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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?


The Top 20 Must-Have Free Apps And Software That Writers Can’t Live Without | Web Design Relief

The Top 20 Must-Have Free Apps And Software That Writers Can’t Live Without | Web Design Relief

Most writers know that creating a great, memorable short story, book, or poem takes a considerable amount of determination, energy, and craft. Keeping track of ideas, edits, and revisions—while avoiding the temptation of social media and cat videos—can make it hard to focus on completing your work. Fortunately, there are lots of free apps and software available to help writers succeed! Web Design Relief has compiled a list of twenty great, must-have free apps and software programs that no writer should live—or write—without.

The Best Must-Have Free Apps And Software For Writers

Free Word Processing Software For Writers

Microsoft Word may be the king of word processing programs, but it comes with a hefty price tag. Check out these free compatible options.

LibreOffice. LibreOffice comes from the open-source word processing program Open Office. Along with word processing software, it includes spreadsheet and PowerPoint capabilities. One of its best features is its compatibility with Microsoft Word formats (like .docx) so you can share your manuscript easily with editors and agents.

Google Docs. Although the word processing features of Google Docs are very basic, they’ll suffice for most users. All you need is a Google account to log in, which allows you to access your documents on any computer. Google Docs’s biggest advantage lies in the user’s ability to write and collaborate in real time with other authors on a project.

Apple Pages. Another app that allows real-time collaboration is Apple Pages for Mac users, a powerful word processing program that’s part of the iWork productivity suite. For indie writers, one perk of this software is the ability to export a manuscript directly to an .epub format.

(Mostly) Free Writing Software For Novelists

Scrivener. Though there is a cost for this software, the thirty-day free trial period makes it worthy of a mention. Scrivener is easily one of the top software programs for novelists and offers organizational tools to keep tabs on research, storyboarding views of your novel, and productivity features that help you reach your goals. At an average cost of about fifty dollars, Scrivener’s a real bargain.

Shaxpir. Pronounced “Shakespeare,” Shaxpir is a cloud-based software for novelists who want to set goals, brainstorm, keep track of research, attach concept art, and ultimately export the manuscript into various formats.

WordCradle. On the WordCradle dashboard you’ll see all of your projects listed, as well as the goals you’ve set, the deadlines approaching, the number of words you’ve written, and the amount of time you spent on each. There’s a section for brainstorming and a gallery to keep track of all your characters.

Bibisco. This open-source software allows you to be both the architect and the carpenter of your novel. Check out a video preview here.

Free Title And Idea Apps For Writers

Whether you’re writing a blog, a poem, a short story, or a novel, sometimes you need inspiration. Check out these two free apps.

HubSpot Blog Generator. Need fresh ideas for your blog or creative writing? This online app generates a bunch of titles on the subject of your choice.

Portent Idea Generator. Looking for a title for your book, or a story idea to pique your interest? Give this idea generator a whirl.

Free Software For Writing In Peace…Or Not

Some writers prefer silence; others work best with background sound. Whichever you prefer, there’s a free app for it!

FocusWriter. E-mail notifications and social media are time-sucking distractions. In FocusWriter, a single move of your mouse blocks out distractions on your screen so you can get your writing done using the powerful word processor.

CalmlyWriter. Another browser-based app, CalmlyWriter is a word processing program that minimizes distractions. It even includes a “dark mode,” which allows you to type white-on-black for all you suspense, horror, and thriller writers.

Coffitivity. Do you prefer to work in coffee shops but can’t always find a table? Check out Coffitivity’s ambient-noise writing tool to help get you in the mood, even when you’re not at Starbucks.

HipsterSound. With this writer’s app, you’ll have the sound of a charming French café wherever you go.

Free Grammar And Editing Software For Writers

Grammarly. A free digital writing tool that monitors grammar, punctuation, spelling, tone, style, and word choice to improve your writing. You can add Grammarly as a Chrome extension on your computer and even install it as a keyboard on your iOS or Android phone.

ProWritingAid. This is a grammar checker, style editor, and writing mentor all in one package. ProWritingAid is available in free and premium versions and can be added as a Chrome extension.

Hemingway Editor. Hemingway highlights grammar, fluency, and sentence structure issues so you can improve your writing. It also grades your writing for readability level, a feature useful for writers of children’s, middle grade, and YA novels.

Free Post-Production Software And Apps For Writers

If you’re writing a book, you have a few more steps on your publishing journey—especially if you’re considering self-publishing. Here are a few more free apps that are useful for book authors.

QueText. It’s always a smart move to use a plagiarism checker like QueText before you submit your work for publication.

Calibre. This free e-book management software organizes your library of e-books by many different factors. For indie-published writers, Calibre is an easy-to-use software to convert manuscripts into .mobi, .epub, and many other formats.

Canva. Thinking about social media and marketing? For that, you’ll need graphics. Canva offers a free version with an easy interface and access to free and low-cost visuals.

BookBrush. Like the name suggests, BookBrush is a powerful graphics software created specifically for authors. It’s easy and intuitive to use, and there is a free plan that lets you create three images per month and allows access to templates, stamps, and fonts.

Using free software and apps will make it easier for you to write your best short stories, poems, or book manuscript without breaking the bank. And once you’re ready to submit your work to literary agents and editors, check out how Writer’s Relief can help you target the best markets!


Question: What is your favorite software or app for writing, either paid or free?

Writer: Using The “Wrong” Social Network Can Hurt Your Readership Growth | Web Design Relief

Writer: Using The “Wrong” Social Network Can Hurt Your Readership Growth | Web Design Relief

Social media is one of the best ways to build your author brand. While your author website provides a hub for information about you and your writing projects, using a good social network also lets you effectively engage your audience in real time. You can promote new projects, receive feedback, and build your fan base. But with so many platforms available, how do you know which are the best to grow your readership? It’s important to choose wisely, because utilizing the wrong social network can actually hurt your readership growth! Here are the pros and cons of each social network from the social media experts at Web Design Relief.

Social Network Pros And Cons For Writers Targeting Readership Growth



Facebook is an obvious choice when it comes to social media networking and building your author brand. It’s a technological giant that offers a wide range of options, including author pages, organized event planning, dedicated Facebook groups for every genre, and more. And Facebook’s wide user base and search functions let you make connections with your writing networks. However, life on Facebook moves at a measured pace, and too many posts from you can easily irritate your followers. This is one of the reasons younger audiences are moving away from Facebook.


  • Allows multimedia content
  • Very high character limit
  • Broad user base


  • Less popular with younger audiences
  • Not considered cutting-edge



This is the platform for writers on the go! Twitter encourages short, frequent updates to keep followers current with your latest thoughts, activities, and event news. Whether you want to talk about your writing process or post reminders about upcoming publications, Twitter can help you send terse but powerful messages to your audience. Using hashtags can help group your tweets with similar content from other users, making it easier for followers and new readers to find you. The downside is that Twitter’s culture of quick updates and character limit won’t allow you to post long excerpts or full event information. Also, Twitter is most successful when you tweet often, which requires a significant time commitment.


  • Thrives on frequent updates
  • Popular
  • Easy tagging with hashtags


  • Frequent engagement can be time-consuming
  • 280 character limit


Even for writers, a picture can be worth a thousand words! Instagram is easy to use and great for book cover reveals, printed excerpts of your writing, and visual updates on your life as a writer. This social media platform does impose a limit on the length of captions, but it’s not as restrictive as Twitter. However, if you are more inclined to post longer messages, Instagram may not be the network for you.


  • Photo-based
  • Low maintenance
  • User-friendly


  • Prefers shorter captions
  • Doesn’t promote sharing



While this photo-based social media network may seem similar to Instagram, Pinterest works very differently. Rather than posting mainly original content, Pinterest is more focused on “pinning” content from other users and websites to your board. You can easily pull from a wide range of sources to create a unique collection of ideas. A great way to build your author brand on Pinterest is to gather and pin content that’s related to your writing, especially if it shares common themes or aesthetics. Keep in mind, though, that Pinterest doesn’t provide the same level of direct audience engagement as other social media platforms. Followers may interact with your boards, but not with you personally, and Pinterest is not well-suited for personal updates or event announcements.


  • Browsing-based
  • Promotes sharing with followers
  • Unique engagement


  • Difficult to interact directly with followers
  • Very little text content



Though not often seen as a social media platform, LinkedIn is definitely useful for networking with other writers as well as editors, agents, and publishers. Use your LinkedIn profile to brag about your accomplishments and skills—you can even share blog articles from your author website! On the other hand, LinkedIn isn’t the most effective resource for building or interacting with a community of fans, since many users don’t check it every day.


  • Professional atmosphere
  • Shows off specialties and accomplishments
  • Good for making business connections


  • Not as effective for fan networks
  • Not the best place for event promotions



Specifically created for readers and writers, Goodreads lets you gather a collection of book titles (from books you’ve read and loved to those on your TBR list) and share your thoughts and reviews. Talking up books that are like yours is a great way to generate interest in your book, and cross-promotion is a powerful tool to get your name in front of a fresh group of readers. You can create an author page and build lists of your books or books in your genre to let followers know what to expect from your writing. There is not much direct interaction with your audience on this site, and it doesn’t support any sort of event planning, but Goodreads can still be a powerful marketing tool for promoting your writing to interested readers.


  • Designed specifically for books
  • Built around promotion and recommendation
  • Audience of readers


  • Little direct interaction
  • Not good for event/business promotion

There’s no doubt that social media is important to growing your online presence, but it’s important to choose the networks that best suit you and your work. Rather than trying to be on every social media network, choose two or three platforms and focus on building a good following. And take advantage of a social media management system like Hootsuite to make your life easier.


Question: Which social media platform works best for you as a writer?


Should You Renovate Your Author Website Or Start Over? | Web Design Relief

Visit a few of your favorite author websites and you’ll see some that just need a little touch-up, while others need a complete overhaul. Where does your author website fall on the spectrum? Is your author website a fixer-upper, or does it need to be torn down and rebuilt from scratch? The experts at Web… Continue Reading

Why You Need An Author News Page On Your Website | Web Design Relief

Have you considered creating a News Page on your author website? Don’t be too quick to dismiss the idea, even if you’re not a famous writer (yet!). Web Design Relief knows that all writers—from newbies to best-selling authors—can benefit from having an Author News Page on their websites. But what if you think you don’t… Continue Reading

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