I’ve been an author website designer for long enough that many of my clients have moved from the first iteration of their websites to the second (or more). This most often happens because enough time has passed that technology has changed and they would benefit from a refresh to take advantage of the latest capabilities of the internet. Beyond that, new, popular tools come along (hello, Substack), what’s fashionable online changes, and how people find you online has evolved. Add to that the release of a new book, and often it’s a good time to say goodbye to the site that has served you well in the past so that you can say hello to a new website that will serve you well in the future.
You might be surprised to hear that the average lifespan of a website is just 2 years, 7 months. Obviously, this can vary quite a bit depending on your business and career, but while smaller, incremental changes can keep things fresh for a while, at some point it’s in your best interest to start again. In my experience, the average author website design lasts 4-5 years, after which it will start to really show its age.
“A business website, no matter how well it is designed, will need to be redesigned in order to keep being an effective marketing tool. Even if you truly love the current design, remember that the primary function of your business website is to convert searchers to customers, and if it isn’t doing its job, you’re missing opportunities.” Forbes
How do you know it’s time?
- If it becomes difficult or cumbersome to add or change content on your existing website.
- If your customers have come to expect something different than what you’re presenting.
- If there’s a new tool you want to use and it isn’t supported by your existing site.
- If how people find you online has changed and your website hasn’t kept pace.
When it comes time to actually do the transition, the best way to move forward is to build out the new website first, then make it live when it’s complete so you minimize downtime. Sometimes you’ll want to move to a new web host as part of this transition, because newer, better hosting solutions have come along, and you can include that transition as part of the creation of your new website too which will save you time and money over doing that separately.
If you’ve timed this update around the release of a new book, you’ve already got a marketing plan in place (I hope) but if not, you might create some marketing around the relaunch because of a new feature (like a mailing list). Encourage feedback and the sharing of your new site far and wide. If there are hiccups post-launch (because even the best-intentioned, detailed-oriented folks sometimes miss something) make sure to allocate time for that so that you’re not dealing with it on top of an already packed schedule.
In general, it’s a good idea to factor in an occasional website update as part of your life online. Just like you need to update and maintain your physical home, you need to update and maintain your home online. Consider this as part of the annual budget for your business expenses so you’re not blindsided when the time comes. With the right planning, your new author website design will not just delight you and your fans, but it will serve you well for yet more years to come.
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If you’re interested in diving into more details about this topic (and many others!), check out my Author Website Planning Kit which details out everything you need to know to build your own author website.
This document consolidates, updates, and fleshes out my most popular and helpful articles written for authors and writers into a single, affordable resource. If you’ve been thinking about it for a while, but aren’t sure where to start, what platform to use, and what key decisions you’ll face, this planning kit is for you.