Category Archives: Design Tips & Tricks

How The Right Content On Your Author Homepage Makes Visitors Stick Around | Web Design Relief

One of the most important features of an author website is the homepage: It’s your business card, welcome mat, and first impression all rolled up in one! But with so many possibilities for content, it can be quite overwhelming to determine what does—or doesn’t—belong on your author homepage. Make the wrong choice, and visitors will quickly bounce. The experts at Web Design Relief have put together a list of design tips and key elements to help you build an effective, good-looking homepage that will encourage visitors to stick around and explore your site, check out your books, and sign up for your newsletter or mailing list.

Author Homepage Content That Readers Can’t Resist

A Clear-Cut Author Brand

Your homepage should clearly present your author brand: who you are as an author and the genre you write in. This can be reinforced by your homepage theme and layout. For your font and background, choose a style, color, or image that relates to your work. You can use elements that reflect your genre; for example, a dark, eerie mansion in the woods for horror, or hearts and flowers for romance. Or you can focus attention on your latest book by using the book cover in the banner the way Bella Andre does:

This is also a good place to bring your credentials to the forefront—don’t bury the lead! If you’re a bestselling author, now’s the time to mention it. If you have a great quote from a book reviewer, you want to get it in front of your audiences as well. You can also use this space to tell the story behind the story. But remember, clean and simple is much better than cluttered and distracting. You want your audience to know they are in the right place and be intrigued enough to continue reading.

The Scoop On Your Latest Book

If visitors are coming to your author website because they want to know more about your latest book—make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for! Use an eye-catching image of your book cover art, and be sure to feature any great quotes from reviewers. If you have a new book coming out, be sure to showcase it. Include a short book blurb to hook readers and turn them into buyers. Encourage visitors to go deeper within your website by offering the release date (if your book isn’t published yet) and linking to an excerpt. Or you can have Buy buttons that link to sites where your audience can purchase your book. Take a look at how Harlan Coben’s author website handles his pre-release info on his homepage:

An Irresistible Call To Action

Your call to action should be obvious on your homepage. You want visitors to easily perform the action you want: Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter? Read your blog? Buy your book? Whatever you determine your call to action will be, make sure it’s clear and engaging. And regularly check your analytics to determine how readers are coming to your author website and what pages they visit most. This will help you market more efficiently.

Keep things simple: If you want visitors to read your blog, include it as a page on your author website, rather than in a separate location. Have a link on your navigation bar for quick access. For newsletter sign-ups, you can have the sign-up box be a constant element on your sidebar so that it’s available to your reader on any page on your site. This way, you’ll provide a convenient opportunity without being too aggressive. Another option is to have a newsletter widget on the homepage that pops up whenever your site detects a visitor is about to leave. You’ll be surprised at how well it works! Here’s how author James Patterson gets more newsletter sign-ups:

Quick Connections To Social Media

While visitors are hanging around on your author website homepage, make sure they can also easily connect to your social media. Place recognizable Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter buttons or widgets in the sidebar, the book showcase section, or in the banner. The widgets will offer a sneak peek of your latest tweets, posts, or a few photos from your Instagram. You want your fans to be able to follow you on social media as well in order to get updates in real time. Here, Rita Woods has her social media buttons right next to her latest book on her author website homepage:

News About Upcoming Events

Showcase the latest news, publications, and upcoming events on your homepage: book tours, signings, or readings at local bookshops. You can add photos or videos from previous events as well. Fans enjoy reading about and meeting their favorite authors—and a meet-and-greet is a great opportunity to hand-sell your book! Engage your audience with news about contests, raffles, gifts, and refreshments. J.K. Rowling may not be serving any pumpkin juice, but her fans can catch up on her latest news right on her homepage:

With the right elements on your author homepage, you’ll entice visitors to stay longer and become dedicated fans.

If you don’t have an author website yet (and really, you should!), the experts at Web Design Relief are ready to help. There’s a package for every budget—schedule a free consultation today!

 

Question: What makes you want to spend time on an author’s website?

5 Mistakes Writers Make On Their Author Websites (And The Easy Fixes) | Web Design Relief

Did you know that every website needs regular care and housekeeping? So unless you have a fairy godmother or can sing well enough to inspire woodland creatures to assist you with your chores, you should keep a virtual broom and wrench handy. Even the most meticulous author website design may experience issues that arise over time: Links break, information becomes obsolete, plugins stop working, etc. Thankfully, the most common mistakes writers make on their author websites have easy fixes!

Check out these website blunders and Web Design Relief’s tips on how to fix them without IT support intervention.

5 Easy-To-Fix Common Website Mistakes

Broken images: Uh-oh, has your beautiful photo been replaced by a sad face or what looks like a torn piece of paper? This means that the file containing the image may have been corrupted. But this can be fixed simply by re-uploading your photo to your author website or installing a handy plugin to solve the problem for you!

Typos: Some of the most damaging mistakes on an author website are typos, grammar mishaps, and incorrect punctuation. After all, you’re a writer—you’re held to a higher standard of web content than your online neighbors. Typos and grammar gaffes on your website may cause visitors to question your writing skills in general.

And you can’t count on website building elements to alert you to typos; they don’t feature spellcheck like word processing programs do. Thorough, expert proofreading is the solution to this common mistake and can ensure that your author website is up to professional standards.

Dead Links: Is there anything more frustrating than a link that leads nowhere? If the hyperlinks you have included on your website are no longer active, your site will look abandoned and poorly maintained. Worst-case scenario—improper use of links can even get your site banned.

Fortunately, reviving dead links is easy! If a website has a new web address, simply update your link with the new URL. If the site you are linking to no longer exists, remove the link altogether or find another source. And remember to check your hyperlinks often to make sure you aren’t letting dead links lurk on your website!

Slow Response Times: Does your website take a long time to load? Having too many elements running can cause lagging. Download time is an overlooked issue on many author websites. And if your website is taking too long to load, visitors will bounce off your site.

To fix a lagging website, reevaluate what you really need on your web pages and what is simply clogging up response times. For example: There is no need to have images larger than 1500px, so you may want to resize large photos so that they do not take up so much space. However, don’t lose the resolution—make sure your photos have at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). Another tip: Instead of uploading videos directly to your website, upload them to an external website like YouTube and then embed them on your site to save space!

Design Is Not Mobile-Friendly: Your author website may look perfect on your desktop computer, but nowadays more and more people visit sites using their cell phones and tablets. So it’s important that your website looks great on mobile devices too! The key is sizing. Make certain that your buttons are big enough to be seen on smaller screens, but that your photos and graphics aren’t so big that they are cut off.

Our pro tip: Test, test, test! View your author website on as many devices as possible and adjust your design elements accordingly.

Check out these 7 tips for a more mobile-friendly author website!

BONUS TIP: While most mistakes on your author website can be easily fixed, there will be glitches that require more complicated intervention. But don’t panic! Regular website backups can still save you lots of grief. Backing up your website frequently gives you the option to revert back to an earlier version (before the error kicked in!).

 

QUESTION: What are some overlooked mistakes you’ve found on websites you’ve visited?

Self-Test: Is Your Author Website Up To Professional Standards? | Web Design Relief

Your author website is a powerful networking tool, essentially acting as your online business card. Since your website represents you as a writer to readers, editors, or literary agents, it should look professional and polished—not like the cheapest option you could find. Take this easy self-test from the experts at Web Design Relief to determine if your author website is functional and informative, or if it’s filled with common mistakes.

Self-Test: Is Your Author Website First Quality…Or Second-Rate?

Are You Using Good-Quality Images?

A: Yes, all of my images have at least a 300dpi resolution.

B: Some images are blurry, but most are clear.

C: Images? What images?

 

Is Your Font Uniform And Legible?

A: I have a dedicated font for headings and a dedicated font for body text.

B: No, but all of my fonts are in the same family (serif or sans serif).

C: The more fonts the merrier!

 

Does Your Author Bio Appear Professional?

A: Yes, my publishing credits and bio have been thoroughly proofread!

B: My author bio is acceptable, but has not been updated in quite a while.

C: I have no author bio on my website.

 

Are You Integrating Your Social Media Feeds?

A: I have icons or widgets for my author Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more!

B: I just post handles to my social media accounts. Or most of them anyway…

C: What’s a social media feed?

 

Do You Offer A Safe “Contact Me” Page?

A: My contact page keeps personal information secure and requires CAPTCHA verification.

B: I give my personal contact information (my email address and phone number) on my site.

C: I don’t want web visitors to contact me!

 

For Book Authors: Are You Including Links To Multiple Booksellers On Your Website?

A: I sure am! I include buttons to Amazon, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and more!

B: I post information on where people can buy my book, but don’t have direct links.

C: Google is free! If people want to buy my book, they can find it themselves!

 

If You Are Blogging, Is Your Blog Up To Date?

A: Yes! I update at least once a week and especially if I have new info to share with my readers.

B: Not really. I update my blog every few months.

C: I am just now remembering that I have a blog.

 

How Easy Is Your Website To Navigate?

A: Very easy! I have a menu bar, and a header logo that takes users directly to my homepage.

B: Most of my website’s pages are directly available through my homepage, but some pages are hidden.

C: I can’t even navigate my own website.

 

Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?

A: Absolutely! Every element on my website is optimized for mobile use.

B: My website opens on mobile, but it is a bit difficult to read.

C: The last time I opened my mobile website, I had to visit the Genius Bar or Geek Squad.

 

ANSWERS:

If you picked mostly A: Congratulations on a stellar website!

Your website works as a first-class, professional platform for your writing career! Display it proudly.

 

If you picked mostly B: Your website is close, but needs a little work before it qualifies as a professional author website.  

You may have great intentions for your website, but they may be executed poorly or need some updates. When it comes to professionalism, there is no cutting corners. Your website may benefit from some much-needed TLC, like a yearly update.

 

If you picked mostly C: There’s no way around it—your website needs help.

Some websites need a complete overhaul. With the fast-paced, ever-changing nature of the Internet, your author website can quickly fall behind in functionality, and this could hurt your writing career. If your website is difficult to navigate or full of broken links, visitors will bounce. And if your author website looks second-rate and is filled with typos or grammar mistakes—readers, editors, and agents will assume it reflects on your writing quality.

If you’re ready for a professional-looking author website, the experts at Web Design Relief can help! Whether you’re just starting out or a best-selling author, Web Design Relief will build you an author website perfectly suited to your needs—and we have a package for every budget! Schedule a free consultation today!

Question: What is one thing you want to change about your author website?

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