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Three Website Design Tips from WritersMarket.com

In a recent website design review for the Mequoda Library Mequoda Editor-at-Large Peter A. Schaible takes a look at WritersMarket.com.

WritersMarket.com is a pay-for-access, online database for freelance writers that cross-sells print publications and other products owned by its publisher.

Peter notes that online databases sold by subscription are big business for LexisNexis, R.R. Bowker, Thomson and other traditional publishers of directories.

The idea makes a lot of sense. An online directory is easier to update and keep current, and the costs for manufacturing and delivery are minuscule compared to those of a printed volume. Major directory publishers generally offer both print and online versions and these can be very pricey.

An online subscription (access to the database) to WritersMarket.com is $29.99 annually or $3.99 monthly on a till-forbid basis (they bill your credit card monthly until you tell them to stop). That compares with buying the 2006 Writer’s Market paperback book (1,178 pages, 2.8 pounds) for $29.99 ($18.89 on Amazon). The deluxe edition is $49.99.

  • Published since 1921, Writer’s Market offers freelance writers complete, updated contact information and submission guidelines for more than 4,000 markets.
  • The deluxe book version comes with a CD-ROM that will connect you instantly to WritersMarket.com.
  • The website includes 1,500 more listings that wouldn’t fit into the book, including exclusive online sections regarding greeting cards, syndicates, newspapers and online publications.
  • Writer’s Market is produced by F+W Publications of Cincinnati. The company publishes almost 60 magazine titles, has nearly 3,000 books in print under various imprints and owns and operates numerous book clubs.
  • In addition, F+W offers educational programs, conferences and competitions, and maintains free and pay-for-access websites.

Here are some website design tips Peter got from reviewing WritersMarket.com using the 14 Mequoda Website Design Guidelines.

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Website Design Tip #1: A website button should be used to indicate that an action is to be performed-order, submit, download, etc. Text links should be used to jump the user to another page and should always be distinguished from other text by being underscored (underlined). The conventional color for hypertext links is blue, which turns red when moused over, and changes to maroon when clicked. This site’s left navigation panel’s hypertext links are white reversed (dropped out) from a dark blue background. They are unconventional and difficult to read (unnecessarily small).

Website Design Tip #2: Good writers know that in most instances, they should write for a reader with a ninth-grade (high school freshman) vocabulary. WritersMarket.com understands this and, even though its intended audience is articulate wordsmiths, it has wisely chosen to stick with everyday earth-people vocabulary and avoid writer-speak (professional jargon).

Website Design Tip #3: The overall site page width is wider than it needs to be and that makes it harder to read. A narrower table width of say, 730, would result in pages that are more pleasing to the eye and easier to scan. However, the typeface and size, except for the left navigation panel hypertext links, are good choices here.

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