For your site’s navigation menu, your host system may already automatically take the necessary steps. As to the other and last step—domain name—the reasons for waiting were explained in Part 2. And this is where we do have to step beyond a $0 promotional system on the web.
1.7 Automated Navigation/Menu
As you added your static pages in Part 7, you should have seen them appear in your site’s menu. If not, then you should take steps to correct this. Unfortunately this is another area where advising you is highly difficult. Host systems have minor to major differences for managing a site’s menu.
Some may allow submenus while others will not. You should not need such. Options and requirements may be more extensive if you have an array of template choices and/or use a manually installed custom template.
Take the time to learn your system. Arranging your menu for convenience and topical ordering can have an impact upon your visitor's experience. We suggest the following order based on site content covered so far in this series:
Home (or News) – Books (or Works) – Acknowledgements – About – Contact
The first item should always lead to the front of your site, meaning where your latest posts, articles, and news are displayed. The second position should always lead to your currently published works; that is correct, put your works before yourself, even as an author.
“Acknowledgements” and “About” might be reversed, if you prefer. “Contact” should be last in the menu; that is the second most visually prominent position in any menu. It is then quickly noticed by any visiting reader (or other person) wanting to communicate directly with you. “Contact” should never be in a submenu.
While all of this might seem obvious, we have seen mistakes based on naiveté and egotism. Remember this site is not about you; okay, so it is behind the scene, but it should not look that way upfront.
Your site is about your (prospective) readers and their wants. That governs all site organization and is second only to logic and nothing else.
This is why addressing navigation comes after site content is ready. You cannot effectively (re)organize what is not ready for access. And later, you may add more content and need to reorganize again.
1.8 Domain Name
Again, we run into a quandary in making recommendations or providing instructions. Which domain name registrant you use and how to connect your domain to your site vary more widely than anything else covered so far.
We do have some advice to offer, especially about choosing a domain name. It is not at as simple as you think.
1.8.1 Host-based Domain Service
This is the first thing you should look for in acquiring a domain name. Most site host systems have a standing arrangement with a particular domain registrant service.
In this, they (usually) offer you the best deal on a monthly and/or yearly rate. Also see if they offer bi-annual or longer time discounts with automated subscription payment to save money. For your vocational hopes as an author, you are in this for the long haul, so cost effective investment is necessary.
NOTE: At present, the average cost of a domain name registration should be around $10-$13 USD per month with at least a 10% discount on a yearly rate. A yearly rate may be the default regardless of listing a monthly rate.
Do not try to save cash by working with an obscure DNS registrant. You will regret it if you do not know how to manage DNS settings manually. Those cut rates usually mean minimal services in connecting the domain to your site.
Stick to DNS registrant services recommended by your host system. Even if the process is not fully automated, the host system’s staff can better help and advise you about connecting your domain to your site inside their own system.
1.8.2 Choosing a Domain Name
Unless you already have a major body of work published with some common name recognition of its own, use your author’s name (not your real name) as a first domain name option.
Real Name: Jonathon C. Harker
Author Name: Jon Harker
Domain Name: jonharker
If you find the preferred domain name is already taken, then look at variations of a domain suffix that are still available. It might be better to (also/instead) look at variations on the name itself. Try both and stop to think about which might more quickly lead readers to your site in an internet search.
1.8.3 Choosing a Domain Suffix
Do not be taken in by the many, many new suffixes (.new, .me, .whatever) popping up at a discount. Much as a search for an author is mostly dependent on metadata in your site, some people will attempt to type a guessed domain based on your author’s name. This will happen if they cannot find your site through a search engine, and yes, that can happen.
Obscure, endless lists of extensions will not be attempted by readers. Stick to “.com.,” “.net,” and “.org” whenever possible. The one you choose is irrelevant anymore, though once they referred to “commercial,” “network,” and “organizational” sites. If there is a difference in price when more than one extension is available, choose the best price in combination with the order just mentioned.
1.8.4 Do Not Pay Domain “Ransoms”
Some of you may be unfamiliar with “ransoming” domains. If you are not a well-known author or are just starting out, this may not be a concern for you.
How “Ransoming” (Parking for Profit) Works:
Someone looks for a well-known person, place, or organization with an established web presence and good traffic. The extension used is noted and a search is done for that domain with other extensions. Any extension-domain combination still available is then purchased at the standard service rate and “parked” (not attached to an actual IP address on the web).
The purchaser (ransomer) sets a “purchase” fee of at least 10x the total domain fees over 1 to 3 years; thereby, they guarantee a major profit over what they spend to keep the domain parked.
Purchasing a parked domain usually does not include even the first year of service at a DNS registrant. If that first year is included, you can bet the registrant is getting part of the ransom.
This practice has been around for a while, though it is growing as the number of alternative domain extensions expand. Anyone serious about a web presence wants one of the three most common extensions. Domain “kidnappers” know this and are targeting those extensions.
NOTE: The current domain for Barb and J.C. Hendee’s author site is NobleDead.ORG. A recent search for the old domain of NobleDead.COM revealed it had been parked (kidnapped). To regain that old name, the ransom for whoever had bought and parked it was $1500 USD. That price does not include the monthly / yearly DNS fee.
Look for alternatives in an extension that you can purchase directly from a service; consider a recognizable domain name alternative if choosing a different extension does not produce a non-ransomed domain.
If all main extensions for your chosen domain name have been parked (ransomed) or are simply unavailable, then you may have to consider an alternative extension and domain name. The next two most commonly used and recognized extensions are “.info” and “.biz”.
1.8.5 Avoid Country SubExtensions
Do not get desperate and try to use a country subextension (.co[m].us, .net.ca, .org.mx, etc.) in trying to get one of the top three (or five) main domain extensions. This will not work in your favor.
As an author, you are in a global industry with a global marketplace on the internet. Stay global and do not go “national” with a domain name subextension.
Time for a Pause
This time we stop after a much shorter entry in this “advice” series. Just the same, there are a lot of details to consider, so do so carefully.
When we return in Part 9, we will look briefly at responsive templates; most site host systems now deliver your site’s content automatically in an alternative format for portable devices. We will also address cloud systems for media embedding in your site, though options are dwindling in this area.
Lastly, and not mentioned so far, we will look at “satellite” blogging. This is becoming more common as social systems squeeze users (and the spread of their posts) to replace ad revenue lost from companies no longer investing in social advertising.
If curious, NDAS maintains three satellite sites. Look to the “Follow” tab of the top widget in our right-side site column. How we deliver news to these differs between the three.
Thank you for joining us at NDAS. We hope to see you again and be of further service beyond advice.