Which website?

YOUR WEB presence was the subject of the LFB September Branch meeting. NUJ New Media Industrial Council chair Gary Herman shared his experience in website design. Gary works on the NUJ's national website www.nuj.org.uk and NUJ Training's website, and runs www.keywordsassociates.com which has designed and built many websites for LFB members.

According to Gary, most of the famous computer catastrophes were down to insufficient attention to the "spec", the specification of what a website or software tool is for. If you're considering paying someone to set up a website, or setting one up yourself, think very carefully about the "spec": what is the purpose of the site and how may it change in future?

Gary Herman: photo © Matt Salusbury
Gary Herman demonstrates the Interwebs

Gary's clients include LFB Committee member and music journalist Angus Batey. Angus wanted his site (www.angusbatey.com) to demonstrate he could write about other subjects too; he wanted to communicate interactively with those following his work online; and he wanted if possible to make some money from the site. Angus asked for Gary to activate a "monetise" function on his site, which adds web adverts for products connected to what Angus was writing about.

Unfortunately, readers of Angus' online articles fail to click on these ads before they leave, resulting in very little income coming his way through the "click-through" micro-payments for directing readers to these internet adverts. Google doesn't pay out any money until he's accumulated $100 US in micro-payments for "click-throughs".

Angus notes that at the current rate of monetisation, he won't see any actual money until well into the 2030s. Gary cautions that the money "made" out of adverts on your website mostly exists only as theoretical accounting entries.

Many journalists who just want to showcase their published work, Gary says, can get away with do-it-yourself services like Mr Site, for as little as £20, or free services like www.blogger.com and Angus cautions that you should first study carefully the terms and conditions of these services, especially on copyright: see the Freelance's cautionary tale from May on Facebook's recent attempted rights grab.

Also, NUJ members can make use of the union's Freelance Directory www.freelancedirectory.org.uk as a (free) stripped-down showcase for a few photos and articles.

Gary is optimistic that the "herd-like migration" of newspapers to the internet won't completely replace print media. It will be a very long time before electronic newspapers become a better delivery system to the places where most people want to read print newspapers - the three "B"s: bedroom, bathroom and breakfast.

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