Let There Be Light!
Basics of Composition
First Thoughts when choosing a Costume
The Sun, Part 1
Online Marketing Part II: Your Siteby Liiga Smilshkalne
Enough about the location, let's move on to the idea of your site. There are two important aspects to it - picking a theme and refining your idea.
Picking a unifying theme for your site is extremely important. It is necessary for finding your target audience, creating a solid impression, and unifying your design.
Without having a unified idea of what your site is really about, you're in for a ride when it comes to defining your target audience, which is extremely important if you want to make good sales. This principle is used everywhere, even in malls! Think for a moment from the consumer's point of view. You have a need, and you are to go somewhere to fulfil it. What will come to your mind first? A place that caters specifically to fulfilling this need, or a place that has something from this, something from that, and also includes things you want? Before you answer that, consider that needs can be multifaceted. You will, for example, not only want a jacket, but you will want either an expensive jacket or a cheap jacket, and you'll want to spend your time picking it, or you'll just want to grab the first one you see. If you are to look for an expensive, quality jacket, you will most definitely head towards a store that specializes in expensive, elegant clothing. If you want something to grab and go, you will quite likely go to the same mall, or whichever other store would suit. So from the consumer's point of view, the theme of the site is extremely important for creating the association in the moment the need shows up, and the better you manage to encourage this association, the more likely it is that the consumer will head your way.
Also, from your own point of view, having a unified idea will let you focus on attracting that one audience you need, and no other. If you have one idea, you can direct all your marketing efforts and expenses toward achieving it. If you have five ideas, you will have to split the same resources in five parts -- with significantly less impressive results.
Having one central idea to your site also creates a good impression. A slightly extreme, but very remarkable example of a site that does not have much of central idea, is a link farm. (Yes, it has the purpose of farming links, but let's ignore that for a moment.) A link farm is a site that lists hundreds and thousands of whatever links, for the purpose of boosting search engine ratings -- although lately the engines have caught up and the link farms are no longer effective. Now, would you ever go to such link farm? Would you? Didn't think so. Hardly anyone is interested in a list of random links and themes, and such sites usually create very poor impression. They are useless to you as a consumer, and they are regarded as inferior product. As extreme as this example is, this is something you definitely don't want to happen to your site. So pick a theme, and stick with it. How broad or narrow you want it to be, that is an entirely different question, and will be addressed a little later.
Having a unifying idea for a site also goes a long way to picking the right design. You do not want every page to look strikingly different, and to pick the one design to rule -- err, to suit them all, it is best that all of the pages have a common topic to go by. Nothing would be as strange as wandering around a site that is all directed to art -- with a brush in the background -- with one section suddenly being dedicated to games, with either the same brush or a completely different design. It is confusing, and it makes you look like you don't have an entirely serious attitude toward the purpose of your site. And having one design and one idea is simply less headache inducing.
Refining your idea is no less important than picking it. You don't want it to be too broad, nor do you want it to be too narrow. If it's too broad, you will have trouble attracting the right audience -- broad ideas are better left for big companies that can invest a lot of resources into them. Overly narrow ideas will shrink your target audience and therefore also your potential revenue. Now, there may be a case where you are focusing on a niche market -- i.e. an unexplored market that is special in some way and doesn't have a lot of competition. But they are hard to find, and there might be few customers in a niche, which would be exactly why it's a niche. Yet, if you have something truly original to go with that has a lot of potential, make sure to go with it. ;)
Also, specifically for an art site, being overly narrow or overly broad will directly affect the amount of work you can or should display. If you have ten sections for your art, you had better be very productive to be able to update regularly, because eventually your creations will become outdated, and you don't want an outdated portfolio, do you? Likewise, if you have only one single section for all your art, it will be hard for the customer to find what they want, because either the works will be too different, or there will simply be too many of them. So, the middle way is essential to locate and follow.
Coming next, Part 3: Advertising Your Site.
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