Category Archives: Design Tips & Tricks

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 If the link is broken or leads to a dead page, your author website will seem outdated and obsolete.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?

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… Continue Reading

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… Continue Reading

Here’s The Right Way To Showcase Your Short Stories Online | Web Design Relief

As the literary world becomes more and more connected online, an author website is a great way for short story writers to share their work with readers and publishing industry insiders. But it’s very important to know the RIGHT way to showcase your short stories online. You may be excited to share your short stories… Continue Reading


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