll continue with a look at “Community Building enhancements.”