How Do I Know If I’m Doing it Well?
I’m usually a little disappointed when I go to an author’s website; its as if the author woke up in the middle of the night and thought, “I guess I need to put up a website,” and then put one up before their morning coffee.
I think that an independent author’s website should be able to compete with a traditionally published author’s website that is run and managed by the publishing company. In fact, I work very diligently with my authors to make sure their websites are branding them in a positive way. Your website is like your storefront to the world–and you want it to be inviting and informative so people will want to engage with you.
There are so many great tools available now, that with a little research and reading, anyone can create a website that doesn’t scream, “I’m Self Published!” I won’t go into website platforms or content managers here because everyone has their favorites (mine are Hostgator, Wix and WordPress), but I will recommend that you search around for a platform that is easy for you to learn and use so you can keep your content updated. You could hire someone to do the website for you, but be sure to have them teach you how to update the content so you don’t have to wait for them to have the time to update it for you.
So what makes a good author website?
- A Website That is Clean. A website should not be so busy with add ons that the reader can’t find the real content. You should have lots of White Space (the term for space that is blank) and the pages should be easy to read and navigate. Graphics are a good addition, but if you have a lot of flash objects (moving graphics) it will take a long time for your site to load. In our quick-paced society, your potential readers will leave before you can say, “Order up!” Use good, bold graphics, but don’t over do it.
- Pages with Focused Content. Be sure each page has a defined purpose. Your welcome page should welcome the reader. The blog should share your insight. The Books page should highlight your book. Your book sales page should talk about how and where to buy your book. Don’t make a page be all things to all people because that will interest no one.
- Content That is Rich. Your content should strive to inform, entertain and inspire before it ever sells. If you only provide sales content, readers won’t engage. They want to know about and connect with you and your life before they will even think about purchasing your product.
- Content that is Clear. The content should have a clear call to action–like a book leads its readers through the plot, your website should lead your readers to interact. You can see an example of this on my coaching pages. I always give a next step or a contact form because I want people to contact me about their book. They know this when they read the pages.
- Navigation that is Easy. We are bombarded daily with fast-moving information. If a reader has to wade through your content in order to know where to go or what to do, they will give up on you quickly. Make your page tabs easy to find and make it easy for your readers to subscribe to you, follow you on social media, comment on your blogs, and to contact you. Make it especially easy for your readers to find and order your books.
If you aren’t sure if your website is effective, have one of your mom’s friends look at it. If he/she understands what the website is about and if he/she can find their way easily then you have hit the mark!
What about you? What elements to you think make a good author website? Please comment below and we can discuss it!