As a former librarian, I tend to look at websites for content and ease of use. As a designer, I look at the functionality and aesthetics of a website. As an author and a reader, it's a combination of both.
Here's some website basics for authors to consider.
So does an author need a website?
Some authors don't have a website. But think about it. A website is your calling card for you as an author & it’s also a spring board to your other online presences.
This is where readers, media, authors, and the general public can find out about you and your books and the best bit is that the author has control over look and content, unlike social media platforms (which can change user agreements and the way content is displayed at any time).
A website can as simple as you like but needs to focus on you as an author.
Design Features to think about
Reflect the author brand
- A brand is a "Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers."
- At the core, branding is the audience expectation of you as an author.
- Difference ways you can brand by – genre, your writing voice, theme, or name.
- Your branding will determine your online look.
- For a comprehensive look at branding, there are many articles online including this good one by Joanna Penn from The Creative Penn website.
and also have a symbol that I used within the pages of my last release.
For ease of use and to attract the user's eye to the most important information, a simple layout is best. That means not too many columns or information scattered everywhere.
For a great looking and user friendly website, check out Keri Arthur.
The navigation bar is handy to have for quick access to other pages on the site. It can be horizontal or vertical.
Or it can be a 'hamburger' menu, which is the three horizontal lines to represent a collapsed menu, i.e. once clicked it gives you the actual menu.
I find this adds another step to the process, though this kind of menu is automatic with responsive templates when they are viewed by devices.
I prefer a horizontal navigation menu. The one on my website is static at the top of the page as you scroll.
Easy to update?
Are you going to update your website? Or are you going to pay someone to pay it?
I use Weebly which is a drag and drop, user-friendly platform.
Many use Wordpress for the amount of templates available and widgets that can be added to the site.
Automatically changes the way the way the website looks depending on device page it is viewed on.
Notice the hamburger menu.
Number of pages neededSome hosting sites may have a limit depending on level of service/payment, so keep that in mind when choosing your platform.
Basic content on websites
The home page is the spring board to your website and can have a lot of different types of information.
This includes latest release, upcoming release, newsletter signups, news, social media widgets. This is to grab the interest of different aspects of the author.
Some people have blogs on the home of their website.
Many authors also use pop-ups to sign for their newsletter. Personally these pop-ups annoy me because they happen every time I go to that website. I may have even signed up to the newsletter. If I want to subscribe to a newsletter, seeing a sign-up form or area on the website is more likely to get my attention.
Initially having one page for your releases can be sufficient. (I call it Releases because mine are shorter works. When I think of books, I think of novella and novel length stories).
Social Media links
- There are many other items you can have on your website - FAQ, Events, Bonus Features, Articles (if you don't have a blog), Links to other authors, artwork based on your books, news archives.
- Many sites now have notification about cookies when you enter a site. Changes to EU regulations requires EU viewers, but it can be set so everyone sees it.
- Remember to try and update it every so often so it doesn’t remain static.
- A change in look is expected every few years or so.
- Be professional
Search Engine Optimisation makes it easier for search engines to find your site.E.g. romance, author, writer, speculative fiction, specfic, fantasy, paranormal romance, sci-fi romance, romantic elements, books, short stories, novellas, dragons, etc etc.
Eleni Konstantine writes speculative fiction and has had a number of short stories published.
Eleni has a love of chocolate (of course!), fizzy drinks, coffee and relishes her afternoon naps. She lives in South Australia with her family and is human to a sassy Rottweiler.