Free blog templates is a pretty poor reason to select a blog-hosting service, but face it, many of us are a little constrained in the old cash department, so free sounds good.
It wasn’t what sold me, but it didn’t hurt. Sitesell came with a pretty nice program for creating a website.
Actually, it wasn’t as good as the competition, but I recognized that the Sitesell program had other advantages. However, since I joined they put out a major upgrade and I’d say it is now quite competitive with the other offerings.
It is not an unimportant consideration. I spend hours each week putting pages together. Good software saves me many hours. I have had to code in html. It is slow. The free blog templates save me lots of time.
In case you missed it I have been telling the story of my website. I started out telling how I ended up at Sitesell. Then I told how I came up with my site concept.
Now I am at the stage where I talk about how I created my whole look-and-feel.
I have seen worse and I have seen better. I continue to evolve my looks, but I am satisfied that it is wholly sufficient to the task at hand.
Sitesell encourages you to take advantage of their training and when you do you will soon discover that most of the success of your site will come from something besides its looks. There are some seriously ugly sites that pull down big bucks. That is because they do those other things right. Sitesell wants you to do all things right, and in the right proportions.
In Step 4 of the program, what Sitesell calls Day 4, you create your whole look-and-feel. This is where the free blog templates come in.
Sitesell offers a nice collection of professionally designed looks. They are very nice. In my case, since I had assistance from my sister, Jen Judson, a commercial artist, I tried my hand at their custom options. Here I used their software to create the site, but instead of using their artwork I substituted my own (or rather Jen’s).
You can also use third-party software. Many people have web software that they are used to using and do not want to change. Sitesell allows these people to upload their pages without using the Sitesell web-creation software.
I’ve linked in here to a nice little video that talks about Block-Builder 2.0. It shows you how easy it is to use. Having created my first 80 pages with the old stuff I can tell you that BB2 is super easy.
If you look at my web-site you will notice that it breaks down into four distinct areas.
At the top I have my header. On either side you have thin columns with various icons. The main area for content is in the middle. Most web-sites look something like this. With BB2 you have two basic options. You can to with a three-column wide system, like I use, or you can eliminate the right hand column.
If you want to do something different then you will need third-party software.
Above is one of the free blog templates offered. Each style comes in a two-column and a three-column variant.
The argument for going with a two-column system is that you gain valuable real-estate for your content, but lose little in value from that right hand column. People ignore the right side. It has some value as a place to park some ads and icons, but they won’t get much attention.
Having been at this for a year I will tell you that I am regretting my decision to use 3 columns. However, I can’t say for sure that it would look better if I went to 2.
The problem for a designer is that you want the reader to do and notice certain things and all these things are vying for space. For instance I have a search bar. Since I know it is difficult to navigate around a website I would like people to use that search bar. Yet, if I put it on my left hand column it pushes something else out of the reader’s view.
I have to balance what I want the reader to see.
Consider ads. Aesthetically I would prefer that every page has a beautiful pic visible as the article opens. But I also want my reader to see an ad. That reader might not stay around long enough to see an ad that is placed down low, so ideally I offer something he will see right away. Now I have a conflict. Chances are an add and a pic will look too crowded, so I usually have to choose between one or the other.
I am still in the process of evaluating which ads and which ad placements work best, but the data seems to suggest that an in-your-face ad helps to pay the rent, while one down below gets ignored. There is a theory that states that low-traffic pages can be left without ads since they aren’t likely to get any clicks. Of course a whole lot of low-traffic pages added together still can bring in revenue, but only if they have the ads on them.
So you see my dilemma. It might be yours if you get into this business.You want an aesthetically perfect page, but such pages usually don’t make money and then your kids starve and your wife leaves you. Or something like that.
Before I leave this page lets talk about the background that I am using. When my sister first proposed the lines I was a little skeptical. I am now a believer. The lines are barely visible and you soon ignore them, but they provide a visual pacing. Here is what I mean. With a web-page you scroll down. You soon lose track of where you are. I think the lines help orient you. Frankly, I think more pages should use them.
They were not part of any of the free blog templates that SBI provides. Rather they are an example of how the BB2 pages can be customized to give you the look that you want.
SBI and the Sitesell program is more than just free blog templates and some monthly hosting. To find out all that Sitesell offers and how it makes for successful sites and successful e-business's check out this informational page on Sitesell.