Does a writer need a website? Absolutely. It represents you and your writing to the world. You can control what is on your website and how you reach out to your audience. It is your homebase. As Kimberley Grabas puts it, your website is “a marketing and networking hub and a portal that allows communication to flow between an author and his or her readers.” (http://www.yourwriterplatform.com/author-website-elements/) Kimberley has some tips to pass on.
What should the webpage be about? The writer and writings. This is where you sell yourself and your writing. It is not a place for sharing family photos.
What is the purpose of the website? To promote the writer and writings. The website promotes you, it promotes your books and it promotes your ideas.
Who is the target audience? Current and prospective readers. Readers might want to find out more about you and your books; prospective readers might check you out and then be encouraged to read your books as a result.
What should be on the website? Writer bio, book info, contact info, events etc.
Website or Facebook page? Possibly both though people seem to find out more about books by doing web searches and reading websites (http://www.thebookdoctors.com/does-an-author-really-need-a-website-the-book-doctors-interview-annik-lafarge-on-how-to-be-a-more-effective-author-online). Some authors have author Facebook accounts in which they only write about their books and connect with their fans. It sounds like a really good idea.
What about a blog? A blog is a good way of communicating with a wider community on a regular basis and getting feedback on what you are writing. There is some good information on setting up a blog for writers on this website: http://www.everywritersresource.com/writers-need-website/.
How expensive is a website to run? If you can do a bit of the HTML stuff then creating a website is actually cheap. Notepad comes free with Windows and you need a little coding knowledge to use it. Professional, and easier, software is Dreamweaver. This is expensive, but you can download a free trial. Dreamweaver allows you to have design view (for non-techies) or coding view (for techies). You can create beautiful website with a little persistance. Alternatively, you can buy and template and adapt it, get someone to make the site for you (very expensive) or build a basic site using Blogger, WordPress or any of the other free alternatives. It will cost a few pounds to buy a domain name and around £30 a year for hosting, depending on the package you buy. I am currently trialling a new version of my website (www.fromthefrozennorth.co.uk) which is a template I bought on the Internet and then adapted using Notepad.
Does a writer need a Twitter account? Not unless you are really really famous and people are going to follow your every word or you have a brand new book out and you want to publicize it. Then, I would consider have a book specific Twitter account.
Indie writers need all the promotion and marketing tools they can get so a dedicated website has to be a must, in my opinion.