Category Archives: Author Website Design

11 Reasons Why Your Website Design Failed | Web Design Relief

11 Reasons Why Your Website Design Failed | Web Design Relief

From broken links to indecipherable text, many things can go wrong in your website’s design. And even the best design ideas will ultimately fail if visitors are met with mistakes, oversights, or poorly functioning elements. At Web Design Relief, our tech experts know that design slipups will appear unprofessional and send your readers quickly bouncing off to visit another website. Here are the most common reasons why your author website design might fail—and the fixes you need to know.

Why Your Author Website Design Failed And How To Fix It

Unclear Homepage: Your homepage is the first stop on a visitor’s journey through your author website. From visuals to text, it should be obvious to visitors who you are and what your website is about. A vague homepage design doesn’t establish a strong presence and won’t function effectively as your online information hub. Take a look at this example: Is this smiling chap an author? An accountant? A website designer (let’s hope not!)?

The fix: A clear brand and a strong call to action on your author website homepage will encourage visitors to stick around and explore your writing. Learn more here.


Illegible Text: You may be tempted to use unique, decorative fonts, but most ornate typefaces are not suited for the body text of a website. If your audience can’t read the paragraphs on your website, they’ll get frustrated and leave. Fonts with too many decorative elements or that appear handwritten do not translate well to the digital screen, as seen below. Fonts that are set in colors that do not contrast with a chosen background color can become unreadable to your audience as well. Stylish or not, text that can’t be read is useless!

The fix: You can use a fancier typeface for your header, but for body text, stick to basic, easy-to- read fonts like Times New Roman, Calibri, and Arial. And be sure the color of your text contrasts well against the background color.

Broken Links: When web users click a link, they expect to be taken to an external page. If the link is broken or leads to a dead page, your author website will seem outdated and obsolete. Visitors will assume your website has been abandoned and won’t bother to come back to see if there’s any new info.

The fix: Website URLs often change and update, so it’s crucial to test your links regularly to make sure they’re still functional.


Overlapping Content: Overlapping content is visually unappealing and looks amateurish—and that will reflect on the quality of your writing in the minds of your visitors. A crowded design doesn’t function well: It makes text harder to read, buttons harder to click, and images harder to see.

The fix: Every element on your website should have enough room to breathe. Often you can correct positioning errors and float problems with a quick fix to your website’s style sheet.

Lax Security Measures: If you don’t use secure forms, you leave your author website—and your website visitors—vulnerable to spam. This can hurt your online searchability and leave your personal information exposed to hackers. Websites loaded with spam comments look unsightly and poorly maintained, and visitors don’t stay on websites that seem potentially unsafe.

The fix: Make sure your website features CAPTCHA-usage, password encryption, an SSL domain, and other forms of cybersecurity.


No Navigation or Menu Bar: Being on a website without a navigation bar is like being on an unfamiliar road without a GPS. Web users will be confused about where to find the content they want to read. And if they can’t find the information about where to buy your book or the dates for your upcoming readings, you’re going to lose sales and attendees.

The fix: Use the right type of navigation bar to make it easy for visitors to access your website’s inner content and pages. And all the pages should be clearly labeled to avoid unnecessary confusion.

Overstuffed Navigation Bar: While it’s important to have a navigation menu bar, don’t overdo it. Your visitors won’t want to navigate through countless options or cluttered pages just to read your latest poem or author bio.

The fix: Consider consolidating pages if your menu bar stretches on too long.


Not Optimized For Mobile: It is clear when a website hasn’t been optimized for mobile devices the second you enter it. Text is too small or too large, and other elements can look wonky and not fit on the screen. With Internet usage almost entirely on-the-go, a lack of mobile optimization is a careless mistake.

The fix: Optimize your author website design for smartphones and tablets, and you’ll make it easier for visitors to move effortlessly through your content.

Blank or Mostly Empty Pages: Blank pages or pages with too little content can come across as poorly designed filler, which will negatively impact your website’s effectiveness. Your audience may feel they’re wasting time on pages that lack any real information or substance. They may even wonder if something’s broken!

The fix: If you have very little to say on a particular page, it doesn’t serve a purpose. Consider combining the information on another page, or adding more info to the existing page. Be sure your author website’s pages are doing the jobs they were meant to do: reinforce your brand, encourage sales, offer exclusive content, make major announcements, interact with your fans, and build your audience.


Slow Uploads: It’s the one thing that is almost universally hated by website visitors: Slow uploads! And if your readers have to wait ages for your page to load, they’ll bounce off rather than hang around—and they definitely won’t want to visit again. Websites that are too bulky to be responsive or are slow to load will also affect your site’s visibility and make it harder for you to gain followers.

The fix: Make sure your site’s CSS is optimized, and reduce large media files to improve your loading time.

Jumbled Style Elements: Your author website is your online business card, so you want your author brand to be clear and obvious. If you mix style elements from different genres, your audience won’t know what genre you write in, and may not be sure they are even in the right place.

The fix: Your author website design elements should be consistent with the genre you write in so that readers aren’t confused and lost. For example: If you write horror or mystery, any cats on your website should be eerie and dangerous-looking, not puffy, cute, and cuddly. Be sure the typeface and colors you use are also complementary to your website’s theme.

Your author website acts as your information hub and online identity, so you want to make sure it works smoothly and looks professional. If you’re ready to build a website that features great design and optimum functionality, the pros at Web Design Relief are ready to help!


Question: What author website fails have you seen?

A Guide To The Best Navigation Menu Bars For Your Website | Web Design Relief

A Guide To The Best Navigation Menu Bars For Your Website | Web Design Relief

The menu bar on your author website controls how visitors navigate your site and access your important interior content: your biography, publications, contact form, and more. So while the menu bar may not be the most exciting element in your author website design, it shouldn’t be overlooked. A poorly designed navigation bar may seem cluttered, unclear, and dysfunctional to your visitors—definitely not the first impression you want to make! The experts at Web Design Relief have created a guide to the best navigation menu bar options to help you choose the style that’s right for your author website!

The Best Navigation Menu Bar Choices For Your Website


Standard Menu Bar: Horizontal menu bars are the standard in website design. Usually featured at the top of a web page, they can also be placed in the footer or beneath a customized header. The standard menu bar looks professional, is straightforward and easy to use, and works best when offering navigation to three to eight web pages within your website.


Sidebar Menu Bar: The vertical menu bar is another popular choice in web design. It is typically placed on the right-hand or left-hand side of the page in a separate column. By having your menu bar off to the side but still visible and functional, you can bump up the focus on your other content—like your book cover, buttons, and personal images.

Hover-Activated Menu Bar: A modern twist on the traditional horizontal menu bar, this type of navigation only appears when users hover their mouse near the top or side of their screen. It’s ideal if you have content or images you don’t want obscured by a menu bar. The downside is that hover-activated menus are not immediately visible and may potentially add a layer of difficulty to navigating your website.


Hamburger Menu Bar: Three little lines have revolutionized the way we use menu bars! Most web-users recognize the three lines, reminiscent of a stacked hamburger, as an indication to click. The Hamburger Menu keeps all of your navigation tucked away until it is clicked; then it opens into an optimized menu bar. This navigation option is very mobile-friendly and the standard for most mobile and tablet-based websites and apps. 

Mega Menu Bar: Submenus—menu items that drop down and expand once clicked—are a staple of Mega Menus. This menu bar style is best for large-scale websites that require expansive navigation to dozens of pages and is a great way to avoid clutter. A Mega Menu isn’t usually necessary for a typical author website, but could be a good choice if you have a lot of published works or projects to feature.


Multimedia Menu Bar: Swapping or pairing text with icons and images is a fun approach to a menu bar. You could use a mailbox icon for your contact navigation, a book icon to connect to your publications page, and so much more.


Choose The Navigation Menu Bar That Works For You

Different menu bar options will work for different writers and genres—and still fall within professional web design standards. You might even consider using different menu bars for your home page and interior pages. But don’t go overboard—consistency is key in a professional and effective author website design!

If you want help choosing the best navigation bar menu and other design elements for your author website, the pros at Web Design Relief are ready to help. Schedule a free consultation today!


Question: Which type of navigation menu bar do you prefer to use?

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 Design Relief our designers specialize in creating professional, genre-specific author websites, so we know a thing or two (or three or four) about how to effectively convey the sense of a particular genre. Since we’re always on the watch for the latest design trends, here are our favorite genre-specific author website design ideas that are so good—you’ll want to steal them for your own!

The Best Author Website Design Ideas For Specific Genres



Alma Katsu

Prolific horror writer Alma Katsu’s website design submerges her audience in the mysterious, murky depths of the ocean. The dark background colors tie directly into the water-based themes present in her horror novel The Deep, creating an ominous mood while also allowing for great use of contrasting white text.


Andy Davidson

Andy Davidson’s author website showcases the power of simplicity when designing for horror. The high-quality image of a desolate, rural area filling the homepage doesn’t scream horror, but combined with the quirky font, this design implies the horror hidden behind ordinary, everyday life and objects. This decluttered approach is not only functional, but effective.


Science Fiction

Blake Crouch

Science fiction writer Blake Crouch’s author website incorporates popular elements from this genre. With a dark color scheme, glowing text over shadows, and a mysterious light shining through a sinister forest, this website design hits all the right notes with fans of the genre.

Nancy Kress

With a personalized header, elegant headshot, and minimalistic menu bar, Nancy Kress’s website checks every box for a website that excels in professionalism. But she doesn’t abandon the science fiction aspect—DNA strands in her header background create an eye-catching design that also epitomizes an easily recognized trope from the genre.



L.J. Shen

Best-selling author L.J. Shen’s website is a gorgeous example of modern design. Elegant and embellished serif fonts are paired with contemporary sans serifs. She replaces simple buttons with sultry images to direct web visitors through her web pages while also tying into the romance genre. The use of pink accents against the largely black-and-white color scheme gives the website an upscale feminine touch that will appeal directly to her audience.


Giana Darling

Giana Darling’s author website shows the power of a well-designed custom header. With its combination of sensual imagery, smoky textures, and on-trend fonts, the header acts as a great focal point and design piece for this romantic site. Giana spotlights her latest book releases so her visitors can easily find her new content on the front page.

Crime and Thriller

Scott Turow

Scott Turow’s author website establishes the serious tone of his crime fiction with its rigidly neutral color scheme and pops of unforgiving red. Having a gavel as the background image highlights the themes in his work and is a notable icon for the genre as a whole.


Robin Cook

Novelist Robin Cook’s author website embodies the medical thriller genre without being heavy-handed. His header features an artistic take on microscopic cells and a heart rhythm, playing into the pulse-pounding nature of the medical thriller genre he writes in. The book covers all pop, making his website a book-selling machine.



Rebecca Solnit

Feminist writer and historian Rebecca Solnit uses vivid imagery throughout her website to tie into her vast collection of work, including her recent memoir, Recollections of My Nonexistence. Her creative use of a transparent menu bar and text block allows her content to remain readable without interfering with her beautiful images.

Stephanie Danler

Stephanie Danler’s website seamlessly incorporates the cover design of her memoir, Stray. By using the same background and title font as her book’s cover art, she carries a strong brand identity between her website and writing.


Children’s Books

Jessica Hische

Best-selling children’s book author Jessica Hische’s website is colorful and kid-friendly without being overwhelming. Opting for a white background allows the bright colors from her prominently featured cover art to shine. Her website is perfect for both her young audience and their parents.


Vanessa Roeder

Author and illustrator Vanessa Roeder uses her website as both a hub of information and an art portfolio. Her illustrations are featured on the home page for easy access and an artistic touch, while the playful fonts used in her comprehensive menu bar direct visitors to see more of her work.

Historical Fiction

Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon’s author website highlights the historical fiction genre without looking old and dated. With a neutral header and on-trend fonts, she couples modern design elements with the breathtaking, historic imagery found in her works.


Susan Elia MacNeal

Susan Elia MacNeal’s website is both playful and applicable to the historical fiction genre. By swapping out a traditional menu bar with the tabs of folders to act as her navigation, she not only incorporates thematic elements from her work, but transports her audience back in time.

Use Your Favorite Genre Design Elements In Your Author Website

You can pick your favorite author website design ideas from the genre you write in, or choose something totally different that best represents you and your writing style! And if you’re not sure what to do, the tech-savvy experts here at Web Design Relief are ready to help you create a professional, budget-friendly author website. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today!


Question: What is your favorite author website? Why?

8 Poets With The Most Inspiring, Beautiful Author Website Designs | Web Design Relief

Move over, tech-savvy novelists and short story writers—poets are also making their presence known online and on social media! More and more poets now have social media platforms with lots of fans and followers, as well as professionally designed author websites where they can share content and connect via newsletters. And just as poetry can… Continue Reading

How To Build A Strong Author Brand If You Write In Multiple Genres | Web Design Relief

While some writers focus on a single genre, there are many writers who dabble in multiple genres. You might write poetry as well as short stories, and possibly even essays. Or the differences in what you write may be more obvious: spine-tingling thriller novels AND warmhearted children’s books. At Web Design Relief, we know that… Continue Reading

5 Ways To Make Your Author Website More Searchable And Visible Online | Web Design Relief

Every writer should have an author website; it acts as your online “business card” and information hub. If a literary agent, editor, or reader wants to know more about you and your writing, they’re going to look for you on the Internet—so it’s important that an online search engine like Google quickly brings your author… Continue Reading

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