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Author Archives: Web Design Relief Staff

14 Online Literary Journals That Are Eye-Catching Reads ∣ Web Design Relief

14 Online Literary Journals That Are Eye-Catching Reads ∣ Web Design Relief

As more and more people choose to do their reading on smartphones, tablets, and computers, literary journals are following the trend. Most of the established, reputable literary journals have either completely switched to online publication or added it as an option. Publishing online is more affordable, more accessible for readers, and better for the environment! At Web Design Relief, our techs constantly review websites to stay ahead of the design curve, so we know which online literary journals have websites that function well and look great. Take a look at these online literary journals that are also eye-catching reads—any writer would be thrilled to have their work featured here!

The Best-Looking, Most Readable Online Literary Journal Websites

Paper Darts

The Paper Darts website is fun and colorful without being overwhelming. Plus, the graphics and art used for the links to each new piece are totally awesome! We love that whatever writing they publish gets its own little space, art, and link on the homepage.


The Believer

The Believer website may be the coolest online literary journal we’ve seen. The artwork on the home page is fun and interesting without being campy. And the pages that are home to the actual writing—while keeping in the spirit of the overall site design—are still understated enough to not distract from the work itself. Definitely an impressive place to see your writing published!



Make no mistake: the PANK website is beautiful. The header alone is swoon-worthy (that art!), and we love the way the writers’ works are displayed. Bonus: PANK also features audio of some of the writers reading their work!



Zyzzyva is the last word in the dictionary—and this online journal is certainly the last word on clean, beautiful, easy-to-navigate websites. From the white background and simple design, to the striking menu bar, to the font choices, everything about this literary website is pleasing to the eye.


The Adroit Journal

Another online journal that focuses on simple and striking design, Adroit uses a beautiful, calming blue to highlight their menu bar so readers can give their attention to the artwork and images accompanying the writing. We love the rotating bar of links to older issues too—the movement makes the page dynamic and fun while still retaining an air of sophistication.


Waxwing does things a bit differently than most online literary journals—and it works. The home page is simple, but the layout is unique and we’re smitten with the seamless way readers can scroll down to look at the contents of the new issues. Each item is linked right in the table of contents, and easy access is always a big plus for visitors.


Hunger Mountain

The home page of Hunger Mountain features a big, fun, bright bar of past issue covers—and they move as you hover over them! At first you only see a sliver of each cover, but when you hover your mouse over each one, the entire cover is displayed. The effect is a bit like flipping through a stack of magazines. It’s so much fun to play with, and it’s definitely engaging to look at.


Oxford American

This online literary journal’s website is clean, bold, and classic. Oxford American knows what their brand is, and they present it properly and consistently. The header is iconic—it’s the same one that you’d see on the print issue in a bookstore. The page is easy to navigate, and every piece of writing looks absolutely amazing on their virtual pages.



The print covers for Phoebe are always eye-catching, so it’s no surprise that the art on their website is amazing too. The page design overall is pretty simple, which leaves room for a big, ever-changing display of graphics that lead to new posts.


The Pinch

Did we already say we have a favorite? If we did, well—now we’re adding another one. Every time we visit The Pinch online journal, it becomes our new favorite website. The landing page is always bold and striking, and we love looking at it! Once inside, the website doesn’t disappoint; the menu on the home page offers stunning, beautiful artwork, and the navigation presents the issues’ titles (in a great font) with read more buttons to get to the work itself.

The Sun

The Sun website is similar to Oxford American’s in that it’s completely classic and perfectly represents their brand. With the bold but simple black-and-white design featuring flashes of bright yellow, there’s no denying this online journal’s website is a looker!



Hobart is a fun online journal website to visit. The graphics, the layout, the font choices—it’s all playful without going overboard, and readers will eagerly return again and again.


Frontier Poetry

The neutral colors in the header and the images at the top and bottom of this online journal are calming, and their rotation of links to new work in the middle of the page always offers superb artwork and images.



Shenandoah knows how to do BIG and BOLD! This website has a gorgeous, color-blocked header right above the journal name, which is presented in a strong, effective font. We love how this website is simple and effortless without fading into the background.


Online Journal Website Design Honorable Mentions

Pretty Owl Poetry



Black Warrior Review

The Missouri Review

Winter Tangerine

Crack the Spine

Alaska Quarterly Review



The Paris Review



Question: Which online journal website design is your favorite? Why?


How Writers Can Build Audiences Using Newsletters | Web Design Relief

How Writers Can Build Audiences Using Newsletters | Web Design Relief

Social media advertising might seem like a good choice if you’re trying to deliver your writing to a wider audience—but this actually isn’t the most effective strategy. According to a study by McKinsey & Co., e-mail newsletters are forty times more successful at reaching your audience than social media. In 2020, e-mail users will reach four billion worldwide. And unlike the access to your social media followers that changes at the whims of each platform’s algorithms, your e-mail mailing list belongs only to you. The experts at Web Design Relief have some great tips on how writers can build their audiences using newsletters.

How To Build An Audience With E-Mail Newsletters

Know your goals. First, determine what you want to accomplish with your newsletter. Are you trying to increase book sales, attract more followers on social media, or simply get your writing in front of more readers? Then contour the content of your newsletter to that goal. Focus on only one call to action at a time so your message doesn’t get complicated and confusing.

Make subscribers want to opt in. Even the most popular writers in the world still need to win over new readers. Running a contest or giveaway is one of the best ways to entice potential subscribers to sign up for your newsletter. Just remember to clearly state that by entering your contest or drawing, entrants will be added to your mailing list. Readers may also feel a closer connection to you and your work if you offer exclusive content as a reward for joining your mailing list.

Have an enticing subject line. We’ve all subscribed to a newsletter simply to get the free goodies—and then complain about our cluttered inboxes and unsubscribe from all the newsletters we’re not reading. Make sure that your e-mail stands out and gets opened! It’s important to have a subject line that grabs attention and makes your subscribers want to click on your e-mail. However, studies show that your actual sender name may be even more important. Recipients first look at the sender’s name, so receiving an e-mail with your name in the e-mail address, rather than the newsletter title, will seem more personal—and will be more likely to be opened by the recipient.

Connect with your readers. Once someone subscribes to your newsletter, be sure your content grabs the reader’s attention. The content of your newsletter should be welcoming, relatable, and broken into short, easy-to-read paragraphs. To form a connection, speak to your audience in the second person so it seems you’re talking one-on-one to the reader.

Be consistent. Be clear about how frequently readers can expect to receive e-mail from you—and stick to the schedule. If you promise readers a weekly or monthly newsletter, make sure you can provide interesting content within that time frame. Your newsletter is an important element in your author brand. Sending your newsletter less frequently than your promised delivery schedule—or at haphazard, random intervals—would be inconsistent branding and might damage the author brand you are trying to create. Conversely, sending more e-mails than you promised will annoy readers and cause them to either unsubscribe, block, or even report you as a spammer. Avoid these potential problems by adhering to the schedule.

Use visuals. The average recipient of your e-mail spends a mere 51 seconds reading it. Images help your readers get a general sense of your message without having to read every word of it. Create visuals that not only make it easy for readers to grasp your message quickly, but also ensure that your content is understood even if it isn’t completely read.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to craft a newsletter that your subscribers will enjoy opening and reading—which will make it easier for you to grow your audience!


Question: Which author newsletter is your favorite? Why?

How To Choose The Best Background For Your Author Website | Web Design Relief

How To Choose The Best Background For Your Author Website | Web Design Relief

When planning the design of your author website, the background should be at the forefront of your mind. At Web Design Relief, we know it’s easy to focus on the text and the elements that will pop and grab your audience’s attention. But keep in mind: Your website’s background takes up most of the page—on every page—and should complement the atmosphere, tone, and overall experience for your readers. Here are tips from our designers to help you choose the best background for your author website.

Guide To Choosing A Background For Your Author Website

Use Texture And Patterns

There is no reason why your background has to be limited to a solid, flat color, so experiment with different textures! Floral- and nature-themed backgrounds work well, as do industrial and geometric textures. Keep your genre in mind and be sure your background suits your writing.

But be careful: It can be easy to lose your content in a too-busy background. If you opt for a background with a lot going on, like a colorful pattern or picture, make certain that your text and images have drop shadows so that they still stand out, or use overlays and filters to soften the background where you have a lot of text. Make it easy for people to read your content!

Incorporate Color

Color is one of the best ways to evoke the atmosphere you want your author website to convey. While black and white are the most popular choices for background colors, there are many other colors that will match your mood and still allow for legible text. If you write romances, you might want to consider using pastel, rosy tones. Meanwhile, a thriller or mystery writer might find that a background of deep jewel tones captures the right mood.

Ideally, you want visitors to stay on your author website for a long time, learning about you and your writing. But if your background features glaring neon colors that aren’t easy on the eyes, your readers will be bouncing off your website in a hurry. Some colors to avoid are intense blues, yellows, and purples—which can be particularly difficult to view for any length of time.

Be Consistent

While having the same background on every page is standard web design, certain pages or sections of your website may call for a different shade or texture. But be sure to use shades in the same family of colors or similar textures to match the overall look of the rest of your website.

You may find yourself falling in love with many different backgrounds, but every page shouldn’t look like it belongs to a different website. Having multiple pages or sections without a cohesive style will appear amateurish and overly busy—and make it harder for your visitors to focus on your message. A consistent look carried throughout your website will reinforce your author brand’s effectiveness.

Offer Contrast

Whether your background colors are muted or bold, it’s important that your text is legible. Choose contrasting colors to make certain your words will stand out against the background. A good rule of thumb: White text works against dark backgrounds, and black text works against light backgrounds almost every time.

Stay Away From Animation Or Video

Animated backgrounds or backgrounds with embedded videos no longer have a place in modern web design. Not only are they too busy, but these elements will also slow down the loading speed of your website—which is a huge design mistake. Also, animated backgrounds won’t work on tablets and phones. With most people now accessing the Internet using these devices, your website must be mobile-friendly.

Consider A High-Quality Image

While solid colors, trendy textures, and eye-catching patterns are typically used for backgrounds, images are another great option. A good photo can add depth and emotion to the overall experience of your author website. You might use a landscape based on the setting in your writing, or from where you live now or your childhood. You can purchase beautiful stock imagery or use your own high-quality image!

Designer Pro Tip: Because your background takes up the entire page, the image you use as your background must be big enough to fit the space. An image that is less than 300 DPI (dots per inch) or smaller than 1,200 pixels in length will appear blurry and out of proportion—which will make your website look unprofessional.

Test Your Background

Before you debut your new background, it’s important to confirm that it works with all the elements of your author website. Once you add content, your background may unexpectedly shift, become chopped up, or lose its quality—so be sure to self-test your website before pressing the update or publish button.

Don’t assume a background that looks good on your own desktop or laptop computer will look good on every computer. There are countless different computer screen resolutions. Try changing your screen’s resolution or borrowing someone else’s computer to see how your website’s background will look on other screens. And testing a background on mobile phones and tablets is crucial, since these are often used by your audience.

The right background on your author website will reinforce your author brand, complement your genre, and make the best impression on your audience. If you’re not sure about making the correct choice on your own, hire a designer like the pros at Web Design Relief!


Question: What type of background do you prefer on a website? Why?

Genre-Specific Author Website Design Ideas You’ll Want To Steal | Web Design Relief

Your author website is the hub of your online author brand, so it’s important the design elements complement the genre you write in. Website visitors should feel the love if your genre is romance, be spooked if you write horror, sense a different era if your focus is historical fiction, and so on! At Web… Continue Reading

How To Focus Your Author Blog To Attract Book-Buying Readers | Web Design Relief

You may be surprised to learn that the skills needed to be a creative writer aren’t the same as those required to be an effective blogger. Unlike short stories, poetry, novels, or memoirs, an author blog requires some mastery of networking, sharing, and making connections online. The marketing experts at Web Design Relief know being… Continue Reading

The Right Way To Publish A Short Story On Social Media | Web Design Relief

If you’re a short story writer who wants to add something new to your publishing options, you might want to consider sharing your work on social media. More and more writers are discovering Twitterature: micro stories that fit within the character limit, or entire novels broken into serialized snippets stretched out over hundreds of tweets.… Continue Reading

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