An Url Structure that will Maximize Readers

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Today’s post is going to be quite a bit different than usual. I’m going to use this post as an opportunity to respond to a recent email I received and to encourage you all to connect with me on a personal level just like the reader in this article has done.

Yesterday I received an email from one of the readers here asking me a few questions about the most effective way of setting up the domain name for a website like a portfolio that will also include a blog. The question was a really good one and since I think the information might help a lot of people I’ve decided to share this email with you along with some advice on the matter.

Hi, Nicholas, how are you? I bet your really busy with the blog and all the comments in each post. I´m almost ready to launch my own blog, and I have some questions: I got a domain name and I like it for my “business-design-portfolio” website too.

Should I use mydomain.com/blog or mydomain.com for the blog and mydomain.com/design or something for the web portfolio or should I use another domain altogether?

Thanks a lot for taking your time to help me and for this amazing blog and all its tips.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me

Let me kick it off by saying that I’m never too busy to take your questions. If any one of you ever want to email me with questions, suggestions or anything else please don’t hesitate to do so. I will take the time and give you a personal response.

In fact, the easiest way to communicate with me in real time is through my Google Talk application. If you have gmail and you use the Google Chat feature then feel free to contact me anytime for a conversation. My username is holas84 and I would love to hear from you.

2 Practical Principles about Websites

If you want to get the absolute best you can out of your site’s url structure then you need to understand two very simple principles:

  1. People are attracted to sites that are updated on a regular basis.
  2. People are repelled from sites that require them to dig for the updates.

If you apply these two principles to the question at hand then you’ll find that the best solution is to use the blog as the homepage with the portfolio page being a part the same site but having it’s own page.

This allows your readers to be presented with the most up-to-date content on your site without having to click through to find it. As you build your credibility with them and you begin to build a base of readers and followers who are willing to dig through your site then you will begin to drive traffic to the portfolio page.

People who may be interested in your work want to know what you have done recently. They don’t want to look back over a stagnant portfolio that hasn’t been updated in ages.

Giving them the blog to look at first presents them with fresh and exciting pieces of your writing. It allows them to see your personality and to get to know you even before contacting you or seeing your work. It’s like giving them a sneak preview of what it will be like to work with you.

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About Nicholas Cardot

It's my personal quest to enable every person that I can to unlock that dormant potential concerning their online influence. Also, I'm a geek.

35 Comments

  • Eric B. says:

    Thanks for the tips. Another structure that I think could be useful is a blog and portfolio both in separate subdirectories, and a home page showing some of the latest work, and a list of recent blog posts.

    • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

      Eric B. –> I like this idea as well. The main idea in my opinion is to make sure that the home page always presents the most recent changes and updates. Your idea here is a great way to do that.

  • Kathy says:

    That’s a tough one for me too. As I already have a blog going but I am wanting to someday get my own domain. I often contemplated this scenario myself and wavered back and forth whether I would be better off routing my visitor’s through my blog or main domain first. With my sites content though. I believe I might be okay going either way. As usual great advice!

    • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

      Kathy –> Well this post should be a great resource to you especially as several other options and views have been presented in the comments here which should help you make an informed decision.

  • Paul Kamphuis says:

    That is indeed an interesting question. I think the answer should consider the actual goal of the website. If your blog is your main objective of leading visitors to your website it should go on the frontpage.
    However if you have product or service to sell, it is often better to showcase that on the frontpage. Which is actually the same thing you do Nicholas, showcase your product the blog on your frontpage.

    cheers,
    Paul

    • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

      Paul Kamphuis –> Good point. Too often people set up great sites but fail to really tailor them to support the goals and purposes of the site. You bring up some great ideas about how to do exactly that.

  • gautam hans says:

    Yes blogs help a lot of designers increase their repute. Domain is upto u though i like normal domains like nicholas already said.

    Nicholas you have a really cool blog i like u have design and cool blogging articles. all the things i need in a blog

    • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

      gautam hans –> Thanks, Gautam. Ultimately the choice is up to each individual blogger. That’s exactly right. And what might be right for one blogger may not be the best option for another.

  • Ben says:

    I think people should start building integrated websites, instead of installing multiple systems on the same domain – especially if they end up with a different design!

    If you have a blog as part of a larger website (assuming you have content that extends beyond the blog), the impact of the site is much greater overall.

    • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

      Ben –> That’s a good thought. There are really two ways to build up lots of website traffic. 1. Build multiple small sites each focusing on just one part of your operation. 2. Build one larger site with different sections focusing on each part of your operation. Overall, I think that the second method is usually the most effective method. Building one strong, well-integrated site is the way to go.

  • Evan Kline says:

    I think it depends on the site (I don’t go to Newegg.com looking for daily blog updates, for example), but in general I would think people are going to be more attracted to fresh content, as you point out. My cousin and I are weighing this idea now, setting up a site for my Dad’s business. It isn’t really dependent on current industry news, and I don’t think we can count on him to cook up frequent articles, but we’ll probably suggest some form of design that makes the site seem less static.

    • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

      Evan Kline –> True. I certainly don’t go to newegg looking for new blog articles either. Same with eBay and sites like that. But the vast majority of us aren’t working on large scale marketplaces. I think that for small portfolios and freelance websites blogs are tremendous ways to make a huge impact.

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  • R.W. Jackson says:

    I tend to favor integration as well but as you say, I prefer to have the blog as the top of the page.

    One thing I find though that drives me nuts is a lack of continuity. When I go from one part of a website to another and the whole feel changes, it drives me nuts.

    Am I alone in this?

    • Ben says:

      @RW – I’m with you! Although some blogs stand alone, in that the author has no other content alongside the blog, I view a blog as part of a website. The blog posts can be very clearly linked from the homepage of a website, and the website can have additional areas such as a gallery or a forum, but each area needs to use the same design. Most of the sites I’ve seen where the design changes are not even using a custom design for most of the different areas – they’ve just left the default theme up.

      There is also the subject of which CMS you use – but that’s a debate for another day. Suffice to say, I have a few posts on my blog that cover this issue :)

      • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

        Ben –> I hate it when I visit a site and the default theme for that particular CMS is still active. I never go back to revisit it. In my opinion, that shows a strong lack of ingenuity and motivation to create a top-notch presentation and I’m not very interested in that. I’ll have to put together a post about CMS’s so we can all hash out which ones we are the most pleased with and the most disappointed with. I’ve personally used Joomla, WordPress, Blogger and a few others. Good idea for a good topic.

    • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

      R.W. Jackson –> I agree with you about continuity. I like to see everything under one domain name working together to build a common environment and all wrapped in the same theme. When a site lacks that it drives me nuts as well so no, you are not alone in this.

  • Arisu says:

    Hi Nicholas! You really made everything clear. And all the comments have great points as well.

    I think that people won´t be visiting a portfolio every day no matter how good it is, but it´s always a pleasure to visit a nice blog. And it can make the portfolios online presence more strong.

    Also, to make a bigger impact blogg and portfolio should have the same design.

    Thanks! Awesome as always!

    • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

      Arisu –> Good. I think that if you use the article and all the advice in the comments then you should have a strong foundational understanding to get you started on a great website. They should have the same design. You are right. You are on your way to building something great and I can’t wait to see it!

      • Mukund says:

        Hey Nick! I found useful tips in this post. You know I am planning to start a site on my own domain and this post definitely helps me. To be frank, I gained a lot of information from the comments section!! Every comment posted here is valuable expecting mine I think! :)

  • Dave Sparks says:

    Hi Nicholas another great article and thanks to everyone for the interesting comments.
    My preference would depend on the goal for the site, often the blog is just an attachment (all be it an important one) to the site.
    As such I wouldn’t have it as the front page to a site, however I would make sure that there are obvious links or a summary of recent posts and an RSS feed on the homepage or somewhere equally transparent.

    A good blog will do wonders for a site and the best thing to do is to make it sure people know it’s there and keep it updated.

    • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

      Dave Sparks –> It definitely does depend on the purpose of the site and your summary is right on. The most important thing is to make sure people know how to find it and you do need to keep it updated.

  • Mark says:

    Great information, Nicholas. What URL structure to use has always been a struggle for me as well. Currently i use a blog.sitename.com structure and that allows youto see my blog which has a link to my portfolio on my main website.

    • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

      Mark –> I don’t think that anyone had mentioned that url design yet but I’ve seen it deployed quite successfully at some sites. Good input.

  • Reza Winandar says:

    I think you should use sub-domain. That will make your url more official.

    • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

      Reza Winandar –> Thanks for the input. I’ve seen a lot of people use the sub-domain method and it certainly does have an official look to it.

  • Ron Boracay says:

    Great pointers. I always have some heated discussion with my clients web developer regarding this structuring. And I think, I can refer those guys to this post of yours, and they will Thank me later, Im sure about that.

    • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

      Ron Boracay –> Good. Hopefully this will provide them with some insight into making the decision.

      • Ron Boracay says:

        I am confident they will be enlightened with this.

        The developers wanted some flash intro on the main page. (loads 25 seconds, which is a no no).

        But I am insisting, that we deliver the clients blog as the main page. Then, just make those flash designs or graphics as a subpage within that domain.

        • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

          Ron Boracay –> Flash intros send more people away than they invite in to the site. People heavily flashed websites. It’s nice to have flash to support a theme like the RSS icon at menwithpens.ca but overall flash is an annoyance anymore. I highly recommend staying away from it unless you can really make it look amazing.

          • Ron Boracay says:

            Oh yeah, you are right nick. But if you are into web designing, I think, you can do some flash/image sites then a separate site for your personal service.

  • ZXT says:

    I hate flash intros too. I always click the skip intro. For me the faster the page loads the better.

    • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

      ZXT –> Yeah. Me too. They are very annoying.

    • akira07 says:

      It’s also same for me. All we need is content, not a flash intro :P. The exception is come if the blog is flash-related topic.

      Anyway thanks for this posst. I never expected before, that url structure is affecting to the effectiveness of our blog.

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