Something I like to do as I embark on a new year as an author website designer is re-examine what makes for great author website design. I’ve been doing this for over a decade, and each year I am encouraged by something new on the list. Sometimes it’s a change to technology, like how mobile-devices revolutionized how we design websites, and other times it’s a visual element like bold typography or strong colors. This year my list is content-focused…
Photogenic. I’ve written before about how important it is to have a great headshot for your website (and life online in general), and there is increasingly no excuse. Being shy isn’t an excuse. Having a limited budget isn’t an excuse. Having access to a camera isn’t an excuse. We all (mostly) carry around a device in our pockets that can take amazing photos, and with the help of a friend and some thoughtfulness anyone can have a great photo of themselves. Modern life requires us to share ourselves online — how much you share is entirely up to you — so that others can feel a connection to you and your brand. And that connection is what turns people from strangers into fans.
Anticipation. Being in the business of being an author means that you’re in the business of managing a release cycle of a product as much as you’re in the business of being a writer. And part of what makes product launches successful is building anticipation. You’re missing an opportunity if you’re not sharing much about your book ahead of its release date. There are lots of moments leading up to release that you can share and get people excited about.
Personalization. Every author has a brand (or at least they should). It’s a magic mixture of who you are, what you write about, how you write it, what you want people to think about you as an author, and how you present that to people. While you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to be unique, you can easily use your website to communicate your brand uniquely. Maybe there’s a quote you can share, or a sketch, or some photos, or some music, or a recipe — whatever makes you unique and will further connect you to your existing and potential fans.
Easy Purchasing. If someone lands on your website before they’ve got their hands on your book(s), you want to make it as easy as possible for them to do that! Give your site visitors big targets they can click/press to make the purchase, and place the purchasing options strategically throughout the site. If someone is thinking about purchasing from you, don’t make them work for it and/or think twice.
Career Focused. Often, when you’ve written a book (or multiple books) you do other, related things with yourself; like maybe you teach, or speak, or offer a service. Your author website is a platform to showcase not just your books, but your career as an author. If you’re not yet ready to share these related offerings, that’s fine, but make sure you’ve set up your site so that they’re easy to add in the future without having to rethink the whole website.
Supported. It’s often important to hear the opinions of others when you’re considering whether to move forward yourself. Amazon.com has made a multi-billion dollar business model out of it. Maybe you don’t yet have quotes from high-profile folks about your work, but you can always ask your friends and family for something to get you started. Hearing the positive perspective of someone else builds consumer confidence, and everything you can do to help people buy your book is an opportunity. All you have to do is ask!
Of course there are many other things that contribute to the best author websites, and you can read more about what to include on your author or book website here if you’re getting started. This list is what I’m paying special attention to this year as I embark on new projects that help bring life to authors and their books on the web.