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The first step to making an excellent website is simple: Focus

The first step to making an excellent website is simple: focus.

In the last installment of this series we discussed building a site that gets to the point. In my experience, a site that knows its reason for being is the only site that will stand out.

Am I saying that most sites lack this trait? Yes, I am!

Is focus everything? No. Your art and writing must compel.

But if you can find a way to offer what your audience is looking for in a clean, simple, focused way, you will be a step ahead.

To review, the three rules of focus are:

* Highlight the work that you want to promote

* Have one (or two, max) strong calls to action (sign-up for newsletter, buy, download, etc.)

* Include blogging, video, illustrations, SOMETHING to keep folks coming back twice a month

But before you can jump into building the site, you need to focus yourself.

So ask yourself these three questions:

1) What do I want this website to do for me? Answering this question forces you to get specific. And that’s where good website design comes from. Do you want the site to be a portfolio? A storefront? A place to weave your stories? A destination for people to sign up for a newsletter?

2) What are my favorite social networks? You ask this question because you want to focus your answer to #1 in a way that leverages your favorite social network. Then you want to use the tools of that network to feed your site with interested people.

3) Do I want to be able to reach out to my fans whenever I want? No, not everyone says yes to this question. Not by a long shot. Many creative folks have no interest in promoting. But some of us do. And for those who say “yes” there are newsletters. Newsletters are still the best way to reach out to people you know are interested in your work. You could also decide that blogs are the route to go. But be sure that whatever you choose you have:

100% control of the look and feel

100% of the control of visibility (i.e. no social networks! They show your post, or not, depending on which way the algorithm is blowing)

So “focus on focus” and come back here for our next post, where we’ll talk about some practical ways to get started on building a new site OR improving your current site. The benefits and drawbacks of newsletters will also be covered.

-Ben Zackheim