Author Website Design: The One Thing Your Homepage Must Do

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When first sitting down to sketch out ideas for an author website, many writers jump immediately to thoughts about the look of their site—the colors, the visuals, the mood. And while mulling over whether sky blue is better than peacock blue is fun and important, it’s FUNCTION that’s going to be the deciding factor in whether or not a new visitor to your website becomes a fan who returns again and again.

That’s why the home page of your website needs a clear call to action.

What Is A Call To Action?

A call to action is a directive given to a person who visits your author website. The directive can be glaringly obvious (like a giant arrow and text that says Hey! Click here!) Or it can be more subtle (like a Learn more about the author button beneath the text on the homepage).

Your call to action is your way of gently or not-so-gently directing your visitors to take a specific action that you’ve predetermined. The more emphasis you place on your call to action (using design elements and layout), the more likely visitors will heed your call.

Examples of Calls To Action For Writers

Okay—so you get the “call to action” idea. The question is, What are the best calls to action for creative writers? To determine which type of call to action works for you, you’ll need to evaluate your goals.

Time for a self-test!

On the list below, what’s most important to you?

Establishing long-term connectivity on social media. If you hope to harness the power of social media to establish your career, then your call to action should clearly direct visitors to the social network of your choice. (Hint: If you’re going to direct people away from your author website, be sure that your links open in a new window.)

Netting new names for your email subscribers list. If your favorite way of communicating with fans is by email blast, then put your email sign-up form front and center.

Selling Books. If the top action that you want visitors to take is to get out their credit cards, then be sure to showcase your latest release on your homepage with a “buy now!” button.

Establishing your reputation and general awesomeness. If you’re not selling anything and you’re not interested in mobilizing a fan base, then perhaps your author website is your tool to begin developing your author platform. On your home page, include a prominent link to your author bio page, where you can include information about all the cool things you’ve done. Important people in the industry—people who want to know who you are and what you’re about—will appreciate your making it easy for them to find what they’re looking for on your website.

Read more: Do Pre-Published Authors Need A Website? 

Sweeten The Deal

Once you’ve established your call to action, think: Is there anything I can offer visitors that might help compel them to take the step I want them to take?

You may decide that you’re not the type of writer who wants to self-promote with freebies and enticements—and that’s okay. But sometimes, visitors don’t mind a little gentle persuasion when you’re asking them for something (to take a specific step). What can you give them in return?

Some things you might give away or entice people with include:

  • Free writing samples, mini e-books, etc.
  • Free promotional items (like magnets or bookmarks) that can be mailed
  • The promise of cool contests that you plan to hold

Can There Be More Than One Call To Action On The Homepage?

Sometimes, it’s hard to know where to direct visitors. Writers think: Shouldn’t I just let visitors decide for themselves what to click or do next? Shouldn’t I just put all the options on the table and let them decide?

While there’s no “wrong” way to design a website (because every writer has a different idea of what works), incorporating too many options or calls to action on your homepage can be overwhelming and distracting.

Best to focus in on these questions:

  1. What do you hope to get out of your author website?
  2. What’s the number one thing you want visitors to do when they arrive at your site?
  3. What steps can you take to make it very easy and obvious for visitors to do just that?

When you know what you want, you’ll have a clear call to action for your author website homepage.

QUESTION: What would your call to action be? Or, what is your call to action?

2 Responses to Author Website Design: The One Thing Your Homepage Must Do

  1. As writers, we gradually progress towards our objectives. So our circumstances are constantly changing, little by little. Yet, an unattended website remains static. Thanks for the reminder. The time to re-evaluate and update our website is frequently!

  2. I think I might have too many calls to action: Hire Me, sign up for my newsletter, buy my book…and none of them are very strategically placed. Food for thought here. Thanks!

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