When it’s time to create a website, many authors aren’t sure what they should include—so they go above and beyond what’s really necessary. If you’re new to the idea of website design, you might think adding more-more-more is the best way to get your money’s worth. But at Web Design Relief, we know you don’t need to use all the bells and whistles to build an engaging, professional, and functional author website. In fact, focusing on clean and uncluttered design is the best thing to do when building a strong online author platform.
Here are some so-called author website must-haves vs. what you actually need:
Website so-called must-have: A costly, professional headshot from the lead photographer at Vanity Fair.
What writers actually need: A clear, good DIY headshot that could easily be snapped with a cell phone, tablet, or by your camera-savvy best friend. Play with the filters. Adjust the lighting and exposure. Wear something that defines your style. A combination of soft, natural light and well-chosen clothing can be an affordable alternative to an expensive portrait. So “say cheese” and learn how to take your own headshot!
Website so-called must-have: A complex, fancy concept with many moving parts.
What writers actually need: A homepage call to action that gets results. Successful websites are designed with clarity and ease of navigation in mind. This doesn’t mean your author website can’t be intriguing or eye-catching. But rather than focusing on flashy effects, put your most important content front and center. Make it easy for your visitors to move around on your website by providing links or buttons to buy your book, read your portfolio, or sign up for your mailing list.
Website so-called must-have: A page for every single publication credit you have.
What writers actually need: One page with a list of your publications. It’s very unlikely anyone will make an effort to scroll through multiple pages to see your published works. Consolidate your publication history into a single, essential page with external links to read or preview your writing.
Website so-called must-have: A forum, instant messaging, and a visible snail mail address.
What writers actually need: A dedicated contact form. When you have one safe point of contact for your visitors, it will limit confusion and increase the odds of getting—and reading—messages from fans, editors, or agents. It also protects your personal information.
Website so-called must-have: As many buttons and links as possible (aka the infamous bells and whistles).
What writers actually need: Social media and Buy Now buttons. A button is a very powerful design element, so save it for something you really want to direct your visitors to do—like purchase your work and connect and share your content on social media. Use hyperlinks for any other content you want to steer visitors to.
Website so-called must-have: Elaborate aesthetics and elements.
What writers actually need: An easy-to-navigate and mobile-optimized design. You may think having a website that looks like a piece of art in a museum will impress your visitors, but functionality and professional standards are what will keep your audience coming back for more. Web visitors will quickly bounce off your site if they can’t figure out how to find what they’re looking for, or if your author website looks all wonky on a mobile device.
Website so-called must-have: A cybersecurity team.
What writers actually need: A good hosting provider. While you don’t need the CIA to keep your website and Internet visitors safe, a good host is one of the best ways to secure your website. What makes a good web host? One that performs regular site backups and software updates, just like the tech experts at Web Design Relief’s hosting service!
It can be easy to break the bank and go overboard with your website. Remember, for a professional-looking, high-performance author website: Less is more! Find more budget-friendly website tips here!