It’s a big deal to find the right person to build the best author website design for you!  You’ve worked really hard on your book, and also on getting it to the point of release. And you’re all set to work hard marketing it once it’s available to the world.

If making a living as a writer is a goal, you certainly want to set yourself up for success.  Having a website that achieves all of your goals is a critical part of that success, and you want an author website designer you can easily work with who will help you get there.  So how do you know who the right author website designer is for you?  Here are some things to consider:

  1. You see sites you like in their portfolio.  This advice takes for granted that there are lots of examples of their work for you to look at!  If you’re having trouble finding examples of author and/or book websites they’ve worked on that’s not a good sign.  When you have the ability to see their work, make sure it includes the kind of websites you’d be happy with.  All web designers have slightly different styles, and you want one whose aesthetic is a good fit for you.
  2. They’re going to build you something sustainable.  If someone creates a website for you that is time consuming, complicated, or expensive to update (Or all three! Oh no!), you’re going to be unhappy.  Only those with a massive surplus of time and money can afford to create a site without a reasonable update path in mind.  You want to know that your web designer is affordably available to you after the site has been built in case you need them, but you also want to be able to make simple site updates yourself.  This is where the designer being in business for awhile can be an advantage — if someone has only being creating author websites for 6 months, who’s to say they’ll even still be around next year when your next book is released?  Also, if there’s an unreasonable (to you) amount of time before getting a response from the designer, and/or they don’t address your questions/concerns in the lead up to the project, that’s not a good sign for their responsiveness down the road.  Sustainability for your website should also consider things like what happens when your next book is released, or when you offer a new service — you don’t want to have to start again unless it’s the right thing to do.  Ideally your web designer is asking forward-thinking questions to ensure you’re not creating something that won’t be easy to adjust as your career progresses, but if they’re not, this is something you need to be aware of.
  3. They understand SEO & web marketing.  Your author website designer doesn’t need to offer the same services and expertise as a web marketing firm, but they do need to understand how your website will fit into an overall content marketing strategy, and be able to set your site up so that it’s as searchable as possible.  It’s rare that a website exists these days without being connected to a social media profile, so they need to understand not only what your options are for how to integrate your social platforms into your website, but also how your website might support your social campaigns.  Preferably, they should additionally be able to tell you which of your website content creation efforts are worth it.  You might have all kind of ideas about content you could create for your site, but why waste your limited time on creating content that won’t benefit you in the end?
  4. They’re easy for you to communicate with.  Even if your author web designer knows lots of jargon and can conversationally spar with the nerdiest among us, they should still be able to communicate with you, no matter your knowledge level.  They should be able to explain things in a way you can understand, and not make you feel stupid for asking.  You should also feel comfortable speaking up and providing input and direction.  Your web designer should be seeking your input and direction at all steps along the path of the project, so look for signs that that’s their approach, rather than delivering a finished product that you either don’t understand or don’t like.  It’s totally okay for them to be in a different time zone, or even a different country, as long as communication is quick and easy.
  5. They’ve worked with authors before.  Lots of people have the nephew or cousin or neighbor who dabbles in web design, and can throw together a website quickly for next-to-no-cost, but that’s unlikely to be the right person to entrust your author website to.  The lifecycle of a book, the concerns of authors, and knowledge of your target audience of readers, publishers, and press coverage for books are all things your author website designer should be familiar with.  They should be comfortable jumping on a call with your editor, publisher, or publicist to strategize and ensure all project elements are being considered.  You want someone who can guide you in the right direction, and can support their decisions about how the website should look and what kind of content it contains.

Using these guidelines will help you be able to find the right author website designer for you.