Clutter has a way of sneaking up on us. For instance: One minute your writing desk is neat and tidy; the next it’s covered with stacks of paper, a few pens, an empty coffee cup—and sticky notes are plastered everywhere. At Web Design Relief, we know the same thing can happen to your author website. What started out as a clean, focused hub for your online presence can become overcrowded with links, images, and a lot more words (we writers do love our words!). If your author website is starting to look more like a digital junk drawer, it’s time to simplify, organize, and declutter.
How To Declutter And Organize Your Author Website
Polish And Define Your Call To Action
What do you want visitors to do when they land on your author website? Before you can organize and tidy up, you need to first determine your call to action or CTA. This will allow you to streamline your content and design so that your audience focuses on what you want them to do. Do you want to sell more books? Build a fan base? Drum up conversation about your work? Pick your objective and make sure it is easy for visitors to accomplish this from the very first page of your website.
Sweep Away Distractions
Too many “click here” buttons on any page can work against you. Pop-ups, moving elements, crowded sidebars, and multiple messages can be disruptive and drive visitors away from the actual content you want them to see. If you add social media widgets, slideshows, and auto-playing videos into the mix, your website experience will be dizzying! Baffled readers won’t know where to go without a clear path to your primary content. Get rid of any unnecessary content and design elements so that your website visitors aren’t distracted from your CTA.
Tidy Up Your Menu Bar And Pages
Your menu bar is an interactive element that visitors will use often. As a navigational tool, it lets readers view the other pages on your site—so make it easy! Consider consolidating your pages so visitors do not have to sort through dozens of sub-menus. And avoid sub-menus within your sub-menus too! While this may seem like a good way to organize your information, it can quickly turn into a rabbit hole that most visitors will choose not to go down.
Pro Tip: Author websites aren’t one-size-fits-all, but 3-5 pages is the magic number. If you’ve hit 10 pages, you’ve gone too far (this number doesn’t include blog posts—the more current content there, the better!). Find out which website pages are ESSENTIAL here.
Pack More In Less Space: Hyperlinks And “Read More” Buttons
Of course people visiting your author website expect to read content—but that doesn’t mean you should cram words into every inch of space on the page. As web-surfing occurs more and more on mobile devices, having long blocks of text will make your audience lose interest and bounce, especially if your website isn’t optimized for reading on a cell phone or tablet. (Check out these tips for creating a mobile-friendly site.)
Instead of offering your short prose pieces or poems on one long, long page, consider embedding PDFs of your content using hyperlinks. This keeps your navigation and interior pages free of clunky text blocks but still allows readers to peruse your work.
If you have a blog, feature stand-out excerpts from your posts with “read more” buttons beneath them. That way, visitors can quickly and easily review your content without having to scroll through paragraph after paragraph of text that they aren’t interested in reading.
Toss Out Visual Clutter
Tone down busy backgrounds, header images, and fonts so that your author website looks professional. Your visitors will appreciate visual clarity rather than chaos.
You don’t have to go completely minimalist to have a clean, clutter-free website. We encourage writers to add their own style to their online platforms using color, design elements, and themes. Just make sure that your site has more of what visitors need and less of what they don’t. Let your unique voice shine through, but in a way that is still easy and stress-free for your audience to navigate.
Question: What elements do you think clutter up the websites you visit?