[I drafted this blog post several years ago when I first set up my website. When I recently added a new book and Googled how to do some things I was struggling with, up popped this unpublished blog with exactly the information I needed. So I am going to hit <post> to give others access to the work-arounds I successfully used.]
Weebly offers free or low cost websites that can be very useful for authors. I wanted to use my own domain name so that requires paying a minimal monthly fee, but I bought my domain name through Namecheap.com—much less expensive than getting it through Weebly. The only possible negative is that if there is a problem, Weebly can’t help me. But in all the years I had my previous website, I never had a problem to need help with. If you use a Weebly domain name as MN NICE does, it is completely free (unless you want more than 10 pages or to use their store function).
This is a template-based web design system so you are limited to the possibilities within each template. You will want to play with several designs to find which comes closest to your vision and find workarounds for the things you don’t like. I had a particular photograph in mind that I wanted to use across the top. But it had both light and dark spots in it. None of the templates I tried allowed me to relocate the title so I had to crop my photo and use a template that placed the title in a space where it wasn’t lost in the color. The template I ended up with insists on all caps for headings, which limits the fonts I could choose from. The workaround the Weebly support team suggested is to not show the heading and build it directly into my photo in the spot where I want it to appear.
Gallery did not work for me to display books. When users hovered the cursor over the thumbnail of the book cover to see the caption, it completely covered the book cover. It also didn’t allow for more than a phrase or so, not my full tag in some cases.
Instead I used images with captions underneath. I could have linked them to separate pages for each book, but I have too many books and would have had to pay extra for each book to have its own page. Instead I used links to anchor the book cover at the top to the more complete information further down the page. In Weebly a photo can be linked to several things, including another web page, but not to an anchor. Weebly does allow for simple html, so this was my workaround:
1. Drag the icon for <embed code> to a point just above your destination. Cut and paste the following code in the box provided: <a name="destination"> </a>
2. Replace the word destination with something that will remind you of what the destination is. In my case that was the initials of my title.
3. Drag the icon for <embed code> to a position beneath the book cover and caption. Cut and paste this code: <a href="#destination"><b>Read more</b></a>
4. Replace the word destination with the identical text you used in the code above. You can also replace Read more if you want something else to appear on the page as the link.
5. The link will only work AFTER you publish.
My page with descriptions of six titles got pretty long. There is no “Return to top” button in Weebly, so I created my own using the same kind of anchor.
1. Drag the icon for <imbed code> to the top of the page.
2. Cut and paste this code: <a name="top"> </a>
3. Drag the icon for <embed code> to any place on the page where you think readers might want to return to the top. (For me this was between each book description.)
4. Cut and paste this code: <a href="#top"><b>Return to top</b></a>
5. Voila! You have a return to top link even if it isn’t an actual button.
My old website had several mini articles and supplementary documents connected with each title. (discussion questions, stories about writing that book, book lists of titles with similar themes, etc.) The page was too crowded to put them all on it. Weebly has an icon for including a dowloadable file, but I found it messy and unappealing. Instead I posted the documents as blogs, using a date before I started blogging and omitting categories that might send someone on my blog to them. (They could still see them if they clicked on the archived month where they are posted.)
I used a button on the My Books page to link to that specific blogpost. At the bottom of the discussion questions and bibliography blog posts I added a button for a downloadable file (instead of using the downloadable file icon.) That way the material could be perused on an attractive page that matched my website and still have a clean print-friendly file for readers. I could even add photos to the blog post.
In order for the buttons to work properly, I had to publish the posts, go to the actual website (not the admin version) and cut and paste the actual post-specific ULR as the link in the button. Otherwise it would link to the admin version, and readers would be kept out because they aren’t admins.
Designing a website is definitely a learning experience. I hope some of the things I learned in the process can be useful to you.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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